What is the Social Work Code of Ethics?

A career in social work is a career on the front lines of human well-being. Social workers help people meet daily life challenges, provide guidance through adversity, improve communities, and spearhead social change.

Social workers are found in a variety of contexts, focusing on specific issues or demographics. What ties all social work together is a sense of responsibility, a desire to help make a better life for the people and communities they serve, and an understanding of the fundamental social work code of ethics.

As advocates for social justice and change, the essential mission of social workers is often very personal, placing the practitioner squarely in the lives of their clients. The decisions they encompass include issues of physical and mental health, economics, social justice and change, politics, and more. These are “hot button” topics in public discourse. Social work requires sensitivity and awareness of how they impact the personal lives of individuals. Inherent in all social work is the ability to make ethical decisions on behalf of their clients.

Defining the ethical principles upon which decisions are made is the cornerstone of all social work.

What is the Social Work Code of Ethics?

Developed by the National Association of Social Workers, the Social Work Code of Ethics is a set of guidelines reinforcing the six core values of all social work:

  • Service
  • Social Justice
  • Dignity and Worth of the Person
  • Importance of Human Relationships
  • Integrity
  • Competence

Built around these core values, the Social Work Code of Ethics summarizes the broad ethical principles of the profession. Grounded by these principles and values, professional social workers can refer to general standards set forth to help guide their work in specific situations.

Resources within the Code of Ethics provide reference and training material for benchmarking knowledge and upgrading skills.

Doctors, lawyers, counselors, and others all work in the nitty-gritty details of people’s lives. Social work is unique in its variety of applications and contexts. The Social Work Code of Ethics balances the needs and concerns of clients with the general ethical principles of social work to bring the best outcomes for people and communities in need. It lays the cornerstone from which all else manifests.

Preparing for a Career as a Social Worker

Humans are a social species. Social work, therefore, goes to the heart of humanity. The online Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Touro University Worldwide prepares students motivated to do the hard and highly principled work of a professional social worker.

A combination of field and classroom work reinforces practical competency skills with values-based study in human behavior and diversity, multicultural awareness, policy, and the social context of the environment. Through the case study method, students examine the ethical standards laid out in the Social Work Code of Ethics.

Upon receiving their bachelor’s degree in social work, students will possess the practical experience, theoretical knowledge, and ethical underpinning for a rewarding and noble career in social work.

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