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Article

Bioethics  

Larry W. Foster

Bioethics and biomedical ethics are defined. Common bioethical concepts, exemplary moral values, fundamental ethical principles, general ethical theories, and approaches to moral reasoning are reviewed. The scope of topics and issues, the nature of practice situations in bioethics, and social work roles on organizational bodies that monitor and respond to bioethical issues are summarized, as are trends in bioethics. Practice contexts, from beginning to end of life, are highlighted with biopsychosocial facts, ethical questions and issues, and implications for social work—a profession uniquely positioned in giving bioethics a social context.

Article

Codes of Ethics  

Elaine Congress

Social work values and ethics provide the foundation for social work practice around the world. Almost all countries where social work is a recognized profession have a Code of Ethics. Although there are many similarities among Codes of Ethics in different countries, cultural and societal differences have influenced their content and focus. The extent to which Codes of Ethics have a direct effect on social work practice has been debated. While Codes of Ethics reflect societal and national differences, what is universal and fundamental to social work practice from a human rights perspective should prevail.

Article

Intervention Research  

Haluk Soydan

This entry regards intervention research as an essential part of social work as a profession and research discipline. A brief history of intervention research reveals that use of intervention research for the betterment of human conditions is contemporary with the genesis of modern social science. Advances in intervention research are attributed to the comprehensive social programs launched during the 1960s in the United States. A contemporary and generic model of intervention research is described. It is argued that it is ethical to use intervention research and unethical not to use it. Assessment of some of the recent advances in policy making and science gives an optimistic picture of the future of intervention research.

Article

Impaired Social Workers/Professionals  

Frederic G. Reamer

The possibility of practitioner impairment exists in every profession. Stress related to employment, illness or death of family members, marital or relationship problems, financial problems, midlife crises, personal physical or mental illness, legal problems, substance abuse, and professional education can lead to impairment. This article provides an overview of the nature and extent of impairment in social work, practitioners’ coping strategies, responses to impairment, and rehabilitation options and protocols. Particular attention is paid to the problem of sexual misconduct in social workers’ relationships with clients. The author reviews relevant ethical standards and presents a model assessment and action plan for social workers who encounter an impaired colleague.

Article

Social Work Malpractice, Liability, and Risk Management  

Frederic G. Reamer

Social workers have become increasingly aware of malpractice and liability risks. Disgruntled clients, former clients, and others may file formal ethics complaints and lawsuits against practitioners. Complaints often allege that social workers departed from widely embraced ethical and social work practice standards. This article provides an overview of the concept of risk management and common risks in social work practice pertaining to clients’ rights, confidentiality and privacy, informed consent, conflicts of interest, boundaries and dual relationships, digital and electronic technology, documentation, and termination of services, among others. The author describes procedures used to process ethics complaints, licensing-board complaints, and lawsuits. In addition, the author outlines practical strategies, including an ethics audit, designed to protect clients, third parties, and social workers.

Article

Professional Liability and Malpractice  

Yvonne Chase

Malpractice claims against social workers are a reality. Although social workers are trained as students in the importance of adhering to the NASW Code of Ethics, the results of ethics and other practice violations are increasing liability and risk. Social workers have a strong commitment to clients, to communities, and to social justice, but attention to ways of reducing risk, including malpractice insurance and ethics audits, is critical to reducing the numbers of malpractice and ethics complaints against social workers and, ultimately, to enhancing the profession.

Article

Ethics and Values  

Frederic G. Reamer

Social workers’ understanding of professional values and ethics has matured considerably. During the earliest years of the profession’s history, social workers’ attention was focused primarily on cultivating a set of values upon which the mission of the profession could be based. More recently, social workers have developed comprehensive ethical standards to guide practitioners and decision-making frameworks that are useful when practitioners face difficult ethical dilemmas. Today’s social workers also have a better understanding of the relationship between their ethical decisions and potential malpractice risks.

