Monday, June 6, 2011

Legal and Ethical Issues

Upon graduation and obtaining a degree in social work there is a licensure exam that must be taken in order to be considered a social worker. This exam includes questions on legal and ethical issues in the social work practice. As a social worker we must make ethical decisions, and in doing so we must use the National Association of Social Work (NASW) code of ethics as a guide for professional conduct and decision making.
When taking the licensure exam there is no need to memorize the NASW code of ethics. According to the podcast on “Legal and Ethical Issues” as a graduate of an accredited university we should have the knowledge on the principles of the codes based on the NASW. Your answer to the licensure questions should be based on your professional standards and the nationwide laws and regulations. We should always keep in mind not to confuse our particular agencies policies and rules and regulations with those in that are applied to social work nationwide.
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Even though the NASW code of ethics should be the primary resource, it does not give the worker an explicit list of rules of conduct that defines precisely how you should respond in every situation. The NASW code of ethics contains general information that we use to apply personal decisions based on your understanding and knowledge. In some situations ethical decision making will require the worker to consider laws governing the social work practice. The worker should keep in mind that laws only apply most laws are specific to the state you practice in. Values can sometime interfere with decision making. Ethical principles are the standard for a standard are meant to serve as a guide to what is right and wrong. Values are defined as abstract beliefs related to one person or group considers desirable. Social work vaules are incorporated in the code of ethics.

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When working with a client the social worker must maintain confidentiality. In order to do so the worker must first obtain valid formal consent from the client. If the worker has a client that has been mandated by the courts, formal consent is still necessary. The worker must make sure to meet four characteristics when acquiring a valid consent. The client must first have the capability to consent to therapy. The worker must also provide the client with all significant information that might affect his decision to enter treatment, which includes nature and purpose of your services as it relates to the client. Next, the client must give his consent freely and without influence. Finally, the consent form must be appropriately documented, meaning, that you should obtain formal signature on a written consent form. The client must be able to understand the information the worker gives to him and he services that will be provided, which can be difficult when working with minors, mentally retarded or mentally disabled clients.
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While taking the social work exam, it will include question regarding the legal and ethical issues that will affect the social work practice. If the worker has a problem with a client they should refer back to the code of ethics. By selecting the right answer to your knowledge it should be based on your professional standard of law regulation that applies nationwide. Different principles and values help underlie the problem as well as the code of ethics. Even though you may already work at an agency answering under different circumstances you will have to select the answer of polices, rules and regulations that do not pertain to you or where you work.
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According to the ethical standard the worker can disclose confidential information without the client consent under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include situations that may prevent serious harm to the client or another identifiable person. The worker may also disclose information when the law requires information. The worker can violate confidentiality if they believe the client or another person to be in danger. Finally the work is considered a reasonable suspect when they know when child abuse has occurred. The code of ethics make it clear that the worker cannot discuss specific information about a client’s case with other people without the clients consent, unless there are compelling professional reasoning for breaking the clients confidentiality.
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The Tara Soft, which took place at a university in California, established a court’s decision for social workers and other professions “the duty to warn.” The passing of this act protects the intended victim if threats are made to the worker by the client. In an interview with a client, the client makes a threat against an identified victim, it is the duty of the worker to first inform the proper authority as well as notify the intended victim.
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When working with clients confidentially is an important value that social worker must keep in mind. In receiving the confidentiality agreement form the worker, by law, must obey all laws or face penalties which can result in laws suit, or even the loss of their social work license. I f the worker lives in a small community the chances that the worker may run into a client in public greatly increases. If this were to occur it is recommend that the working acts accordingly not do anything that may jeopardize the client’s confidentiality.
What is most interesting about this podcast?
The most interesting portion of this podcast, in my opinion discussed the Tara Soft Act. I have heard of the Tara soft act prior to this podcast, but after listening, it helps put the duty to warn in better perspective. Furthermore my second area of concentration that I would be interested in would be policy.
What can you share with other students about this podcast?
I would share with other student from this podcast would be the importance of policy.
We should always keep in mind polices may change over time therefore it is necessary to stay current. Also policy can vary from state to state as well as agency to agency, reviewing the policy in your area is essential to avoid malpractice. In conclusion all social workers should have a copy of the NASW code of ethics available for quick reference.

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