Social workers make a meaningful contribution to the betterment of society and improving the lives of individuals. As a social worker, you may work on a macro scale, which might mean working for an organization that helps underdeveloped nations, or you may choose to work on a micro level, such as in a private practice providing individual counseling. Regardless of the setting you choose to work in, you're expected to adhere to a professional code of ethics, which includes the five core values of social work.
1. Service to Humanity
Service to others is one of the main values in social work, from which all of the other values stem. Social workers acknowledge that serving others is more important than self-interest and put the needs of their clients ahead of their own. This can be difficult at times, and you'll be expected to seek the advice of your supervisor or even participate in your own psychotherapy to help you deal with any personal issues that may arise. Additionally, the value of service means that you'll be encouraged to volunteer some portion of your time, or working on a pro bono basis, according to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers.
2. Social Justice
Social justice is another key value of social work. Many social workers decide to enter the profession because they recognize the need to help underprivileged, vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, those struggling with substance abuse issues or victims of domestic violence. Becoming a social worker means that you have an inherent desire to improve the lives of people who are less fortunate or unable to advocate for themselves. According to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers, social change efforts in social work are primarily focused on unemployment, poverty, discrimination and other forms of social injustice.
3. Human Dignity and Worth
As a social worker, you understand the inherent value of every human life, regardless of background or beliefs. You respect the differences between your personal beliefs and those of your clients, taking into account ethnic and cultural diversity. There may be times that you have to deal with your own biases against a particular population. It can be a struggle, but you have to put aside your feelings for the sake of helping your clients. You acknowledge that your clients have the right to self-determination – even if you think you know what's best in a given situation.
Integrity means acting honesty, responsibly and ethically at all times. You are trustworthy and you don't betray client confidentiality, unless you're required to do so in certain circumstances by law, such as in cases of suicidality. Not only do you act with integrity, but you also promote integrity in your colleagues and other professionals. For example, you don't ignore a colleague who gossips about a client – you confront this colleague directly or bring your concerns to the attention of your supervisor.
The value of competence means that you practice in your area of expertise and you don't misrepresent your skills or experience to get ahead. Competence also means that you're continually striving to improve your knowledge and to make meaningful contributions to the profession. This might mean that you participate in continuing education classes or professional conferences on a regular basis or engage in academic research.
About the Author
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.
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This paper will look for the way in which the code of ethics for Human Services expresses such values as Integrity, Respect for others, Responsibility, Justice, Beneficence and nonmaleficence, and compassion.
“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. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living” (NASW code of ethics).
The set of core values that Social Workers use are:
* Social justice
* Dignity and worth of the person
* Importance of human relationships
The NASW code of ethics looks at the value of Responsibility as Service. It states that social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers elevate service to others above self-interest, and social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to address social problems.
Justice is considered as social Justice for social workers. Social workers are to “pursue social change” and on the behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused on all forms of social injustice, especially on the issues of poverty, unemployment, and discrimination.
Dignity and Worth of the Person is the core value of Human Services known as respect for others. Social workers are supposed to treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion being mindful to individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers seek to enhance clients’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs. Social workers are responsible to both their clients and to the broader society.
Beneficence and nonmaleficence and compassion are called in social work Importance of Human Relationships in social work. Social workers use their relationships with people as an “important vehicle for change”. Social workers seek to strengthen relationships among people in an effort to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well being of individuals and their families, different social groups, organizations, and the community.
Integrity- Social workers are to behave in a trustworthy manner. Social workers are constantly and consistently aware of their profession’s mission, and values. They act honestly and responsibly and promote ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which they are affiliated.
Social workers also have another value in their code of ethics which is Competence. This allows social workers to practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise. They continually strive to increase their professional knowledge and skills to better themselves in bettering others, and to apply them in practice.
The NASW Code of Ethics for social workers identifies each of these values as values for the professional by directly referencing social workers and their goals in each value.
There is an explicit appeal for each of these values in that in the code under every value there is a brief statement about the specific principle value of the social worker stating the objective of social workers in general.
The requirements outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics for social workers are quite extensive in that they thoroughly explain the goal, professionalism and standards of the relationships between and among individuals, groups, and the community.
The NASW code of ethics for social workers lists very detailed matter covering all parts or work and work ethic. It goes as far as listing ethical rules for the social worker profession and for the broader society.
There may be some problems acting out these values for the professionals covered by this code because they are very detailed and strict, or limiting. One may be justice. A social worker may feel that their client is not guilty of a crime and want to shelter them from the law (or vice-versa). This is against the code of ethics because the social worker has to do what is right not only for his client, but for the broader society. This also ties in with another value, Integrity. The social worker must show integrity and do what is demanded of them. Another value would be Respect for others. The social worker must put aside his prejudices and bias thoughts and treat their client fair and just worthy.