Freedom To Discriminate and the Professional Obligation of Social Workers

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Unacknowledged worldview

If you’ve read this far, please go back and count the number of “shoulds” Mr. Barsky uses. He is fine to push his unacknowledged worldview on to others assuming they share the same understanding and definition of “client well-being”, “discrimination”, etc., that he himself holds but chooses not to discuss. The reality is that NASW has monopolized licensing power by demanding that state licensing boards hold licensees to the ethical requirements of the NASW code of ethics regardless of whether the licensees are NASW members or not. This is nothing but a power play.

Ryan S more than 1 year ago


I understand your statement about the NASW. You disagree that the ethics of a voluntary professional association should dictate state licensing requirements. However, would you mind clarifying what you mean by Dr. Barsky's "understanding and definition of 'client well-being', 'discrimination', etc?" It seems to me that the only definition of client well-being that exists is that of the client themselves. Do you believe that as social worker's we have a duty to support client self-determination and self-actualization?

Matt Patterson, MSW Candidate more than 1 year ago

Examples of discrimination

I appreciate this thoughtful and well-written article but I must add some of my thoughts. In looking over the examples of discrimination I see something that I don't understand. In the first example of a school social worker and a transgender student, abuse is always wrong and must always be addressed. I am a licensed MSW in Texas- and a Christian who holds conservative values- but I would never allow the issue of transgenderism to color the central issue at hand, which is abuse. This student is being abused because her mother disagrees with her. Again the focus should not necessarily be on the transgenderism, but on the fact that the mother apparently cannot handle any opinions other than her own and chooses violence and control to handle things that upset and frighten her. In serving this student, the subject of transgenderism should only take the stage according to what the student needs and desires to discuss. IF the student wanted help to strengthen her identity, that might be different. Then the question arises: What choices would the school social worker have at that point? If this was adverse to her beliefs? The second example of a psychiatric social worker telling a gay patient with depression that God is punishing him just stuns me. That is something difficult to fathom. That is a counter-transference of the social worker's personal beliefs and an example of offering explanations and solutions that don't arise from the client. The real incompetency here is not the discrimination itself, but the social worker's inability to let the client lead the process and find their own answers from within. This is a reflection of the social worker's own disordered belief system being manipulated onto the client and evidence that he/she is not acquainted with certain truths about the character and nature of God. In short, these two examples are both discrimination and -in my opinion, more importantly- very poor social work. Perhaps we need to look at the underlying issues more carefully instead of focusing on the obvious cultural disagreements that we all have?

Serena Randol more than 1 year ago

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