SOCW 6101: Essential Skills for Social Work Practice
Discussion: Resolving Ethical Dilemmas
If there is a right and wrong answer, there is no ethical dilemma. An ethical dilemma occurs when one or more competing ethical principles must be considered and weighed against each other.
Social workers serve individuals, families, and communities who experience complex problems for which there are rarely simple solutions, or right or wrong answers. As such, social workers use the NASW Code of Ethics to identify the various ethical principles and standards that will guide ethical decision making.
In this Discussion, you apply social work ethics as you analyze an ethical dilemma.
Consider the ethical decision-making framework outlined in this week’s resources, including Figure 1.1 on page 439 of Kirst-Ashman and Hull.
Select one of the following options, and then engage in the first few steps of the ethical decision-making process, including consultation with colleagues through your response posts. Take into consideration the framework for making ethical decisions that is presented in this week’s resources, especially Figure 1.1 on page 439 of Kirst-Ashman and Hull’s book.
Choose one of the following courses of action, and then move on to the initial stages of the process of making an ethical decision, which will include consulting with your peers through the response postings you create.
The ways in which social workers can communicate with their clients are continuously expanding in tandem with the development of new technologies. Is it appropriate to check at a client’s actions on social media or conduct a search on the internet to find information about them? Should a social worker make it possible for clients to get in touch with them by email or text message? How does the personal social media presence of a social worker affect the connection between the social worker and the client?
As technology advances, so do the ways that social workers can connect with clients. Is it acceptable to look at a client’s activities on social media or seek information through an internet search? Should a social worker allow clients to contact them by text or e-mail? How does a social worker’s personal social media presence influence the worker/client relationship?
Consider the presence of dual relationships in social work practice. What are examples of nonharmful and harmful dual relationships between clients and workers? How do social workers determine if dual relationships are harmful to a client?
Your Instructor will post a social work ethical dilemma related to a current event.
By Day 3
Post a response to the following:
Describe a specific ethical dilemma based on one of the options above.
Describe the ethical issues in the option chosen.
Identify specific values or ethical standards that apply.
Identify who is likely to be affected by the ethical dilemma.
Describe potential courses of action.
Examine reasons in favor of or opposed to the course of action.
Support your post with examples from the course text and any other resources used to respond to this Discussion. Demonstrate that you have completed the required readings, understand the material, and are able to apply the concepts. Include a full reference of resources at the bottom of the post.
Social Media and Ethical Considerations
Walden’s MSW Social Media Policy
A student’s presence on and use of social media reflects on the MSW program and the social
work profession; therefore, behavior on social media will be held to the same professional
standards and student code of conduct expectations. Social Work professionals, including
students, are expected to adhere to the NASW Code of Ethics related to virtual communications.
Students should use social work values and principles, as well as specific agency policy, to guide
their social media interactions.
Students need to consider the ethical consequences of their own social media use, as well as use
of social media in practice. Be aware of and follow agency policies regarding the use of social
media. Before using social media communication tools on behalf of a field agency, students
must seek agency approval of any messages or posts.
Walden MSW students are expected to adhere to the ethical standards outlined in the NASW
Code of Ethics. Common ethical issues that social workers need to understand and manage when
utilizing social media include, but are not limited to, privacy and confidentiality (Section 1.07),
conflicts of interest and dual relationships (Section 1.06), and informed consent (Section 1.03).
There is significant risk of unintentionally sharing protected information when using social
media. Be cautious when posting information about an agency. Never post confidential or
private information about clients or colleagues, even using pseudonyms.
Students need to remain aware of professional boundaries even when participating in social
media in their personal time. Managing “friend” requests and maintaining privacy settings is
critical regardless of whether a student uses social media for personal or professional reasons.
According to the Code of Ethics, “social workers should not engage in dual or multiple
relationships…in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client…and social
workers…are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries”
(1.06c). The Code of Ethics further clarifies use of technology as related to 1.06 Conflicts of
(e) Social workers should avoid communication with clients using technology (such as
social networking sites, online chat, e-mail, text messages, telephone, and video) for
personal or non-work-related purposes.
(f) Social workers should be aware that posting personal information on professional
Web sites or other media might cause boundary confusion, inappropriate dual
relationships, or harm to clients.
(g) Social workers should be aware that personal affiliations may increase the likelihood
that clients may discover the social worker’s presence on Web sites, social media, and
other forms of technology. Social workers should be aware that involvement in electronic
communication with groups based on race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender
identity or expression, mental or physical ability, religion, immigration status, and other
personal affiliations may affect their ability to work effectively with particular clients.
(h) Social workers should avoid accepting requests from or engaging in personal
relationships with clients on social networking sites or other electronic media to prevent
boundary confusion, inappropriate dual relationships, or harm to clients.
The NASW Code of Ethics goes on to state, “Social workers should respect clients’ right to
privacy. Social workers should not solicit private information from clients unless it is essential
to providing services” (1.07a). Social work students should consider the ethics of obtaining
information about a client through social media means. According to the NASW Code of Ethics,
“Social workers should obtain client consent before conducting an electronic search on the client.
Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting the client or other people
from serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm, or for other compelling professional reasons”
Students are encouraged to further review the NASW, ASWB, CSWE, and CSWA Standards for
Technology in Social Work Practice