The Life Model of Social Work Practice 39 some cases and prescriptive in others. The social work relationship is a fidu- ciary one, providing clients with certain protections like informed consent, confidentiality, and privileged communication (except when legal mandates apply). The most recent revisions to the code pay particular attention to defin- ing ethical responsibilities associated with social media, electronic records, and online counseling. The Ethical Principles Screen can assist social workers who face ethical dilemmas. This consists of seven considerations: protection of life, equality and inequality, autonomy and freedom, least harm, quality of life, privacy and con- fidentiality, and truthfulness and full disclosure. Social workers also will experience challenges associated with legal man- dates associated with duty to warn and to protect, as well as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requirements. We examine, and provide case examples of, dilemmas that students are likely to face with respect to privileged communication and mandatory reporting, boundary violations, and boundary crossings. Students are helped to see how they can handle these situations in ways that are consistent with their ethical and legal responsibilities but still promote client empowerment. We want students to understand that they have and are entitled to their own personal values. In many instances, what students define as an ethical dilemma actually reflects values incongruence: their values conflict with those of their clients. Six considerations assist workers in reconciling these dilem- mas: self-awareness, self-reflection, understanding and applying the code, comparing one’s worldview with professional responsibilities, professional decision-making, and taking ethical action. In this chapter, we present the case example of Simone and suggest that stu- dents might be angry with or disappointed in her reactions to a group member whose actions she deemed to be irresponsible. We make the point that Simone is entitled to her opinions, and she deserves credit for her honesty in acknowl- edging and struggling with them rather than denying them. Social workers cannot prevent their personal values from interfering with their work unless and until they realize they have them and recognize those instances when they differ from those of their clients. We introduce a distinction here that we will return to and emphasize throughout the book: should versus is. Referring to this case, Simone should respect her client’s choices, but her personal values are inconsistent with this ethical principle (the world of is). Her client, Tamara, and other group mem- bers should be more responsible and refrain from getting pregnant when they have few resources or sources of support, but they aren’t (the world of is—her clients see few options for themselves, feel “special” when they are pregnant, and other possibilities). The “should versus is” conceptualization helps students recognize when values incongruence occurs.
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