Ethics Alive! Ethical Concerns in Social Work Field Supervision

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ethical dilemma v.s. ethical decision

what is difference

michael j scott more than 7 years ago

This article may help

We published an article titled, "What Is an Ethical Dilemma?" It may help in your search for the difference between an ethical dilemma and an ethical decision. You can read the article at: more than 7 years ago

dilemma vs. decision

The short answer to your question is that an ethical dilemma is a situation in which a practitioner needs to make a choice between two or more options, and regardless of which option is chosen, there is a risk of violating an ethical standard, moral principle, law, or agency policy. In other words, there is no perfect solution. In some situations, a person has an ethical choice to make, but there are clear distinctions between what is ethically justifiable and what is not. If a social worker is in a situation of having to choose between two standards in the NASW Code of Ethics (e.g., client self-determination and social justice), this is an example of an ethical dilemma. If a social worker is in a situation where it is possible to steal money from a client, then making a decision about stealing is not an ethical dilemma. Still, it is a choice or decision the worker can make.

Allan Barsky more than 7 years ago

Ethics violated

I am at an agency that operates in a fashion that to me, breaches ethics, if not the legal system, on a number of counts. I can’t tell them that, obviously, and have no plans to. I’ve been keeping my head down and doing what they say. We work with a population of people who have made some decisions that didn’t work out well for them, and they got in trouble with the law. The agency owner is fond of referring to them as “just criminals.” I see Them as people who made some decisions that didn’t work well for them, but they still have their humanity. An unpaid intern is expected to give the same services as a social worker with a license and 10 years experience. And the agency owner bills medicaid, Drug Court, child services, the Fed, etc the same full rate as if those services have been rendered By a qualified SW. (The internships are unpaid, which I accept as part of the gig.) Our clients are in no position to dissent - they are 100% unempowered to speak up and request a better level of service. They are in legal trouble. As a grad student, I have had pounded into my head that ethics are paramount. As they should be. Who gets to decide what is ethical and unethical? Do my sense of ethics count? And if so, to whom do they count? When do I get to say that I will not indulge in a practice that makes me feel as if I need to take a shower after exiting my practicum on a daily basis?

Shelli more than 5 years ago

Ethics count now

Shelli, your sense of ethics does count, and it counts now. If you are a student in a field placement, your top priority is getting an appropriate social work education. If you are in a placement where you feel you are being asked to violate the NASW Code of Ethics and/or your state's social work code of ethics and laws, I would talk to your field supervisor and your school's field liaison, to address concerns, ask/answer questions, and take appropriate steps to ensure that you are getting a field placement experience that is teaching you to be a competent and ethical social worker. In terms of your other questions, individual social workers are accountable to the NASW and/or the state licensing board, depending on whether the person is licensed, an NASW member, etc. If an agency has unethical practices, they can be reported to the body that licenses the agency. more than 5 years ago

Field Placement

I did my field placement at an out-patient substance abuse agency. The first words out of my agency supervisor's mouth were; " I don't think you will make it in this field because you have n substance abuse background." from that point on she did her level best to manufacture excuses to get me re assigned to a different agency. To make matters worse my school appointed field adviser left in the middle of the semester without a word and I had to advocate for myself, seeking advice from any available instructor. It is sad that schools often place students in agencies based only on the school's relationship with that agency and very little regard for the student's welfare.

Chatiwa Manyepedza-Cotter more than 8 years ago

Field Placement

I am a senior social work student and I have already completed my field internship.It was a great opportunity because I am an older student and I had previously worked as a case manager in a very large urban social services agency.The diffrence that I found was the clinical aspects and realizing that we all share a reason for this passion to help and assist a person for a desired change.I also found that a good field supoervisor will embrace the student no matter what the age or experience.I am so glad that I can infuse both experience and the solid clinical aspects of being professional social worker.I am glad to be me!!!!!!!!

Janice Jones-Johnson more than 9 years ago

Mature students

I am a mature student myself and my field placement begins in 2014. It is good to hear other mature students talking about their experiences. I am sure that everyday will be different and possibly there will be those days that I dont feel as positive as I do now but it is true that we all share the desire for change and I am so looking forward to my placement.

Lesley Ann Porter more than 9 years ago

Feild Placement

Thank you for this article. It really gave me insight on entering my field placement. I don't know much of what to expect. I have worked in mental health for a year and a half, yet I will be placed in a childrens hospital in the oncology department. It is an entirely different ball game. This article really helped prepare my mind in how things could unfold. I have met my field supervisor and he seems like a great person. I hope we work we togerther

Diasha more than 9 years ago

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