Ethical issues as a social worker
The ethical dilemma in the case encompasses the situation facing the social worker where he has to make a choice on what would resolve the client’s problem. The youth worker is confronted with a dilemma on whether she should let Jan commit suicide or reveal to someone else the secret. Despite the fact that the youth worker upholds confidentiality, she encounters a dilemma whether or not she should let Jan commit suicide without telling other people the problem that Jan has. The ethical dilemma can be said to involve a professional relationship between the youth worker and her client. The ethical responsibility of commitment to the client’s well being comes into play (AASW 2010, p 13).
Social workers have the responsibility to promote the client’s well being, as well as the interests of the client. However, the responsibility of the social worker to the law and the society supersedes the loyalty that the social worker owes to clients (AASW 2010, p. 16). Therefore, the youth worker is torn in between reporting the matter to authorities in order to prevent the client from committing suicide or allow the client to commit suicide. The client’s right to self determination also touches on the ethical dilemma in the case. Although the youth worker should enhance the client’s interests and goals, she should also prevent the act of suicide because it causes serious harm to the client.
If I were the one faced with such a situation, I would have notified the relevant authorities since the social work code of conduct calls for such an action when a client threatens to harm themselves. My decision would be grounded in the belief that, although it is right to uphold the confidentiality in a professional relationship, it is illegal to let someone commit suicide with the knowledge that they wanted to do so, especially because it is a minor below the age of 18 years (Department of communities 2012, p. 35). My personal values had an impact on the decision I could have made. I value life, and it would be contrary to my personal beliefs to let such a client commit suicide. I could have also felt guilty if the client committed suicide and yet I could have done something to prevent the situation.
My professional obligations require me to act in certain ways that reflect the mission and core objectives of the social work profession. As a social worker, I should strive to enhance the well being of clients, help people to meet their basic needs. In addition, I should pay attention to the needs of the oppressed and vulnerable people. Maynard & Beckett (2005, p. 52) argue that professional obligations also require that social workers place emphasis on the well being of the client and the entire society. Moreover, social workers are obliged to be attentive to forces in the environment which lead to problems in life.
In my opinion, the worker was not reflective of her practice. This is because the youth worker did not portray the necessary skills in taking a stance or some orientation in solving the problem. In addition, she did not analyse, reconsider, and question experiences based on a broad context. Critical reflection can be regarded as crucial since it helps a professional to be all-inclusive while solving the client’s problems. For instance, through critical reflection, a professional makes judgment based on the broad consequences of the decision. As such, critical reflection helps a professional to factor in other factors that may affect the final decision (Bowles et al, 2006).
Australia Association social workers (AASW 2010). Code of Ethics, Canberra, ACT. pp. 7-40.
Bowles, W., Collingridge, M., Curry, S., & Valentine, B. (2006). Ethical practice in social work: an applied approach, Crown’s Nest, Allen & Unwin.
Department of communities (2012). Child protection Act 1999, Queensland. pp. 33-42.
Maynard, A. & Beckett, C. (2005). Values and Ethics in Social Work: An Introduction, London, SAGE. pp. 50-58.
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