Social workers often wear two hats, struggling to find a balance between their values and ethics for what they feel is right for their client and their agency’s mandate which do not necessarily align with one another. The paper will address a particular case whereby the worker is placed in a situation of ambiguity and must use his or her values and ethics to guide the situation.
The first value is professional values following the social workers code of ethics; the case goes in line with the codes of Respect for the Inherent Dignity and Worth of Persons, Integrity in Professional Practice, Respect Confidentiality in Professional Practice and Competence in Professional Practice. The second part of the paper will address the personal values of a social worker that influences the interactions with his or her client. For instance, cultural, societal and individual values and ethics play a part during and after the interaction with the client of the social worker.
Finally, the paper will address the objectives or solutions or strategies for this case scenario with the client such as referrals, group or community support. Case Imagine a social worker works for an organization that offers services to men who are subject to violent acts. A client informs the worker that he is mad at his wife and intends to beat her up when arriving home at the end of the day. What can the social worker do? (Richard Silver/Order) ? Values All people are influenced and pushed by unseen values or commitments, a social worker in practice, must be consciously aware of these conscious and unconscious influences.
Vigilante recognizes that social work values are the ‘fulcrum of practice’ (1974, p. 114). For that reason, it is critical for a social worker to take into account the societal, cultural, verbal and nonverbal communication of themselves and of the client in ethical decision making (127). There are many theories that tackle the art of ethical decision making in the realm of social work, one of them is a framework designed by Reamer. He suggests to first, identify ethical issues and conflicting social work ethics and values.
Then, identify the individual or groups likely to be affected. Then, identify all possible course of action including a pros and cons list for potential risks and benefits. Also, to examine reasons in favor of and opposed to each course of action. Last, proceed decision making along with the necessary documentation (26, skills). Social workers, dealing with ethical dilemmas is not uncommon. This is one of many strategies in solving an ethical dilemma. Professional Values Social workers have a mandate to respect the code of ethics in social work (CASW).
Professional codes are designed to help groups and the public to avoid conflicts in values or ethics. It provides a fallback method since codes delineate and identify professional boundaries. A worker is sworn to professional secrecy, which means only that the breaking of this confidentiality can only happen with the client’s authorization, when the client harms themselves, or others, or there is a court order (Richard Silver). It is important to individually assess the client’s situation before deciding whether to break confidentiality or keep it.
For example, when a client says he will harm his wife, it would be difficult to know the extent to which the woman will be harmed or if she will be harmed at all. Perhaps the man is simply expressing himself in an extreme way and will not actually commit domestic violence. The first step would be to ask the man the reasons for his violent inclinations, after which the worker can prompt questions to make him realize the potential consequences of his actions. Between workers, supervisors.
Circular questions elicit information about connections between the client and other people, helping the client to realize the effect that their actions could have on people’s behaviors and actions (Chap 9, page 137). For instance, in this case, the social worker should ask the client what he thinks will happen if he beats his wife. A worker can also take a different approach by using a positive strategy, for instance, by asking him to focus on the positive aspects of his wife. This can allow him to feel less angry towards her and make him reassess his desire to act violently.
Some examples could be simply asking him: “What about when she cooks you supper how do you feel? Does that make you feel happy? ” (Human service Practice Skills, chap 9,10). After asking circular questions, one can find the disadvantages in his or her life and then focus on empowering the client to realize their hopes for themselves, families and their communities. This approach is called Mountain Moving Theories ( Ives 39). A social worker must deal with the crisis at hand and provide a listening ear while being open minded.
Similarly, they should display a non-judgmental attitude towards all clients regardless of their age, gender or socioeconomic status (CASW). In this case scenario, in the context of an organization for men subject to acts of violence, it is the responsibility of the social worker is to aid men and be prepared to deal with this topic. In addition, social workers must remain objective to the client’s history of violence. Therefore, the worker should be in line with the value of Competency in Professional Practice by acting resiliently and displaying non-judgmental attitudes to the difficult clients they may have.
