National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics

Ethics form an indispensable part of social work, as this field suggests direct involvement with people and their sensitive issues. While each professional is expected to seek a high level of discretion, a set of specific guidelines can be a helpful instrument in attaining this goal. The National Association of Social Workers proposes a comprehensive Code of Ethics, which accumulates renowned professionals’ insights. It serves as a valuable reference point for all social workers, both aspiring and experienced. The Code of Ethics introduces specific values upon which the main principles of social work are built. Additionally, it sets strict standards to which all professionals must adhere to fulfill their noble purpose. This paper aims to examine the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, highlighting the most interesting standards.

The current version of the guidelines has existed long enough to be tested for validity and appropriateness within the professional community. According to the National Association of Social Workers (2017), the present Code of Ethics was approved by the organization’s 1996 assembly. Besides, following a decade of practical experience, it was revised in 2007. As suggested by the organization’s vision, the NASW (2017) Code is universal for all people engaged in social work regardless of their specialization. Its primary mission is to identify and promote the core values upon which the entire field functions. For example, the Code dictates that social work is, most of all, a service, which is to be provided in a fair, competent manner with respect to other people and their views (NASW, 2017). However, such generalized value paradigms are complemented by specific guidelines, which aim at helping social workers resolve potential ethical dilemmas.

All of the presented standards appear logical and justified in the discussed context. For example, the first one underlines the crucial role of commitment to clients and their well-being, setting the direction for the work’s entire nature (NASW, 2017). Similar to all health-related activities, social work remains based on the principle of informed consent. Despite their professional expertise, workers cannot place themselves above clients, withholding information or presenting it insufficiently. Per the presently used ethical standards, clients remain active participants of the process, and their voices are to be heard at all times. The standard of self-determination promotes their rights to pursue self-identification, prompting that social work should remain within the patient-centered model framework (NASW, 2017). Interestingly, the Code of Ethics outlines specific situations in which social workers can legally limit a client’s rights in this regard. Indeed, while self-determination is crucial, it cannot be detrimental to one’s well-being, and it is one of a social worker’s competencies to evaluate such cases correctly.

Overall, the NASW Code of Ethics remains an instrument of paramount importance for all social workers. It contains two major parts, which are logically connected on a profound level. One section lists the general values, which should be the driving force of any social work. Simultaneously, the primary segment of the Code envelops these principles in specific guidelines. The document covers all areas of social workers’ activities, comprising relations with clients and colleagues. Following the Code of Ethics, all professionals can ensure that their work corresponds to the overarching principles of the sphere and ensure proper, client-centered practice across their careers.


National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2017). Code of Ethics: English. National Association of Social Workers. Web.

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