There are ethical considerations that influence disaster response and recovery efforts and that may go unrecognized within the complex situations created by disasters.
This purpose of this short assessment is to invite the exploration of your ability to practice social work ethically and responsibly. After your answers have been recorded, your instructor may want to engage you and your classmates in discussion. It will help you considerably if you can explain why you think your answer is consistent with a specific portion of the Code. It is important to remember that ethical behavior is mediated by context. Thus, the information given in the examples below may be insufficient for a definitive answer. In those situations, think about the contexts in which you would provide a different answer and be prepared to explain why, using the Code as guidance.
- Are you able to support clients’ decisions, even when you believe those decisions are morally wrong (but legal)? For example, could you support a client’s decision to stop medications? To leave treatment against medical advice? To terminate a pregnancy? To lie to an employer?
- Are you willing to engage in evidence-based practice? Relatedly, are you willing to use rigorous evaluation principles to collect that evidence when it is not available? Take continuing education courses to keep abreast of best practices in your field?
- If you find yourself with a client who is of a different religious, racial, or ethnic background, are you willing to meet them on their own cultural ground (for example, if you are working with a newly emigrated Islamic family in which the role of the female in the household may be more limited than in the United States, can you respect this interaction style? Are you willing to take the time to read, or talk to more experienced colleagues about work with clients with these differences)?
- Can you delineate clear and appropriate professional boundaries with clients?
- Can you appropriately maintain client confidentiality? If you have difficulty keeping the confidences of others in your everyday life, can you be certain that you can keep professional confidences?
- If you believe that the rules within your organization or the laws of your state contravene the values of this profession, such as social justice, or the accord of dignity to all, are you willing to engage in social and political action efforts to change this?
- Impairment of professional helpers by drugs, alcohol, or other addictions is not uncommon. If you suspect that a colleague is so impaired, will you intervene? How? Furthermore, can you be vigilant about your own behavior in this regard? How? Would failure to act be a violation of the Code?
- Let us say that you received an offer of employment in your dream job. The new employer is asking that you start by the end of the week. Is this a potential ethical dilemma? If so, what must be done before you can responsibly leave for that new position?
- One symptom of burnout may be the use of disparaging language to describe clients-epithets, crude descriptions, etc. Is this behavior a violation of the Code? If so, what will you do about it?
- Are you willing to practice in as transparent a manner as possible? For example, in cases where the client is involuntary, such as child welfare, are you willing to make the terms under which the case will be closed explicit to the family?