These resources can be found in the Reference section of each document. A code of ethics cannot guarantee ethical behaviour. Both the spirit and the letter of this Code of Ethics will guide social workers as they act in good faith and with a genuine desire to make sound judgements. Other individuals, organizations and bodies such as regulatory boards, professional liability insurance providers, courts of law, boards of directors of organizations employing social workers and government agencies may also choose to adopt this Code of Ethics or use it as a basis for evaluating professional conduct. In Canada, each province and territory is responsible for regulating the professional conduct of social workers to ensure the protection of the public. Social workers are advised to contact the regulatory body in their province or territory to determine whether it has adopted this Code of Ethics.
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Preamble The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients.
Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice, community organizing, supervision, consultation, administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation.
Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of people to address their own needs. The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. This constellation of core values reflects what is unique to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.
The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The Code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve.
The Code is designed to help social workers identify relevant considerations when professional obligations conflict or ethical uncertainties arise. The Code provides ethical standards to which the general public can hold the social work profession accountable. The Code articulates standards that the social work profession itself can use to assess whether social workers have engaged in unethical conduct.
NASW has formal procedures to adjudicate ethics complaints filed against its members. The Code offers a set of values, principles, and standards to guide decision making and conduct when ethical issues arise.
It does not provide a set of rules that prescribe how social workers should act in all situations. Ethical responsibilities flow from all human relationships, from the personal and familial to the social and professional. Further, the NASW Code of Ethics does not specify which values, principles, and standards are most important and ought to outweigh others in instances when they conflict.
Reasonable differences of opinion can and do exist among social workers with respect to the ways in which values, ethical principles, and ethical standards should be rank ordered when they 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.
Ethical decision making is a process. In situations when conflicting obligations arise, social workers may be faced with complex ethical dilemmas that have no simple answers. Social workers should take into consideration all the values, principles, and standards in this Code that are relevant to any situation in which ethical judgment is warranted. In addition to this Code, there are many other sources of information about ethical thinking that may be useful.
Social workers should consider ethical theory and principles generally, social work theory and research, laws, regulations, agency policies, and other relevant codes of ethics, recognizing that among codes of ethics social workers should consider the NASW Code of Ethics as their primary source. They should be aware of any conflicts between personal and professional values and deal with them responsibly. For additional guidance social workers should consult the relevant literature on professional ethics and ethical decision making and seek appropriate consultation when faced with ethical dilemmas.
When such conflicts occur, social workers must make a responsible effort to resolve the conflict in a manner that is consistent with the values, principles, and standards expressed in this Code. If a reasonable resolution of the conflict does not appear possible, social workers should seek proper consultation before making a decision. The NASW Code of Ethics is to be used by NASW and by individuals, agencies, organizations, and bodies such as licensing and regulatory boards, professional liability insurance providers, courts of law, agency boards of directors, government agencies, and other professional groups that choose to adopt it or use it as a frame of reference.
Violation of standards in this Code does not automatically imply legal liability or violation of the law. Such determination can only be made in the context of legal and judicial proceedings. Alleged violations of the Code would be subject to a peer review process.
Such processes are generally separate from legal or administrative procedures and insulated from legal review or proceedings to allow the profession to counsel and discipline its own members.
A code of ethics cannot guarantee ethical behavior. Moreover, a code of ethics cannot resolve all ethical issues or disputes or capture the richness and complexity involved in striving to make responsible choices within a moral community. Rather, a code of ethics sets forth values, ethical principles, and ethical standards to which professionals aspire and by which their actions can be judged.
Principles and standards must be applied by individuals of good character who discern moral questions and, in good faith, seek to make reliable ethical judgments. With growth in the use of communication technology in various aspects of social work practice, social workers need to be aware of the unique challenges that may arise in relation to the maintenance of confidentiality, informed consent, professional boundaries, professional competence, record keeping, and other ethical considerations.
In general, all ethical standards in this Code of Ethics are applicable to interactions, relationships, or communications, whether they occur in person or with the use of technology.
Technology-assisted social work services encompass all aspects of social work practice, including psychotherapy; individual, family, or group counseling; community organization; administration; advocacy; mediation; education; supervision; research; evaluation; and other social work services.
Social workers should keep apprised of emerging technological developments that may be used in social work practice and how various ethical standards apply to them. These principles set forth ideals to which all social workers should aspire.
Social workers elevate service to others above self-interest. Social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers are encouraged to volunteer some portion of their professional skills with no expectation of significant financial return pro bono service.
Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity.
Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people. Value: Dignity and Worth of the Person Ethical Principle: Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person. Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity.
Social workers are cognizant of their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. Value: Importance of Human Relationships Ethical Principle: Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships.
Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process.
Social workers seek to strengthen relationships among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well-being of individuals, families, social groups, organizations, and communities. Value: Integrity Ethical Principle: Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner. Social workers act honestly and responsibly and promote ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which they are affiliated. Value: Competence Ethical Principle: Social workers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise.
Social workers continually strive to increase their professional knowledge and skills and to apply them in practice. Social workers should aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.
