Ethical Values in Social Work

1375 words 6 pages
Social work values and ethical dilemmas

What are values, ethics, ethical dilemmas and a code of ethics?

Values relate to principles and attitudes that provide direction to everyday living. Values also refer to beliefs or standards considered desirable by a culture, group or individual (AASW). Similar to values, but slightly different, ethics means a system of beliefs held about what constitutes moral judgement and right conduct, they are moral principles (rules, guides) (AASW). So an ethical dilemma is then when a person is faced with a choice between two equally conflicting moral principles and it is not clear cut which choice will be the right one (AASW). Finally, ‘a code of ethics’ is an explicit statement of the values,
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2. It is then important for the social worker to distinguish the practice aspects of the case from the ethical considerations (so separate practice from how you have learned to think about ethical issues). 3. Identify value tensions 4. The social worker must refer to the professional code of ethics – to help clarify obligations and identify the principles that have a bearing on the dilemma 5. The social worker projects, weighs, and measures the possible courses of action that seem reasonable and the potential consequences of these 6. The social worker after weighing up options must select an action for resolving a dilemma. This involves determining which of the competing obligations are we going to honour foremost (this may mean at the expense of others). 7. The social worker reaches the resolution stage and this means being able to justify the decision.

Thirdly, it is important for social workers to take time to reflect on their practice and own values. This is a vital point because although guides and frameworks can be developed (as above) to offer social workers a logical approach to the decision making process, to some extent, the use of discretionary judgements is evitable (Mattison, 2000). The value system and preferences of the decision maker (social worker) shape the process of working through dilemmas and so it is important for social


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