44 The Life Model of Social Work Practice 3.2 Factors that influence social workers’ practice Profession’s code of ethics and legal mandates Agency and field of practice contexts Community and cultural contexts Family and social network influences Profession’s historical, theoretical, and empirical contexts Worker Engaging in Ethical Behavior We provide a number of case examples that illustrate the multidimensional nature of ethical behavior. The instructor can begin by helping students dis- tinguish social work ethics from their personal values, since this is likely to be particularly challenging for them. We find that a good way to begin this discussion is to share ethical dilemmas that we ourselves have faced that in fact represented values conflicts for us. Once we have revealed our own strug- gles with our personal values that conflict with clients’ actions and beliefs, it becomes easier for students to disclose struggles that they are having (or anticipate having) in their practicum. This discussion provides instructors with the opportunity to reinforce a concept that we introduce in this chapter and return to throughout the rest of the book: being in the world of should versus the world of is. Referring to the case featuring Simone and her group in the homeless shelter, instruc- tors can explore with students their thoughts about Simone’s reactions to the members of her group. Instructors can then expand upon this discussion by asking students what their world of “shoulds” includes. Instructors might need to first identify their world of shoulds (i.e., their values and beliefs about right and wrong). Whenever possible, instructors should link students’ responses to what they are doing in the field. For example, one of our students described a client who pressed assault charges against her boyfriend after he raped her but then recanted her allegations in court. The student expressed frustration and ques- tioned why her client would do this. The discussion that followed encour- aged all the students to reflect on how they felt about this situation, as well as identify situations that they may encounter that could prompt them to have a similar response.
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