Ethics Alive! A Text in the Night

Comments (4)

Comment Feed

Ethics Alive! A Text in the Night

In this article, Barsky illustrated the potentially dangerous problems that could arise when an agency lacks clear guidelines of communication between clients and employees. In his example, although "Jace" was conflicted with sharing his personal cell number with clients, he did not share his concerns with supervisors because his coworkers did not seem to have a problem with the agency procedure. Unfortunately, "Jace", was compelled to make a critical decision when he received an alleged suicidal call from an alleged client on his cell phone. Barsky's example opened my eyes as I was surprised to learn that there may be agencies that require or encourage employees to use their personal cell phones as a means of communication with agency clients. Albeit naive, I assumed the confidentiality of both client and employee personal information would be of primary concern for all involved. Barsky enlightened me on the importance of thoroughly understanding the communication guidelines of potential employers and ensuring clients are equally aware of the associated parameters concerning all means of communication. As the line between personal and public information narrows with technology advancements and social media, It would have been helpful for Barsky to address issues effecting client/social worker boundaries. Finally, although it was interesting to see how professors in a university setting could control the usage of cell phone information between professor and student, the analogy fell short of the potentially dangerous situations associated with social worker/client communications.

Linda more than 5 years ago

Case evidence

Social workers should also be advised that cell phones, Ipads, laptops, etc can be confiscated as evidence in a court case. For example, messages received by a social worker discussing the client's recent drug use can become evidence in a custody case.

Kimberly more than 6 years ago


I totally agree that it would be inappropriate to ask students to use their person cellphones. I think that the agency or school should provide those if required (especially for personal boundaries - which of course they are hopefully teaching students to maintain). But I thought it was interesting that there was no discussion around the ethics contained around receiving a late night sms. I suppose that could be an entire debate in it's own. But how to social workers that are doing outreach work actual define their hours when their mobiles are the primary means of contact for people within their communities. When (within community organizations especially) do we appropriately say that our jobs are finished for the day given the need for more flexible non-9-to-5 shifts. I think this raises huge issues and being able to have a mandated phone from the organization or school is essential to be able to define those lines and boundaries too I reckon.

Shane more than 8 years ago


I sense that this is an ethical issue that needs to be addressed more. At what point do social workers do not allow themselves available, if in that moment they are able? Food for thought... focus on licensed clinical social workers.

Jenni more than 4 years ago

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
You have subscribed successfully. Thank you!

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated.

Want to reach social workers & social work students?

Contact Linda Grobman about advertising and marketing opportunities.