Ethics Alive! The 2017 NASW Code of Ethics: What's New?

Comments (10)

Comment Feed


As others have pointed out, the shift in language from "disability" to "ability" is problematic. Please read an open letter I wrote to social work students and professionals wishing to engage in anti-oppressive practice, titled "A Call to Combat Ableism in the Field of Social Work", which speaks to this issue:

Jess more than 2 years ago

Disability is not a deficit

Disability is not a deficit or a problem, and this framing is really dangerous for disabled and non-disabled people alike. As a disabled social worker, I hope that the next edition of the Code embraces using the term 'disability'. Here's a great article related to this:

Andrews, E. E., Forber-Pratt, A. J., Mona, L. R., Lund, E. M., Pilarski, C. R., & Balter, R. (2019). #SaytheWord: A disability culture commentary on the erasure of “disability”. Rehabilitation Psychology. Advance online publication.

Vern Harner more than 3 years ago

"Awareness" step back from "Competence"

How unfortunate that after all the years of struggle our profession decides to take a step back instead of forward with regard to cultural diversity. The rationale provided here does not hold water. That "some people" question whether the term “competence” presupposes that social workers can become competent in someone else’s culture or any other aspect of their social diversity. Who exactly are these people? I submit to them that perhaps what we can't expect is "mastery" but we should not only presuppose but DEMAND "competence." A level of awareness is, frankly, a cop out. Do we not expect social workers to become competent in theories and methods of practice. Oh, no, let's just expect licensed clinical social workers to just be "aware" of these theories and methods.

DrCGP more than 5 years ago

Awareness is not enough

100% agree
Language matters... Diversity demands humility. Mastery not-withstanding but true openness to intersectionality and factors influencing cultural, racial and ethnic norms/interaction. Awareness is an "easy out" if practiced literally. Standards and guidance related to responsiveness must be purposeful and deliberate.

Vannessa Dorantes more than 5 years ago


Your change in language is not approved by the disability community. It is boneheaded to go against what that community has chosen for itself and shows a lack of collaboration, consultation and solidarity on your part.

Tom Wilson more than 5 years ago


Others could say it's also lack of empathy. Recognising a person's strengths or their system around them strengths does not need to happen in the expense of acknowledging (accepting?) an individual's disability or a disability within their social environments. Both are relevant to a social worker's role and important parts of the intervention plan pursued for the individual.

Angelo Koutoumanos more than 5 years ago

Compassion for all through effective communication

Please...let's try to practice thoughtful and respectful communication. Express your concerns without attacking. Assume that the authors had good intentions. This is how we heal the world and ourselves.

Jill more than 5 years ago

Der Jill,

First off - Effective communication - None of that happened within this revision. Thats part of the issue.
Second - Attacking?...I must have missed something - Its called a critical consciousness, Jill. A social concept. Shouldn't a social worker know this?

John Abbate more than 5 years ago

Unnecessarily biting

JA, I agree with Jill, that words such as "boneheaded" lack the civility that the social work profession should exemplify. Though TW's words may be true, they are unnecessarily harsh, and unbecoming of the profession. Even the tone of your response to Jill...aren't we all on the same team here? Surely we can disagree without such biting tones.

Danny Anderson more than 5 years ago


Thank you so much Tom, for raising your voice. I am currently doing research for my MSW on how to improve disability content in S.W education and this point has been raised by social workers with disabilities in my study. If you would like to connect please feel free to email me at

Ellie Gordon more than 5 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.