Ethical Standards The following ethical standards are relevant to the professional activities of all social workers. Some of the standards that follow are enforceable guidelines for professional conduct, and some are aspirational.
The extent to which each standard is enforceable is a matter of professional judgment to be exercised by those responsible for reviewing alleged violations of ethical standards. 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.
Social workers should provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions. This may include providing clients with a detailed verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator whenever possible. If clients do not wish to use services provided through technology, social workers should help them identify alternate methods of service.
Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting the client or other people from serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm, or for other compelling professional reasons. This includes an understanding of the special communication challenges when using technology and the ability to implement strategies to address these challenges.
Social workers should assess cultural, environmental, economic, mental or physical ability, linguistic, and other issues that may affect the delivery or use of these services. In instances when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, social workers should take steps to protect clients and are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. Dual or multiple relationships occur when social workers relate to clients in more than one relationship, whether professional, social, or business.
Dual or multiple relationships can occur simultaneously or consecutively. Social workers who anticipate a conflict of interest among the individuals receiving services or who anticipate having to perform in potentially conflicting roles for example, when a social worker is asked to testify in a child custody dispute or divorce proceedings involving clients should clarify their role with the parties involved and take appropriate action to minimize any conflict of interest.
Social workers should be aware that involvement in electronic communication with groups based on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, mental or physical ability, religion, immigration status, and other personal affiliations may affect their ability to work effectively with particular clients.
Social workers should not solicit private information from or about clients except for compelling professional reasons. Once private information is shared, standards of confidentiality apply.
The general expectation that social workers will keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or others.
In all instances, social workers should disclose the least amount of confidential information necessary to achieve the desired purpose; only information that is directly relevant to the purpose for which the disclosure is made should be revealed.
This applies whether social workers disclose confidential information on the basis of a legal requirement or client consent. Social workers should review with clients circumstances where confidential information may be requested and where disclosure of confidential information may be legally required. This discussion should occur as soon as possible in the social worker-client relationship and as needed throughout the course of the relationship.
This agreement should include consideration of whether confidential information may be exchanged in person or electronically, among clients or with others outside of formal counseling sessions. Social workers should inform participants in family, couples, or group counseling that social workers cannot guarantee that all participants will honor such agreements. Social workers should not discuss confidential information in public or semi-public areas such as hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, and restaurants.
Social workers should use applicable safeguards such as encryption, firewalls, and passwords when using electronic communications such as e-mail, online posts, online chat sessions, mobile communication, and text messages. If social workers engage in conduct contrary to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances, it is social workers--not their clients--who assume the full burden of demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally.
Providing clinical services to a former sexual partner has the potential to be harmful to the individual and is likely to make it difficult for the social worker and individual to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. Social workers who engage in appropriate physical contact with clients are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern such physical contact.
Sexual harassment includes sexual advances; sexual solicitation; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal, written, electronic, or physical contact of a sexual nature. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.
Social workers who accept goods or services from clients as payment for professional services assume the full burden of demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental to the client or the professional relationship.
Social workers should withdraw services precipitously only under unusual circumstances, giving careful consideration to all factors in the situation and taking care to minimize possible adverse effects. Social workers should assist in making appropriate arrangements for continuation of services when necessary. Professional and ethical obligations of the interdisciplinary team as a whole and of its individual members should be clearly established.
If the disagreement cannot be resolved, social workers should pursue other avenues to address their concerns consistent with client well-being. Social workers should seek consultation only from colleagues who have demonstrated knowledge, expertise, and competence related to the subject of the consultation.
How to Cite the NASW Code of Ethics
It encompasses the values of our profession, articulates our central beliefs and creates the unique context for engaging in our work. For example Aboriginal claims to land for example should not be expressed merely in terms of access to resources and income, but also about a means to recover and maintain aspects of culture Patton The new clauses fail to unravel the complexities of cultural diversity, anti-oppressive practice and discrimination. Put into action the values, ethics, knowledge, and skills expected of social work professionals, so that other professionals, employees, clients and the general public may understand the goals and methods of social work practice in Nova Scotia. Social work is not advanced by a postmodern approach which merely condemns everything and proposes nothing Fawcett and Featherstonep. In particular we have questioned the incorporation of universal content in codes of ethics for the social work profession. By not specifying the nature of justice, a social worker cannot be expected to understand the form of their responsibility. This necessitates clearly articulating what is meant by the conception of social good.
Read the Code of Ethics
Preamble The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living. Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice, community organizing, supervision, consultation, administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation.
Code of Ethics
Author s : CASE Board of Trustees Published Date: March 12, Institutional advancement professionals, by nature of our responsibilities within the academic community, represent our schools, colleges, and universities to the larger society. We have, therefore, a duty to exemplify the best qualities of our institutions and to observe the highest standards of personal and professional conduct. We conduct ourselves in a manner which is consistent with the best interests of the institution we represent. Our words and actions embody respect for truth, fairness, free inquiry, and the opinions of others. We promote the merits of our institutions, and of education generally, respecting both our colleagues and the mission of each institution. We respect, celebrate, and include all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, physical ability, or age.
CASW Code of Ethics