As a profession, social work has a long tradition with the concern of ethical dilemmas. The identification and resolution of ethical dilemmas is a foundation of social work education at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Social workers in all occupational settings have been faced with daily ethical dilemmas. While the nature and complexity of these dilemmas have changed over time, modern-day social workers continue to struggle with difficult ethical dilemmas. In fact, all professionals, regardless of their profession, face ethical dilemmas.
As a result, over time, each profession (i. e. social work, law, medicine, military, etc. ) has developed a method for dealing with ethical dilemmas unique to their expertise. While there are several methods for dealing with ethical dilemmas, the most common and accepted method is the development and implementation of a professional code of ethics. The development of a code of ethics for the resolution of ethical dilemmas is instrumental in the development and recognition of a profession by society.
Therefore, one of the key attributes of any profession is the development and implementation of a code of ethics. The National Organization for Human Service Education (NOHSE) developed the Ethical Standards of Human Services Professionals. Professional ethics are concerned with the correct course of professional actions when dealing with ethical dilemmas. Human Services ethics are designed to help human services workers decide which of two or more competing goals is the correct one for the given situational context. The decisions the human services worker makes may affect only a few, however, in some case their decisions affect a multitude of individuals.
There is no sure way of resolving ethical dilemmas, however knowing and honoring the ethical standards will assist the human services worker in making decisions that will be of the greatest benefit for the targeted population or client. The ethical standards of the human services professional are a set of fifty-four guidelines developed by NOSHE to outline the human service professional responsibility to clients. The purpose of NOSHE is to provide a medium for cooperation and communication among Human Service organizations and individual practitioners, faculty, and students. Improve the education of Human Service personnel, by fostering excellence in teaching, research, and curriculum development.
Encourage support, and assist the development of local, state, and national organizations of Human Services. Sponsor forums via conferences, institutes, and symposiums that foster creative approaches to meeting Human Service needs. Frederic G. Reamer’s, Ethical Dilemmas in Social Service in comparison gives the human services professional a wide range of complex and controversial concerns in ethical theory and practice. Reamer discusses the ethical concerns involved in working with individuals and families, the design and implementation of social welfare programs and policies, community work, and relationships with colleagues and employers.
Although not part of the comparison between Reamers book and NOSHE I would also like to mention the National Association of Social Worker Code of Ethics mentioned in Reamers book. The purpose of this Code of Ethics is to establish that the human service profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct. It is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve. It identifies core values on which social work’s mission is based, and summarizes broad ethical principles that reflect the professions core values and establishes a set of specific ethical standards that should be used to guide social work practice.
It is designed to help social workers identify relevant considerations when professional obligations conflict or ethical uncertainties