The following broad ethical principles are based on social work's
core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the
person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.
Developed by the National Association of Social Work (NASW), these
principles set forth ideals to which all social workers should aspire.
Ethical Principle: Social workers' primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.
workers elevate service to others above self-interest. Social workers
draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and
to address social problems. Social workers are encouraged to volunteer
some portion of their professional skills with no expectation of
significant financial return (pro bono service).
Value: Social Justice
Ethical Principle: Social workers challenge social injustice.
workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of
vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social
workers' social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of
poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social
injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and
knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social
workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and
resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in
decision-making for all people.
Value: Dignity and Worth of the Person
Ethical Principle: Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful
of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social
workers promote clients' socially responsible self-determination.
Social workers seek to enhance clients' capacity and opportunity to
change and to address their own needs. Social workers are cognizant of
their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. They
seek to resolve conflicts between clients' interests and the broader
society's interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with
the values, ethical principles, and ethical standards of the profession.
Value: Importance of Human Relationships
Ethical Principle: Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships.
workers understand that relationships between and among people are an
important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners
in the helping process. Social workers seek to strengthen relationships
among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain, and
enhance the well-being of individuals, families, social groups,
organizations, and communities.
Ethical Principle: Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner.
workers are continually aware of the profession's mission, values,
ethical principles, and ethical standards, and practice in a manner
consistent with them. Social workers act honestly and responsibly, and
promote ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which
they are affiliated.
Principle: Social workers practice within their areas of competence and
develop and enhance their professional expertise.
workers continually strive to increase their professional knowledge and
skills and to apply them in practice. Social workers should aspire to
contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.
To view the NASW Code of Ethics in its entirety, including the ethical standards, go to https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English.aspx.