Integrity in professional practice where “Social workers demonstrate and promote the qualities of honesty, reliability, impartiality and diligence in their professional practice. ”(CASW) The mandate of a social worker is to place the client’s needs above their own experiences, opinions and religion as well as to remain objective in order to provide a safe space for the client. Objectivity is defined as the capacity to understand situations and people without bias or distortion (Shebib, ? ).
However, a complete absence of judgment can be difficult in specific circumstances since society naturally labels people and situations, lumping people into one category. The Unconditional Positive Regard [method/practice], a theory invented by Carl Rogers, is a coping strategy to encourage positive reinforcement and a positive outlook on one’s clients (Bob Shebib, 80). This theory encourages that acceptance is felt and communicated by counselors without condition, judgment or expectation. Rogers argues that a judgmental attitude in social work practice would be counterproductive to helping people.
Rather, Rogers suggests to be warm and caring towards clients in order to have positive results. Key concepts in Rogers’ theory include the value of empathy and genuineness. Empathy provides a working alliance with clients. Furthermore, strategies for the social worker to cope with these kinds of situations could be the act of conversing with clients. In this case, the social worker could ask the client about his reasoning for his urge of violence or asking the client if he is aware of what may be the potential consequences of his actions.
The Unconditional Positive Regard validates everyone’s need to feel loved, and by focusing on the positives aspects or traits of the client, allows you to determine who the person is underneath his or her behaviors and/or labels. Society has an easy time placing labels on others but social workers must not fall prey to this tendency. By placing one’s identity beyond their artificial labels, this demonstrates a competent social worker in practice. Personal Values Personal values, involves critical reflection, thus ensuring awareness through engaging with varying perspectives (23).
Understanding your beliefs and attitudes ensures your appreciation of the dangers of imposing your values on your clients” (14, Skills for Human Service Practice). Additionally to personal values is the practice of Countertransference. Countertransference is defined by Gladding (2011, page 42) as “the positive or negative wishes, fantasies, and feelings that a counselor unconsciously directs or transfers to a client, stemming from his or her own unresolved conflicts” Examples include unusual interest, admiration, boredom, anger, hatred, anxiety or dread in relation to a client that become an obstacle to effective clinical work.
The risk of countertransference underscore the importance of counselor self-awareness and the responsibility of supervisors to provide opportunities for them. On a personal note, domestic abuse triggers feelings of anger and frustration and may put me in a biased and somewhat uneven position to help my client. Personally, this type of client would be difficult for me to handle since I have direct experience with this topic. This is why, as a social worker, I would try to set aside my values in order to serve the client in the best way possible.
This is an integral part of the job of a social worker, setting aside personal values, experiences and mindsets to understand and respect all clients equally while providing a listening ear. (CASW). This is also known as counter-transference where a social worker’s personal emotional issues entangle with the clients, thereby an unresolved family issue may project to the client. (50, skills) Countertransference is seen as a neutral connotation. It can be either positive or negative. in this case, it would be negative, since abuse triggers my frustrations towards an unresolved family conflict.
By seeing and knowing the needs of the client and whether they are fulfilled, this will ensure if your values and ethics are on the right track. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (91, Shebib) highlights the fundamental steps in breaking down a case. In the figure, it presents at the most bottom “Basic survival” which means, necessities to live such as food, clothing and shelter.
After ensuring the clients meets basic necessities, the next on the ladder is “safety”. this ensures the protection of the person. the third on the hierarchy of needs are belonging, this encompases, spiritual, societal, familial belonging. he next on this ladder is self-esteem, the client’s sense of self worth. and following self-esteem, at the highest is self-actualization, this refers to the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, to the tendency for him to become actualized in what he is potentially. Using this structure as a guide to implement ethical values. A lot of times social workers look at the client, but they also must reflect on themselves by analyzing and monitoring their behavior (CASW). This will help them in their practice to aid their clients. Consequently, a healthy social worker leads to healthy clients.