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The goal of social work professionals is for the well-being and empowering of those in society who are impoverished, living in oppression, and vulnerable. Social workers must also focus on the forces in a person’s environment that are involved in making and contributing to problems in living conditions.
Those people who are assisted by social workers are referred to as clients. They can be individuals, groups, families, or communities. Therefore, social workers must be attuned to cultural, racial, and ethnical differences in people. This will help put an end to discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other types of social wrongs.
There are six core values on which the social work profession is based. These are service, social justice, dignity, and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. These core values are the fundamental principles that a social worker should use in dealing with clients and helps guide them in treating the clients with dignity and respect.
The social workers Code of Ethics are at the core of the profession. These ethics are of great importance to all social work students as well. They help in making sound judgments and decisions when dealing with all segments of the population regardless of the clients’ religion, race, or ethnicity.
The six core values of social work have ethical principles which are the ideals to which each social worker should strive to meet. Service happens when a social worker uses his or her knowledge, values, and skills to help those in need. Social justice is when a social worker attempts social change on behalf of those who can’t help themselves. Dignity and worth of the person is showing respect to each client regardless of their social situation. The importance of human relationships is seen by social workers in their efforts to advance, renew, and improve the well-being of families, social groups, and communities. Integrity is behaving at all times in a trusting manner. Competence is basically a social worker knowing his or her job and taking steps to improving their professional expertise.
Pertinent Ethics and Values Dealing with Worth and Dignity
There are several ethics and values that relate to human diversity and the worth and dignity of persons. Employment of these ethics and values are of great importance to the social worker and the client. They are as follows:
Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Social workers may limit clients’ right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.
1.03 Informed Consent
(b) In instances when clients are not literate or have difficulty understanding the primary language used in the practice setting, social workers should take steps to ensure clients’ comprehension. This may include providing clients with a detailed verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator whenever possible.
(c) In instances when clients lack the capacity to provide informed consent, social workers should protect clients’ interests by seeking permission form an appropriate third party, informing clients consistent with the clients’ level of understanding. In such instances social workers should seek to ensure that the third party acts in a manner consistent with clients’ wishes and interests. Social workers should take reasonable steps to enhance such clients’ ability to give informed consent.
1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity
(a) Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.
(b) Social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients’ cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.
(c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality
(a) Social workers should respect clients’ right to privacy. Social workers should not solicit private information form clients unless it is essential to providing services or conducting social work evaluation or research. Once private information is shared, standards of confidentiality apply.
(d) Social workers should inform clients, to the extent possible, about the disclosure of confidential information and the potential consequences, when feasible, before the disclosure is made. This applies whether social workers disclose confidential information on the basis of a legal requirement or client consent.
(f) When social workers provide counseling services to families, couples, or groups, social workers should seek agreement among the parties involved concerning each individual’s right to confidentiality and obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information shared by others. Social workers should inform participants in family, couples, or group counseling that social workers cannot guarantee that all participants will honor such agreements.
1.11 Sexual Harassment
Social workers should not sexually harass clients. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
1.12 Derogatory Language
Social workers should not use derogatory language in their written or verbal communications to or about clients. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.
1.14 Clients Who Lack Decision-Making Capacity
When social workers act on behalf of clients who lack the capacity to make informed decisions, social workers should take reasonable steps to safeguard the interests and rights of those clients.
(a) Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and should represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.
(b) Social workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in communications with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence or to individuals’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
(c) Social workers should cooperate with social work colleagues and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation serves the well-being of clients
Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.
4.03 Private Conduct
Social workers should not permit their private conduct to interfere with their ability to fulfill their professional responsibilities.
4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud, and Deception
Social workers should not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, or deception.
My Views of the Ethics and Values Dealing with Worth and Dignity
Self-determination is a very important value when dealing with a client. This allows the client, with assistance from the social worker, to identify their goals. The client will feel a sense of ownership in reaching said goals.
Privacy and confidentiality also play a huge role in preserving the worth and dignity of someone receiving assistance. Everyone, regardless of their status in society, has a right to privacy. Some clients may not know that they have these rights or may believe that their right to privacy has been forfeited since they are receiving assistance. This, of course, is not true, and the social worker should inform the client of this fact.
The social worker also has to realize that not all of the people receiving services are literate and must therefore explain to those clients the disclosure of confidential information. This also pertains to each individual’s rights to confidentiality when providing counseling to couples or groups.
A social worker should never make advances of a sexual nature to a client. This may lead some clients to believe that the only way that they can receive assistance is to give into those advances. It may also cause others to not seek assistance at all.
Derogatory language, either verbal or written, can be demoralizing to a client. A social worker has to be aware of the culture of the person that they are addressing. What may not be significant to the social worker may, on the other hand, be offensive to the client.
The decision-making process varies from client to client. The social worker must make sure that when he or she is acting of behalf of a client that the client’s interests and rights are safe guarded.
Respect in the Social Work Code of Ethics is under the ethical responsibilities to colleagues, but it should also be under the way clients should be treated. When one shows respect to another person, communication is greatly enhanced, and communication is what social work revolves around.
Discrimination is something that can not and should not be practiced, condoned, or facilitated by a social worker. This means discrimination of any type to include; race, ethnicity, sex, color, marital status, politics, mental disability, immigration status, or sexual orientation. Discrimination has an adverse effect on the client and the social work profession.
When a social worker allows their private life to affect their work, no one wins. A social worker must be professional enough to separate the two. Another issue that deals with a social worker’s professionalism is his or her ability to not take part in any way with deception, dishonesty, or fraud.
My Application of the Ethics
When dealing with ethnicity, I will learn about what is acceptable and unacceptable with each ethnic group. I will ensure that I differentiate between ethnicity and race.
National origin has to be dealt with in a similar way as with ethnicity. Therefore, I will ensure that I am aware of the customs of the client’s homeland.
Social class requires that a social worker not form preconceived notions of the person being served. I will keep my mind open and ensure, as with all cases, to listen to what is being said.
Religion is a very touchy subject that has to be handled. I will make every effort to understand the customs and traditions of various religious groups in order not to offend.
When dealing with a client that has a physical or mental disability, I will ensure that their dignity and worth is not compromised. I will use language that they can easily understand, and I will not talk down to the individual.
Everyone has the right to live their life they way that they choose. I will never judge a client based on their sexual orientation. This and the previous subjects can be handled by simply being a professional. I will strive to be a consummate professional at all times.
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