social work code of ethics

The NASW Code of Ethics is a set of standards that guides the professional conduct of social workers, according to the NASW website. In 1960, the first National Association of Social Workers (NASW) work code of ethics was published. The NASW code of ethics has been revised several times, with the most recent revision occurring in 2021. However, it maintains most of his original principles.

Social workers are professionals who work with individuals, groups, and communities to help them learn how to live better lives. Additionally, they serve as a voice for equality by advocating for the disadvantaged.

As a social worker, you will work in a range of settings, including schools, hospitals, and government agencies.

Furthermore, social workers pursue a range of employment pathways which includes roles in the:

  • Casework
  • Counselling
  • Advocacy
  • Community engagement
  • Psychiatric
  • General mental health care.

However, the most common social work is family health care, which includes elderly care and child protection.

It is crucial to emphasise that social workers frequently work unsocial hours. Evening and weekend work is probable, yet this should not be a concern because the nature of social work practice is rewarding.

To better work in this field, it is important that you know the core code of ethics. The following is a brief overview of the six core values of the code of ethics.

The 6 Core NASW Code of Ethics

1. Service

Service to others takes precedence over self-interest for social workers. Social workers use their knowledge, values, and skills to assist those in need and to address social issues. They are also encouraged to volunteer some of their professional skills with no expectation of monetary compensation.

2. Social Justice

Social workers advocate for social change, particularly on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups. The social change efforts are primarily focused on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice.

These activities aim to raise awareness and knowledge of oppression, as well as cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers ensure that all people have equal access to needed information, services, and resources, as well as meaningful participation in decision-making.

3. Dignity and Worth of the Person

Social workers treat others with care and respect, taking into account individual differences as well as cultural and ethnic diversity. They promote clients’ socially responsible self-determination. They also strive to increase their clients’ ability and opportunity to change and address their own needs.

Social workers are aware of their dual responsibility to clients and society as a whole. They also seek to resolve conflicts between clients and broader society’s interests in a socially responsible manner. Furthermore, they are consistent with the profession’s values, ethical principles, and ethical standards.

4. Importance of Human Relationships

Social professionals recognise that interpersonal interactions are a crucial mechanism for transformation. They engage people as partners in the helping process. Social workers strive to develop interpersonal connections in order to promote, repair, maintain, and improve the well-being of individuals, families, social groups, organisations, and communities.

5. Integrity

Social workers constantly practice in accordance with the profession’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. These professionals must take care of themselves both professionally and personally. They also must act honestly and responsibly and encourage ethical norms among the institutions.

6. Competence

Social workers practice within their areas of speciality. They must also strive to expand their professional knowledge and abilities and put them into practice. Social workers should aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.

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The Objective of the NASW Code of Ethics

Professional ethics are important to social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its fundamental beliefs, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics establishes these ideals, principles, and standards to govern the conduct of social workers. The Code applies to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional roles, work situations, or communities served.

The NASW Code of Ethics serves six purposes and they include:

  1. The Code highlights basic beliefs that support the mission of social work.
  2. The Code highlights broad ethical concepts that represent the underlying values of the profession. It also sets a set of specific ethical standards to govern social work practice.
  3. When professional requirements clash or ethical difficulties occur, the Code is intended to assist social workers in identifying important concerns. The Code provides ethical standards to which the general public can hold the social work profession accountable.
  4. The Code introduces new practitioners to the purpose, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards of social work. It also encourages all social workers to engage in self-care, continuing education, and other activities to guarantee their commitment to the profession.
  5. The Code establishes principles that the social work profession can use to determine whether or not a social worker has participated in unethical behaviour. The NASW also has institutional mechanisms in place to handle ethics complaints lodged against its members. Social workers who subscribe to this Code must cooperate in its implementation, and also participate in NASW adjudication procedures. Furthermore, they must abide by any NASW disciplinary judgements or punishments based on it.

Read more on the  National Association of Social Workers’ website

The NASW also has ethical responsibilities that bind all social workers’ ethical conduct to clients, colleagues, the social work profession and the broader society.

Organisations and Regulatory Boards for Social Workers

As a social work student, joining a social work organisation or a regulatory body poses a beneficial advantage to you in addition to your future career. Professional networking and internship possibilities are two instances of such perks. These organisations are also fully recognised by the NASW and have high professional members. Some of these organisations include:

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