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Especially during the s, scholarly analyses of ethical issues in the professions generally, and social work in particular, burgeoned. The Code of Ethics Revision Committee was appointed in and spent two years drafting a new code. The committee, which was chaired by this author and included a professional ethicist and social workers from a variety of practice and educational settings, carried out its work in three phases. The committee first reviewed literature on social work ethics and professional ethics generally to identify key concepts and issues that might be addressed in the new code.

The committee also reviewed the code to identify content that should be retained or deleted and areas where content might be added. The committee then discussed possible ways of organizing the new code to enhance its relevance and use in practice. During the second phase, which overlapped with phase one activities, the committee issued formal invitations to all NASW members and to members of various social work organizations to suggest issues that might be addressed in the new code.

The committee then reviewed its list of relevant content areas drawn from the literature and from public comment and developed a number of rough drafts, the last of which was shared with a small group of ethics experts in social work and other professions for their comments. In the third phase, the committee made a number of revisions based on the feedback it received from the experts who reviewed the document, published a copy of the draft code in the January issue of the NASW News , and invited NASW members to submit comments to be considered by the committee as it prepared the final draft for submission to the Delegate Assembly.

In addition, during this last phase, members of the committee met with each of the NASW Delegate Assembly regional coalitions to discuss the code's development and receive delegates' comments and feedback. The code was then presented to and ratified by the Delegate Assembly in August and implemented in January Several modest changes have been made to the current code since its ratification.

In a clause was deleted from one standard 1. The problematic clause stated that social workers are obligated to disclose confidential information without clients' permission when laws or regulations require disclosure. Some social workers were concerned that this statement might require members of the profession to disclose the identity of, and sensitive information about, undocumented immigrants, contrary to social workers' commitment to clients.

In , the NASW Delegate Assembly approved adding the phrase "gender identity or expression" to standards pertaining to cultural competence and social diversity; respect for colleagues; discrimination; and social and political action. This added language supplemented references in the code to insensitivity and discrimination related to individuals' race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.

The code, which contains the most comprehensive statement of ethical standards in social work, includes four major sections. This is the first time in NASW's history that its code of ethics has contained a formally sanctioned mission statement and an explicit summary of the profession's core values. The mission statement emphasizes social work's historic and enduring commitment to enhancing human well-being and helping meet the basic needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.

ETH - SECTION 2: INTRODUCTION TO THE CODES OF ETHICS | isneurari.tk

The mission statement clearly reflects social work's unique concern about vulnerable populations and the profession's simultaneous focus on individual well-being and the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. The preamble also highlights social workers' determination to promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients.


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The preamble also identifies six core values on which social work's mission is based: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. The Code of Ethics Revision Committee settled on these core values after systematically reviewing the literature on the subject. This section alerts social workers to the code's various purposes:. One of the key features of this section of the code is its explicit acknowledgement that instances sometimes arise in social work in which the code's values, principles, and standards conflict.

Ethical decision making in a given situation must apply the informed judgment of the individual social worker and should also consider how the issues would be judged in a peer review process where the ethical standards of the profession would be applied…. The principles are presented at a fairly high level of abstraction to provide a conceptual base for the profession's more specific ethical standards.

The code also includes a brief annotation for each of the principles. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process. The standards fall into six categories concerning social workers' ethical responsibilities to clients, to colleagues, in practice settings, as professionals, to the profession, and to society at large. The introduction to this section of the code states explicitly that some of the standards are enforceable guidelines for professional conduct and some are standards to which social workers should aspire.

In general, the code's standards concern three kinds of issues Reamer, , , Examples include leaving confidential documents displayed in public areas in such a way that they can be read by unauthorized persons or forgetting to include important details in a client's informed consent document. The second category includes issues associated with difficult ethical decisions—for example, whether to disclose confidential information to protect a third party from harm, barter with low-income clients who want to exchange goods for social work services, or terminate services to a noncompliant client.

The final category includes issues pertaining to social worker misconduct, such as exploitation of clients, boundary violations, or fraudulent billing for services rendered. The first section of the code's ethical standards is the most detailed. It addresses a wide range of issues involved in the delivery of services to individuals, families, couples, and small groups of clients. In particular, this section focuses on social workers' commitment to clients, clients' right to self-determination, informed consent, professional competence, cultural competence and social diversity, conflicts of interest, privacy and confidentiality, client access to records, sexual relationships and physical contact with clients, sexual harassment, the use of derogatory language, payment for services, clients who lack decision-making capacity, interruption of services, and termination of services.

Examples include when a social worker is required by law to report that a client has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others. In a similar vein, the code also acknowledges that clients' right to self-determination, which social workers ordinarily respect, may be limited when clients' actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.