Article

Human Needs: Religion and Spirituality  

Edward R. Canda

This entry provides a brief introduction to social work's approach to spirituality and religion, focusing on definitions, history, current practices, ethical and human-diversity issues, relevance to clients, practice applications, best-practices research, and controversies. Emphasis is given to a spiritually sensitive and culturally competent approach to social work that honors diverse religious and nonreligious spiritual perspectives of clients and their communities. Although American social work is the focus, some international developments are included. References and websites are listed to facilitate identification of resources for addressing spiritual diversity in practice.

Article

Lüttichau, Manon  

Helle Strauss

Manon Lüttichau (1900–1995), who was born a privileged noblewoman, untraditionally sought education and personal independence. She served as a charity worker for 10 years, then became the first paid social helper in Denmark. She was a pioneer for social workers as important professionals in hospital departments. She became inspired by many tours in Europe and the United States for studies of social work and social work education. ML was initiator of the establishment of the first social school. This happened at a time when economic crises and several social reforms increased the need for a professional social work profession. A group of enthusiastic academics and social workers established a volunteer working committee for foundation of a social school . Here it was discussed whether the school should be independence of religion. The result was an independent curriculum, a schedule, a small faculty, creation of teaching material and organisation of administration and practice placement. Development of social work ethics, holistic perspective, and casework were among the subjects in the professional education. ML became later the initiator of the Association for Educated Social Workers in Denmark and she was also serving in Burma for the UN as a social welfare advisor. Similarities and differences between the first education, ML’s viewpoints and modern social work education are identified. ML was living independent of class traditions and other people’s presumptions, but not a declared feminist.

Article

Genetics  

Joan O. Weiss

The recent explosion of genetic and genomic knowledge that was a product of the Human Genome Project has extraordinary implications for social workers and their client population. Genetics and genomics are interdisciplinary fields. Their scope reaches beyond the doctor’s office and beyond medical professionals. Social workers must recognize how vital their role is in helping clients come to terms with being at risk for a genetic condition or facing the uncertainty of a genetic diagnosis in the family. Understanding the psychosocial and ethical implications of genetic testing is important for all social workers, no matter where they are practicing. Social workers need to know the basics of genetics and genomics and take an active part in protecting their clients from genetic discrimination.

Article

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)  

Nigel Hall

The International Federation of Social Workers is an international organization representing the interests of social workers around the world. This organization works in cooperation with global regional social work bodies, national organizations, and other associations to organize international events, publish policy statements, encourage cooperative initiatives, and link to other international bodies. It is active in human rights and social development and in the promotion of best practices and high professional social work standards.

Article

Digital Technology in Social Work  

Frederic G. Reamer

Digital, online, and other electronic technology has transformed the nature of social work practice and education. Contemporary social workers can provide services to clients through online counseling, telephone counseling, video counseling, cybertherapy (avatar therapy), self-guided web-based interventions, electronic social networks, e-mail, and text messages. In addition, increasing numbers of social work education programs are using distance education technology to teach their students. Social work administrators store electronic records in the “cloud” and community organizers use online social networking sites to facilitate their work. The introduction of diverse digital, online, and other forms of electronic social services has created a wide range of complex ethical and related risk management issues. This article provides an overview of current technology used in social work, identifies compelling ethical issues, and explores risk management issues. The author identifies relevant standards from the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics; model regulatory standards adopted by the Association of Social Work Boards; and practice standards adopted jointly by the National Association of Social Workers, Association of Social Work Boards, Council on Social Work Education, and Clinical Social Work Association

Article

Mindfulness-Based Therapy  

Edward R. Canda and Sherry Warren

This entry provides an introduction to mindfulness as a therapeutic practice applied within social work, including in mental health and health settings. It describes and critiques mindfulness-based practices regarding definitions, history, current practices, best practices research, and ethical issues related to using evidence-based practices, acquiring competence, addressing social justice, and respecting diversity.

