Ethical conduct in the field of social work is an essential practice. However, it is quite complex. The dilemma happens when there is a conflict between two or more professionally identified ethical values. Social workers facing moral dilemmas is a pretty common thing. Countering those dilemmas quickly and efficiently is important, especially when positively affecting clients’ lives is the priority. Therefore, it becomes crucial for social workers to get familiar with such predicaments and maintain the best standards in their profession.
Have a look at the common ethical dilemmas in the field of social work. The National Association of Social workers or the NASW Code of Ethics gives a proper insight into the values that comprise service, dignity, social justice, and the worth of the social worker. In this blog, we cover the list of common ethical dilemmas and how to deal with them.
Clients are often thankful for the assistance they receive from the social workers. As a social worker, you might wish to acknowledge the gesture and reciprocate. However, things might become problematic for you.
If you receive an expensive gift, then that may be a breach of integrity. At the same time, if you reject a gift from a client, that might hurt their sentiments which is also not desirable. In such a situation, accepting a handmade and inexpensive gift is always recommended.
As a social worker, your main responsibility is to help your clients come up with informed decisions. However, you are not responsible for their actions. When clients don’t realize what’s good for them and what’s not, you might have to step in. For instance, an individual who has been a former drug addict decides to contact their old drug dealer again, you might feel like putting some restraints on them. All you wish is that individual’s welfare. But sometimes, that might go against you. Therefore, you must respect their autonomy unless the situation isn’t that severe.
In some cases, clients might need help from you it can conflict with your moral beliefs. If you are an anti-abortion social worker, you might get a pregnant client who wants an abortion and is asking for your assistance.
Now, what will you do? Will you prefer maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with your client by offering assistance or straightaway denying help? The best option is to give them an alternative. You must adhere to the Family Planning and Reproductive Health policy statement of the NASW. This states how to provide support to clients to come up with their own decisions.
As per the NASW, you cannot maintain a relationship with your client beyond a professional context. Sometimes, you might find these connections hard to avoid. Social workers might share the same communities, have kids reading in the same schools, and even share some details about their personal lives due to their job’s nature. As a social worker, the onus is on you to figure out the most ethical way to interact with their clients in a nonprofessional way as much as possible.
Confidentiality Regarding Minors
The information you share with your clients is confidential, and you cannot leak any part of it outside. However, you might have to reveal client information to anyone outside the relationship in some instances.
Usually, it is the minors who fall under this. As they might or might not be entitled to confidentiality rights under the agency, state, and federal laws. Acting as the situation demands might be tough and painful at the same time since both you and the client might feel it’s a breach of trust.
Precautions and Management
All the information you need is available on the National Association of Social Workers. Researching these resources will help you understand and deal with the common ethical dilemmas effectively. You can go through them to get more familiar with the Code of Ethics. You often make use of the opinions as well as experiences of your fellow social workers. The feedback from NASW, mentors, and peers makes you accountable to each other and your clients too.
While there are resources for you if you face an ethical dilemma, being educated is the best possible solution.