On behalf of the National Association of Social Workers – Michigan Chapter Ethics Committee, it is our pleasure to welcome you to a career that promises the opportunity to empower others, change your community, and work to ensure a world free of oppression and injustices. "To commence" means "to enter upon: begin" (Merriman-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commence) . While you are celebrating your accomplishments, thinking that you have just ended a long journey of higher education, we charge you with the expectation to "enter upon or begin" a practice consistent with our Social Work Code of Ethics.
The social work profession is unique in many ways; one way is that we are required to perform our role while abiding by our Code of Ethics. Unlike many professions, our profession is grounded in ethical principles derived from our core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, human relations, integrity and competence (NASW, 2008). These values and principles are central to ethical practice. To support your success we offer a few suggestions as you ‘commence’ your professional career.
1. Read your Code of Ethics frequently to ensure consistently ethical practice consistent with our Code. To assume that your personal values and ethics are fully aligned with our professional code is short-sighted and unrealistic.
2. Develop and maintain competence in your field of practice with critical attention to culture and social diversity. The social work profession continues to evolve, becoming more informed by research and more knowledgeable about practicing with cultural humility. The expectation of competence is woven throughout our Code (1.04, 1.05, 2.10, 4.01). Striving for competence can occur through reading the literature, attending conferences and once licensed, attaining continuing education units. Further, consult with your peers, experts, and supervisor(s) to help you increase your competence.
3. Be sensitive to and avoid potential slippery slopes that lead to dual roles. Our Code has many references to dual roles (1.06,1.09, 2.07, 3.01). Avoiding dual roles are critical to client self-determination and avoiding misuse of power in the relationship.
4. When ethical dilemmas or breaches occur (and they will!!) act in a purposeful way to address the dilemma/breech. Ethical decision making processes include a variety of steps. Speak to your supervisor in advance about steps and protocols so that you will feel empowered to arrive at the best decision for your client when an ethical dilemma/breach arises (1.01, 1.02).
5. Challenge activities and policies in your work environment that are not consistent with our code (5.01). Our evolving profession continually creates new challenges and opportunities. Be a leader in ensuring consistent compliance.
6. You must engage in self care! Self care protects against personal impairment in judgment (2.03) and increases the likelihood for the best services to your clients.
Please know that your Michigan Chapter Ethics Committee is here to support you as you strive to maximize ethical practice. We are a resource for you!
Michigan –NASW Office
Ethical consultations are available any time during regular office hours.
Celebrate and enjoy the most rewarding career~Social Work!