Legal Ethical Issues in Social Work
These conflicts are among the most discouraging circumstances faced by social workers. Compliance with legal expectations and requirements may conflict with social workers` understanding of ethical standards in social work, and adherence to ethical standards may result in violations of the law. Ethical decisions in social work that involve legal issues do not always involve ethical dilemmas, particularly situations where social workers` decisions conform to legal and ethical standards. However, other situations lead to difficult ethical dilemmas, particularly when social workers` decisions conform to legal standards, but not to prevailing ethical standards in social work, and practitioners` decisions conform to prevailing ethical standards in social work, but not to statutory standards. In some cases, social workers believe that actions that the law permits or requires would violate ethical standards in social work or that actions that would violate the law are necessary to maintain ethical standards in the profession. Especially when it comes to mental health and addictions trends, social workers are acutely aware of the fragility of recovery for their clients. Because of this, they may feel compelled to remain silent when a well-meaning customer crosses an ethical line. To skillfully address this recurring problem, social workers must first identify the most common forms of ethical issues in their field. Then, they can establish a method to gently guide customers to a more productive approach that minimizes the impact on morale. While the information exchanged between social workers and their clients is strictly confidential, there may be situations where the social worker may need to disclose client information to third parties.
Sometimes these situations include minors who may or may not be entitled to certain privacy rights, depending on federal, state, and agency laws. Acting in these situations can be difficult and painful, as they can feel like a major breach of trust for both parties. The history of social work is replete with cases where social workers have had to make conscious decisions about whether to obey the law, especially when it seems to conflict with social work values. Ultimately, such decisions present some of the profession`s most difficult ethical dilemmas. These are the dilemmas that lead to fierce disagreements among practitioners, dilemmas that require serious collegial consultation and oversight, and reflection on the implications of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics. NASW provides a list of questions to ask in case of an ethical dilemma. Some important points are: NASW strictly prohibits relationships between social workers and their clients outside of a professional context. However, these compounds can sometimes be difficult to avoid. Social workers and their clients can live in the same communities, shop in the same stores or send their children to the same schools and share intimate details of life due to the nature of their work. Social work practitioners must choose the most ethical and professional way to deal with their clients in a non-professional setting. • Case law: Many social work laws are drafted by the courts through litigation and court decisions.
For example, a judge may need to interpret the meaning or application of an existing law, resolve conflicts between laws, or fill gaps in existing laws. These court decisions become precedents or jurisprudence. For example, current policies on the obligation of social workers to disclose confidential information without the client`s consent to protect others were established in the 1970s by a major California court case. By calling yourself a social worker, you also have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the profession. Legal and ethical issues that may arise in this area include practicing in your area of responsibility, avoiding dishonesty and cheating, not allowing behavior in your personal life to interfere with your professional role, and dealing with personal issues such as mental health disorders or substance abuse. SWHelper emphasizes the importance of being aware of personal issues and past trauma in order to maintain objectivity, boundaries, and professional distance as a social worker. In social work, ethical behaviour is an essential but complex practice. Social workers often have to act quickly and effectively in the face of difficult moral dilemmas, especially when the results can have a profound impact on their clients` life course. It is therefore imperative that social workers become familiar with both the dilemmas they may face in this area and the standards of best practice in their profession.
Although the job of social workers is to help people make informed decisions, they are ultimately not responsible for the actions of their clients. When clients choose to act against their own self-interest (for example, former addicts who decide to visit their former trafficker), it can be tempting for social workers to offer “hard love” to their clients. But barring extenuating circumstances, social workers must ultimately respect the autonomy of their clients. The nature of legal norms Legal standards relevant to social work take various forms, including: A social worker`s commitment is primarily to her clients. Despite her best intentions, a social worker may face some legal and ethical challenges in social work when interacting with clients and their families. The most common issues that can arise include confidentiality, professional boundaries, respect for the client`s right to self-determination, and awareness of conflicts of interest. An online MSW degree with ethics courses is a solid foundation for understanding and avoiding ethical dilemmas in social work. Sometimes social workers need to encourage clients to be self-employed. Instead of recommending a specific course of action for hesitant customers, it is more important for the customer`s autonomy to keep the conversation open so that they can choose (within defined parameters). “What do you think we should do?” or “Which of these options do you think is best?” Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, social workers had to use technology that met the requirements of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. The pandemic has changed all that by revising federal regulations to allow social workers to schedule telemedicine calls with clients on any platform. However, the requirement to protect client records and privacy is still in place, resulting in a difficult situation between responding to clients in need and ensuring their protection.
In practice, ethical considerations can sometimes seem difficult and open to interpretation. It is a wide range of views that covers a range of practical issues. Some ethical and legal issues in practice may include the dual relationship between supervisors and supervised entities, maintaining change in this area by attending regular continuing education courses, and maintaining ethical accounting practices, such as preventing double billing or simply invoicing for services rendered. Other dilemmas social workers may face include billing under false names or circumstances, or interviewing children without parental consent. Technologies such as telemedicine and electronic health records are part of every practice environment. Social workers who understand the benefits and pitfalls of technology can better meet the needs of their clients and protect their privacy rights.