The Principles Behind Social Work

Beyond Service: The Professional Responsibilities of a Social Worker

We recognize the concepts of service, respect and dignity as being integral to the practice of social work, along with the greater overarching vision of social justice for all persons. These principles at their most basic are the tenets of social work as we know it today, and what you can expect to learn when earning your Master of Social Work Online.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has a strict code of ethics that defines a set of values, principles, and standards to guide professionals in the delivery of services that address the complexities of the human experience. The NASW puts forth six key principles that MSW students should identify as being their ethical responsibilities within the following contexts:

  1. Clients

  2. It is expected that all social workers will put their clients’ interests first and maintain confidentiality concerning the privacy of all conversations and interactions. Social workers are also tasked with helping their clients’ work toward the ability to make sound judgments and set positive goals.

  3. Colleagues

  4. The responsibilities of a social worker in a collegial relationship are based on the professional courtesies of respect and fairness. There is also a mandate for social workers to guard against any unethical or incompetent behaviors on the behalf of their colleagues.

  5. Practice Settings

  6. Each practice setting is unique but the principles of responsible practice apply across the board when it comes to the effective supervision and education of others, as well as the promise to conduct the activities that fall under the domain of the social worker role.

  7. Professionals

  8. Social workers are expected to: maintain their competencies through continued education and research; avoid conflicts of interest; put private and personal business aside; and otherwise maintain the highest degree of propriety.

  9. Social Work Profession

  10. The choice to pursue a career in social work comes with the responsibility of championing the profession, providing community service related to social work, and developing the body of knowledge of the profession.

  11. Broader Society

  12. Social workers have a responsibility to help improve the general welfare of all persons, shape political policy, and lend support in public emergency situations including accidents, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes.

Are you ready to take on these responsibilities? Let us help you learn more about a Masters in Social Work Online from the University of New England.


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