Social Work Programs

February 23, 2010

Code of Ethics for Social Work: NASW Guide

codeofethicsforsocialworknasw There’s a code of ethics for social work on the NASW site, which stands for National Association of Social Workers. The NASW Code of Ethics is a guide that will help social work professionals to conduct themselves properly. It defines what is to be expected and consists of four areas.


1. The first, called the “Preamble” gives a summary of the social worker’s mission and core values.

2. The second, called the "Purpose of the NASW Code of Ethics," shows the Code's primary purpose. There’s a brief guide, which deals with any ethical problems, issues or dilemmas which might appear as pertains to any social work in practice.

3. The third, which is called, "Ethical Principles," talks more about the ethical core beliefs, or values that the social worker should stand for. Social justice and dignity of the person are two areas discussed.

4. The final is called “Ethical Standards.” It shows what standards the social worker should stand by when they conduct their work in a day-to-day basis. Two important values discussed are the principles of self-determination and committment to clients. One important practice is that if you are terminating the client's sessions it is important to not do this abruptly but to prepare them and help with the transition to another therapist.

Although this NASW code ethics is written for NASW members, this is an excellent guide even if you don't belong to NASW or for anybody who is involved with client care in the helping profession in general whether it's counseling, coaching or other areas that involve patient concern and trust.

If someone is part of NASW, and you think they violated this Code of Ethics, you can file complaints with NASW at http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp or contact their toll-free telephone number at 1(800) 638-8799

The desire at NASW is to provide a social worker with a structure upon which they can hang their performance each day. They wish to enhance the well-being of people in their actions, encouraging the empowerment of people who might be in a very vulnerable position so that they aren’t powerless. Clients put their trust in their therapist and it is important to remember this. People are fragile psychologically and emotionally dependent on one's counselor.

Everybody, of course, believes that the primary mission of any social work professional should be to enhance the well-being of one's patients. However, that isn’t always what occurs in life. A code of ethics for social work helps because it gives the direction as well as areas to reflect upon.

For those entering the social work profession, they would do well to read the ethical principles. It will get one to think about the potential issues which lie ahead.

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