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Because of the complexity of what social workers do, all the interests affected by an ethical issue in practice can not invariably be reconciled. Frequently social workers confuse a clinical or nonmoral aspect of practice with a moral or ethical aspect of practice.However, ethical practice requires that they be satisfactorily reckoned with, not so much in quest of what may be considered a successful outcome, as in fulfillment of ethical responsibility. the prevention of harm takes precedence over enhancing self esteem.) 7. It is important to ascertain whether what you have is truly an ethical issue or a clinical issue.
In this example, an ethical dilemma exists in that both values, self-determination and confidentiality, cannot be equally and necessarily upheld. It is important to actually go through the exercise of writing out what the competing values are to make sure you are thinking through the situation rationally.
Herein lies the difficulty with how to resolve ethical dilemmas--how to contend with all the facets of one's ethical obligations in light of competing social work values. If there is only one value at stake then the social worker is obligated to actively support that social work value.
Social workers and mental health professionals must develop skills to balance their roles as “human service” workers and actors in the legal system.
Yet until they experience real-world situations, few have an opportunity to apply legal and ethical reasoning to the kinds of dilemmas faced in daily practice.
Ethics in social work practice are social work values up close and personal; and while competent practice is efficient, ethical practice is obligatory. It is where there are two or more competing values that the social worker is obligated to proceed with a full "ethical analysis" using ethical principles, not clinical principles, to contend with the demands of reconciling the conflict.
But not all ethical practices are necessarily cost-effective or time efficient. National Association of Social Workers - Massachusetts Chapter 11 Beacon Street, Suite 510, Boston MA 02108 tel: (617)227-9635 fax: (617)227-9877 email: [email protected] 2017, NASW-MA. Sometimes conflicts arise between the social worker's professional obligation to a client – the client's right to confidentiality, for example – and the social worker's own ethics, her concern for the client's well-being or her obligation to the community.These conflicts can arise as well with agencies, administrators or colleagues.The word "moral" or to be "moral" means to be capable of making the distinction between right and wrong.Moral reasoning/ethical reasoning in social work practice means being able to make the distinction between right and wrong in how one conducts the practice of social work.There are ethical and nonethical aspects of social work.The "nonethical" aspects include various aspects of clinical practice, for example, particular intervention techniques, process notes, where to conduct one's practice, whether or not to collect fees or methods of assessment.In fact, quite to the contrary, ethical practice at times is laborious and time-consuming. What is the proposed action to be taken which needs to be evaluated as ethical or unethical? However, this is at the very heart of the social worker's difficulty in sorting out any given service situation, for it is at this interface where what one can do and what one should do that ethics transcends practice and we encounter ethical dilemmas. They may also involve social policy, research projects or the passage of federal or state laws that harm clients.Other ethical dilemmas involve conflicts with colleagues.