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.

To prepare: Consider the ethical decision-making framework outlined in this week’s resources by Reamer (2002). Select one of the following options and engage in the first few steps of the ethical decision-making process, including consultation with colleagues through your response posts.

Option 1

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?

Option 2

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?

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