Article

Moral Injury in the Military  

Lataya Hawkins

Moral injury has become a common term used to describe the complex symptoms experienced when there is a violation of one’s moral code. While the term is new, the concept of moral injury has been prevalent in human society since ancient times and conceivably since the beginning of humankind. It can be traced back to the Greco-Roman era when warriors shared intimate stories of their moral challenges on the battlefield. Moral injury has been extensively researched within the military population to describe the soul wound some service members carry because of war. It should not be confused with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the well-known mental health condition associated with veterans, however they can comorbidly exist with overlapping symptoms which therefore often makes it difficult to distinguish. What makes moral injury different from PTSD is that in many occurrences, it is the individual who commits a moral offense (versus mortal danger to self or others), and consequently must deal with aftermath of failing to be the moral (good) person they believed they were. Moral injury is important to understand conceptually and recognize clinically as it has been found to be closely associated with increased risk of suicide in service members and veterans.

Article

The NASW Code of Ethics  

Frederic G. Reamer

Ethical standards in social work have matured significantly since the profession’s formal inauguration in the late 19th century. As in most professions, social work’s principal code of ethics has evolved from a brief, broadly worded document to a detailed, comprehensive guide to ethical practice. This article summarizes the diverse purposes and functions of professional codes of ethics and the historical trends and changes in social work’s codes of ethics. The key components of the NASW Code of Ethics—the code’s preamble, broad ethical principles, and more specific ethical standards—are described.

Article

Rights-Based Framework and Social Work  

David Androff

The past few years have seen a surge in efforts to incorporate rights-based approaches in social work practice. This rise has been spearheaded by a growing awareness that human rights can reduce or eradicate poverty and injustice while advancing human dignity and social welfare. Professional Codes of Ethics around the world maintain social workers’ responsibilities to uphold human rights. However, few rights-based approaches to social work practice have been developed. This encyclopedia entry introduces the concept of rights-based approaches, presents new models of rights-based social work, reviews the rights-based principles for social work practice of human dignity, nondiscrimination, participation, transparency, and accountability, and discusses how this framework can be applied to various practice settings and populations.

Article

Alexander, Chauncey A.  

Paul A. Abels

Chauncey A. Alexander (1916–2005) was Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers from 1967 to 1982 and founder and president of the First Amendment Foundation. He was instrumental in developing an International Code of Ethics for social workers.

Article

Community-Based Participatory Research  

Alma M. Ouanesisouk Trinidad

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) embraces a collaborative partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, social workers, other practitioners, and researchers in the research process. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change. It is community based in the sense that community members become part of the research team and researchers become engaged in the activities of the community. Community–researcher partnerships allow for a blending and aligning of values and expertise, promoting co-learning and capacity-building among all partners, and integrating and achieving a balance between research and action for the mutual benefit of all partners. Various terms have been used to describe this research, including participatory action research, action research, community-based research, collaborative action research, anti-oppressive research, and feminist research.

Article

Levy, Charles Samuel  

Sheldon R. Gelman

Charles Samuel Levy (1919–2006), professor, ethicist, Jewish communal professional, worked at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University in New York, from 1956 to his retirement in 1982. His numerous publications have influenced today's leading social work ethicists.

Article

Ethics for Macro Social Work  

Cecilia Aguayo and Magdalena Calderón-Orellana

The concept of ethics in social work is the practical knowledge based on professional experience. To understand ethics in macro social work, first, ethics and morals will be described broadly as well their relevance to social work identity. Then, codes of ethics, standards, and ethics committees are presented as components of integrity systems. In the same way, professional principles and values together with their relation to macro–social work definitions are reviewed. These account for procedures that display autonomy, reciprocity, reflexivity, and conflict acceptance to arrive at prudent and fair decisions. As an applied ethics, social work ethics is concerned with the systematic analysis of ethical issues in practical contexts. In this sense, the work is focused on decision-making in macro social work, bringing out the challenges that professionals face and how they address these challenges. This analysis will be done considering the moral dilemmas that might arise for social workers in practice with/in communities, organizations, and the public policy arena. Finally, to argue decisions and actions in professional practice, some philosophical approaches are presented, which are selected according to their relevance to macro social work. Summarizing, communicative ethics, the ethics of conflict, the ethics of recognition and moral offense, and intercultural ethics are reviewed in order to avoid all kinds of fundamentalism and relativity in professional action.