Social Work Code of Ethics
The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics is a set of values, principles and standards for social workers to adhere to and reference in order to guide decision making and conduct. Because ethical decision making arises frequently in social work, there are not always easy answers. Any given situation can have nuances and idiosyncrasies that bring a social worker from black and white to the grayest of areas. Ideally, a social worker can apply this set of ethics to a situation in order to make an informed and appropriate decision or judgment.
If the primary goal of a social worker is to help people improve the quality of their lives and meet their basic human needs, then a social worker’s essential task is personal, social, political, economic and more. Social workers are advocates for social justice and change, working on behalf of their clients to improve the environmental forces that create, contribute to and address quality of life.
Social Work Core Values
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) defines the mission of the Code of Ethics as being rooted in a set of core values. The core values are:
- Social Justice
- Dignity and Worth of the Person
- Importance of Human Relationships
The NASW uses the core values to build a balance that responds to and aims to improve on the complexity of the human experience.
The code is divided into different sections that outline the specific responsibilities of a social worker. This includes social workers’ ethical responsibilities: to clients, to colleagues, in practice settings, as professionals, to the social work profession and to the broader society.
It’s important for social workers to have the Social Work Code of Ethics because the nature of their work can be very personal and directly plants them into the lives of their clients.
Applying the Social Work Code of Ethics
At the heart of social work is the idea of responsibility. Social workers help their clients to take responsibility for their own lives and respond to or get out of bad situations. Though the NASW’s Code of Ethics doesn’t guarantee ethical behavior from social workers, it does provide a set of guidelines and language that other social workers, employers, organizations and agencies can use in order to judge a social worker’s behavior or response to a situation.
In this way, the Social Worker Code of Ethics can be used in a peer-review process. The Code of Ethics in social work is used by professionals as a landmark and touchstone of ethical practice. Social workers’ commitment to the code ideally results in upholding it and performing their duties according to the core values.
Most of the standards explained by the NASW are enforceable guidelines for professional conduct. However, some are aspirational and can be interpreted in different ways based on any number of influences. It’s important to have guidelines spelled out and agreed upon by the social work profession so that every individual social worker can behave and react accordingly.
Ready To Get Started?
- What You’ll Earn: Salaries in Health and Human Services
- Things to Consider When You Are Getting An MBA
- Psychology: Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science?
- Interested in Becoming a Psychologist?
- 5 Career Paths for Public Health Degree Graduates
- Five Traits of a Good Leader
- Health Care Administration Careers
- What is Dispute Resolution
- Post-graduation options: Where can I work with a bachelor of science in health sciences and health care administration?
- The Role of Industrial and Organizational Psychology in the Workplace
- A Day in the Life of a Healthcare Administrator
- What is the Role of an Organizational Psychologist?
- Steps to Becoming a Healthcare Administrator
- How Do I Become a Marriage and Family Therapist?
- A Day in the Life of a Social Worker
- Jobs in Psychology
- Career Profile: Nursing Home Administrator
- Defining Conflict Management
- Social Work Code of Ethics
- What Can I Do with a Health Sciences Degree
- Unique Social Work Careers
- Career Profile: Health Educator
- Marriage and Family Therapists: Salary Potential and Career Growth
- Are You Well-Suited for a Career in Human Services?
- Should I Get a Doctoral Degree?
- Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists
- Options for Associate Degree Graduates
- What Degree Should I Get?
- Liberal Studies vs General Studies
- Human Resource Management Degree
- Steps to Becoming a Psychologist
- What Does An Educational Psychologist Do?
- 5 Types of Therapists
- General Studies Degree Career Possiblities
- 4 Types of Therapy for Mental Health and Well-Being
- Top 4 Careers in Public Health
- Careers in Industrial & Organizational Psychology
- Is A General Studies Degree Worth It?
- Top 5 Jobs: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- What Is A Human Resources Manager?
- Tackling Nonprofit Fundraising
- A Day in the Life of a Financial Analyst
- 5 Ways to Define Good Communication
- How Do I Become an Accountant?
- Fortune 500 Companies in California
- Communication Skills in the Workplace
- 5 Qualities of a Good Manager
- MBA Specializations
- How to Become a Family Therapist
- Degree Profile: What Can You Do With an MBA?
- What is a Human Resource Manager
- What Do I Need to Become a Psychologist?
- Is Earning an MBA Worth the Effort?
- Become a healthcare administrator & join one of...
- Psychology graduates will find many therapist j...
- Child rearing practices differ from culture to ...