Sunday, November 1, 2015

Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities to the Broader Society

On the exam and in social work practice, you're likely to be faced with questions about the boundaries of your social work role. What's your job and what's not? Here's an easy way to think about these questions: Prescribing medicine and other doctor-y stuff--not your job. Advocating for clients at all levels, micro to macro--your job. Here's where the macro part of the social work role is spelled out in the NASW Code of Ethics:

6.01 Social Welfare
Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.
6.02 Public Participation
Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.
6.03 Public Emergencies
Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the greatest extent possible.
6.04 Social and Political Action
(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice. [This section continues on A-D]

If a social worker sees a client encountering an injustice due to agency policy, what should the social worker do? Act. If the injustice is due to local ordinances? Advocate. To structural problems in the larger society? Work to effect change. If you're taking the MFT exam, the answers are different. But this is social work. This is the social work exam. Know your role. Get active, get licensed! Good luck!

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