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Ethical Social Work Practice: Fact or Fiction?. MSSWA Spring Conference March 25, 2013 Kathy Heltzer, MSSW,LICSW. What We Hope You Learn Today. A few frameworks for ethical decision-making Apply these frameworks to real life ethical dilemmas and issues from practice

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Ethical Social Work Practice: Fact or Fiction?


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    1. Ethical Social Work Practice: Fact or Fiction? MSSWA Spring ConferenceMarch 25, 2013 Kathy Heltzer, MSSW,LICSW

    2. What We Hope You Learn Today • A few frameworks for ethical decision-making • Apply these frameworks to real life ethical dilemmas and issues from practice • More about your own professional values and ethics • Self awareness about ethical behavior • Legal obligations • A 2 hour ethics workshop can be informative and fun

    3. “Ethical Dilemma” Definition • “Choice by the social worker between two or more relevant but contradictory ethical directives; when every alternative results in an undesirable outcome for one or more persons”Dolgoff, Lowenberg and Harrington (2009).  Ethical Decisions for Social Work Practice. (8th edition) Belmont, CA:Thomson Higher Education

    4. Identify Ethical Dilemmas • Using the cards provided, write down ONE ethical dilemma/issue you have observed or experienced in your own social work practice • Do not write the outcome, only the problem • Clearly describe what you think the “dilemma” is in the example you are writing about • Turn in your card

    5. Introductions • Find yourself a small group of 3-4 people • If you do not already know each other, introduce yourselves • In terms of ethics, what do you need from this group?

    6. Activity 2 • Working in your small group, make a list of unethical and unprofessional behaviors you have observed that have shocked or horrified you during the past year. Write them on the index card and then turn in the card

    7. Ethical Considerations Specific to work in schools…. • Confidentiality is one of the biggest and most widely recognized issues with children and schools. • Another school-specific issue with ethical implications is the multiple roles of the school social worker. Conflict arises when your multiple roles converge. • Understanding the school culture–and where it intersects with the Code of Ethics principles–is critical in making appropriate, ethical assessments and plans of action.

    8. Three Essential Guidelines • For one, when in doubt, try to remain harmonious with the culture of the school. • Second and more importantly, consult. • Third and most importantly, practice preventative ethics. Taken from: Ethics in Schools: How School Culture Impacts Social Work PracticeSeth Kleinman, MSW, Education Subcommittee, NASW's Ethics Commission, FOCUS Newsletter, September 2001

    9. How Much Do We Know About Social Work Ethics? • Opportunity to use your “clicker”!

    10. What are the 6 core values and corresponding ethical principles of the NASW Code of Ethics? • Service-primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems • Social Justice-Social Workers challenge social injustice • Dignity and Worth of the Person-Social Workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person

    11. Core Values and Principles • Importance of human relationships-social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships • Integrity-Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner • Competence-Social workers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise

    12. Ethical Standards • Ethical Responsibilities to Clients • Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues • Ethical Responsibilities in Practice Settings • Ethical Responsibilities as Professionals • Ethical Responsibilities to the Social Work Profession • Ethical Responsibilities to the Broader Society

    13. GUIDELINES FOR ETHICAL DECISION MAKING • Elaine Congress’ ETHIC Model • Frederic Reamer’s Model • Loewenberg and Dolgoff’s Framework for Ethical Decision Making • Loewenberg and Dolgoff’s Ethical Principles Screen

    14. ETHIC MODEL • Examine relevant personal, societal, agency, client professional values • Think about what ethical standards of your profession apply to the situation, as well as relevant laws, and case decisions • Hypothesize about the consequences to all of the possible solutions you can envision • Identify who will benefit and who will be harmed in view of human services’ traditional commitment to the most vulnerable people in this society • Consult with any supervisors, colleagues and other professionals who could be helpful to you in deciding what to do

    15. Reamer’s Model • ID the issues, including values and duties that conflict • ID who all will likely be affected • Brainstorm all possible courses of action; risks and benefits for all involved • Thoroughly examine all reasons in favor and opposed to each course of action

    16. Reamer…continued • Use ethical theories, principles and guidelines • Use professional codes of ethics and legal principles • Use theory and principles of human and social services • Utilize personal, religious, political and ethnic values, especially those that might conflict with your own

    17. Consult! • Consult with colleagues and appropriate experts such as ethics scholars, lawyers and agency personnel • Make the decision and document the decision-making process • Monitor, evaluate and document the decision

    18. General Decision-Making Model • Identify the problem and the persons,institutions,clients,professionals, support systems, victims and others that are involved in the problem • Determine who should be involved in decision-making • Identify the values held by those identified in step 1, including client and worker 4. Identify the goals and objectives whose attainment you believe may resolve (or reduce) the problem

    19. Loewenberg and Dolgoff’s General Decision Making Model 5. Identify alternative intervention strategies and targets, and assess the effectiveness and efficacy of each alternative in terms of identified goals • Select and implement the most appropriate strategy • Monitor the implementation, paying particular attention to unanticipated consequences; evaluate results and identify additional problems, opportunities and options

    20. . Lowenberg& Dolgoff’s Ethical Rules Screen • Examine the Code of Ethics to determine if any of the Code rules are applicable. These rules take precedence over the worker’s personal value system. If one or more Code rules apply, follow these. If the Code does not address itself to the specific problem, or if several Code rules provide conflicting guidance, use the Ethical Principles Screen. From Loewenberg, F.M. & Dolgoff, R. (2000). Ethical Decisions for Social Work Practice (6th ed.).Itasca, Il.: FE Peacock.

    21. Ethical Rules Screen

    22. Ethical Principles Screen

    23. Another Great Interactive Clicker Opportunity • This is a “self assessment” activity….no really “right” or “wrong” answers..ok, maybe “better” or “worse” options

    24. Is it Ethical? • Using the examples you all provided at the beginning of this session, work in small groups to come up with the best course of action for the problem on your index card • Apply one or more of the frameworks presented to help you decide what to do • Refer to the NASW Code of Ethics

    25. Reporting Back • Each group reads what their ethical issue was • Describe how you decided what to do and what tools you used

    26. Is it Ethical? Part 2 • Some ethical dilemmas are now provided by the Presenter for you to discuss and come to a decision about course of action with your small group • Again, apply one or more of the frameworks presented to help you decide what to do and also consult the NASW Code of Ethics

    27. Surprise! No “reporting back” • Leave you with a song….. • Post-test for those who are required to complete it • Good-bye to the rest of you!