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Standards on informed consent were added to the current code specifying the elements that should be included when social workers obtain consent from clients or potential clients for the delivery of services; the use of electronic media such as computers, telephone, radio, and television, to provide services; audio- or videotaping of clients; third-party observation of clients who are receiving services; and release of information.

Another section added to the current code pertains to the subject of cultural competence and social diversity. In recent years social workers have enhanced their understanding of the relevance of cultural and social diversity in their work with clients, in communities, and in organizations.

The code requires that social workers take reasonable steps to understand and be sensitive to clients' cultures and social diversity with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, and mental or physical disability. Unlike earlier versions of the code of ethics, the current code pays substantial attention to the topics of conflicts of interest and problematic dual or multiple relationships, for example, involving social workers' social relationships with former clients or when social workers provide services to two or more persons who have a relationship with each other.

The current code substantially expands the profession's standards on privacy and confidentiality. Noteworthy are details concerning social workers' obligation to disclose confidential information to protect third parties from serious harm; confidentiality guidelines when working with families, couples, or groups; disclosure of confidential information to third-party payers; discussion of confidential information in public and semipublic areas; disclosure of confidential information during legal proceedings privileged information ; protection of clients' written and electronic records; the use of case material in teaching and training; and protection of the confidentiality of deceased clients.

The code requires social workers to discuss confidentiality policies and guidelines as soon as possible in the social worker—client relationship and as needed throughout the course of the relationship. The current code has also expanded standards related to social workers' sexual relationships with current and former clients, clients' relatives, and other individuals with whom clients maintain a close, personal relationship.

Also included is a standard concerning appropriate and inappropriate physical contact with clients. An unprecedented section of the code focuses on social workers' use of barter—that is, accepting goods or services from clients as payment for professional service. After considerable discussion, the Code of Ethics Revision Committee decided to stop short of banning bartering outright, recognizing that in some communities bartering is a widely accepted form of payment. However, the code advises social workers to avoid bartering because of the potential for conflicts of interest, exploitation, and inappropriate boundaries in social workers' relationships with clients.

The code also includes extensive guidelines concerning social workers' termination of services to clients. The code focuses primarily on termination of services when clients no longer need services, when clients have not paid an overdue balance, and when social workers leave an employment setting.

This section of the code addresses issues concerning social workers' relationships with professional colleagues.

These include respect for colleagues; proper treatment of confidential information shared by colleagues; interdisciplinary collaboration and disputes among colleagues; consultation with colleagues; referral for services; and sexual relationships with and sexual harassment of colleagues. The current code particularly strengthens ethical standards pertaining to impaired, incompetent, and unethical colleagues.

Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague's impairment which may be caused by personal problems, psychosocial distress, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties, and which interferes with practice effectiveness , incompetence, or unethical conduct, are required to consult with that colleague when feasible; assist the colleague in taking remedial action; and if these measures do not address the problem satisfactorily, take action through appropriate channels established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing bodies, and other professional organizations.

Boundaries

This section of the code addresses a wide range of issues pertaining to social work supervision; consultation; education and training; performance evaluation; client records; billing for services; client transfer; agency administration; continuing education and staff development; commitments to employers; and labor-management disputes. Standards in this section state that social work supervisors, consultants, educators, and trainers should avoid engaging in any dual or multiple relationships when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm.

Another standard requires that social workers who function as educators or field instructors for students should take reasonable steps to ensure that clients are routinely informed when services are being provided by students. Several standards pertain to client records. The current code enhances documentation standards to which social workers are held. In particular, the code requires that records include sufficient, accurate, and timely documentation to facilitate the delivery of services and ensure continuity of services provided to clients in the future.

Documentation should avoid gratuitous detail and include only information that is directly relevant to the delivery of services.

The code also spells out expectations concerning protection of clients' privacy, record storage and retention, and accurate billing for services. The code urges social workers to be particularly careful when an individual who is receiving services from another agency or colleague contacts a social worker for services.

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Several standards are designed to protect clients from exploitation and to avoid conflicts of interest. The code requires social workers to discuss with potential clients the nature of their current relationship with other service providers and the implications, including possible benefits and risks, of entering into a relationship with a new service provider. If a new client has been served by another agency or colleague, social workers should discuss with the client whether consultation with the previous service provider is in the client's best interest.

The code greatly expands coverage of ethical standards related to agency administration.


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  4. Key issues involve social work administrators' obligation to advocate for resources to meet clients' needs; provide adequate staff supervision; allocate resources fairly; ensure a working environment consistent with code standards; and arrange for appropriate continuing education and staff development. The code also includes a number of ethical standards for social work employees, for example, related to unethical personnel practices and misappropriation of agency funds. Especially important are standards concerning social workers' obligation to address employing organizations' policies, procedures, regulation, or administrative orders that interfere with the ethical practice of social work.