2 What are Ethics? Law vs. Ethics Law – legal justice; following the norms established by society through the political process.Ethics – focus is on social justice; doing what is right. Ethics may be in conflict with unjust laws.
3 DefinitionsEthics: the “rightness” or “wrongness” of an action. Moral standards by which people judge and behave.Code: a “set” of personal ethical principles which guide an individual’s decision making.Professional code: a set of guidelines for performance and evaluation based on core values and principles of a profession.The code for social workers/case managers is the NASW Code of Ethics.
4 NASW Code of EthicsAccepted Standard of Practice for Social Work even if you are not a licensed Social WorkerEthical Standards and ResponsibilitiesTo ClientsTo ColleaguesIn Practice SettingsTo the ProfessionTo Broader SocietyPurpose: To guide the conduct of social workers – social workers are to follow these standards regardless of professional function, work setting, or populations being served. Applicable to FSS case managers.Clients:Commitment: Promote the well being of clients, clients’ interests come first except where client may bring harm to someone else – child abuse, murder, etc.Self determination: Except where clients’ actions pose a “serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or othersInformed consent: Factors to consider – literacy, language, lack of capacity, receiving services involuntarily.Competence: Practice only within boundaries of education, license, certification, etc.Cultural competence and social diversity: Knowledge base of clients’ culture, sensitivityConflicts of interest: Recognize and resolve conflicts, don’t take advantage to exploit others to pursue their personal, religious, political, business interestsPrivacy and confidentiality: Not solicit information that is unnecessary to providing services, get releases of information for only necessary agencies, be aware of where you discuss client info, make sure clients understand the limitations of confidentiality (who has access). Technology has had a significant impact on privacy and confidentiality ( , fax, cell phones, texting, social media – facebook).Access to records: Clients should generally have access to their records unless there is compelling evidence it would cause harm to the client. Requests and any denials should be documented in case notes.Sexual Relationships: NO. With clients, clients’ family members or other people the client has a close personal relationship with.Physical contact: Generally not a good idea. If you engage in physical contact you are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.Sexual harassment: Includes sexual advances, solicitation, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.Derogatory language: Written or verbal.Payment for services: Fees are to be fair and reasonable. Ability of client to pay needs to be taken into consideration.Lack of capacity: Safeguard interests and rights of clients.Interruption of services: Make reasonable efforts to continue services in the event social worker is not available.Termination of services: When services are no longer required. Don’t abandon clients. Non-payment – can terminate if client does not pose risk to self or others.Colleagues, etc.:Respect, Reporting of unethical conduct, Competency, Continuing Ed, Non-Interference of Private Conduct, Promotion of General Welfare of Society, Prevention of Discrimination and Exploitation.
5 NASW Core Values Service – helping people in need Social Justice – challenge injusticeDignity & Worth of the Person – respect for each individualImportance of Human Relationships – recognition and supportIntegrity – act honestly and responsiblyCompetence – increase knowledgeService: Empowering people, not rescuing them.Social justice: Advocate for clients, be aware of issues, be involved.Dignity and Worth: Culturally competent, appreciation of diversity, non-judgemental. Pay attention to tone of voice, expressions, etc.Integrity: Don’t make promises you can’t keep, follow through. Keep client information confidential.Competence: Do not practice outside your area of knowledge, continuing education
6 What are Boundaries?Clearly established limits that allow for safe connections between service providers and their clientsUnderstanding of the limits and responsibilities of your role as a service providerWhy talk about boundaries?Reduces risk of client exploitationReduces client anxiety as rules and roles are clearIncreases well-being of the workerProvides role model for clients
7 Importance of Boundaries Role modeling healthy communication and professional relationshipsAvoiding “rescuer” roleStaying focused on your responsibilities to the client & provision of appropriate services to the clientAvoiding compassion fatigue (burn-out)Maintaining healthy, functioning team (if working with other providers)Maintaining physical and emotional health and safety
8 Awareness Understanding your own needs Understanding your role as a professionalStaying focused on the job at handTaking care of your emotional and physical healthEstablishing clear limits
9 Boundary Crossings and Violations Intimate RelationshipsPersonal BenefitEmotional and Dependency NeedsAltruismUnavoidable CircumstancesPlanning social activities with clientsHaving sex with clientsHaving family members or friends as clientsBeing “friends” on facebookA client should not be your:LoverRelativeEmployee or EmployerInstructorBusiness PartnerFriendBlurred Boundaries:Self disclosure – telling client excessive personal infoGiving or receiving significant giftsDual or overlapping relationshipsBecoming friendsPhysical contactProvider/client providing services outside of work relationship – transportation, repair work, babysitting
10 Consequences of Poor Boundaries Compassion fatigue – service provider’s role may not feel sustainableClient may not receive appropriate or helpful services, which could affect his/her willingness or ability to accept future servicesClient may feel betrayed, abandoned, or poorly servedTeamwork with other agencies may fall apartService provider may act unethicallyReputation of agency/profession may be compromisedClient and/or service provider may be emotionally traumatized and/or put in physical dangerExploitative – Client may feel they “owe” youImpair judgment - Giving a client preferential treatmentNegative consequences – loss of trust
11 Why is it difficult to establish/maintain boundaries? Dual relationships – service provider & client know each other from another settingValues conflicts – client and service provider do not share similar viewpoints on choices, relationships, lifestyle, etc.Vicarious trauma – service provider may experience trauma symptoms due to hearing about client’s experiencesPlaying the “hero” – service provider feels the need to “save” the clientService provider does not trust other team members, believes they can provide services better, believes they are the only ones who can help client
12 Dual Relationships Some dual relationships may be unavoidable You and a client belong to the same churchA client lives in your neighborhoodYour agency hires clients as staff or utilizes clients as volunteersDealing with dual relationships:Open and honest discussion with client on the nature of your relationshipsSeparate functions by locations- work, home, etc.Be aware of threats to confidentialityUnderstand your role as professionalVolunteers?Who sees confidential info? Training? Clients as volunteers?What if you had a relationship prior to becoming a person’s service provider?
13 Questions to Ask in Examining Potential Boundary Issues: Is this in my client’s best interest?Whose needs are being served?How would I feel telling a colleague about this?How would this be viewed by the client’s family or significant other?Does the client mean something ‘special’ to me?Am I taking advantage of the client?Does this action benefit me rather than the client?
14 Signs of Boundary Issues Service provider & client begin referring to each other as friendsService provider receives gifts from or gives gifts to clientsSharing of home phone numbers or other significant personal informationAsking/expecting socialization outside of professional settingService provider reveals excessive personal information to clientDiscussion regarding work/clients dominates service provider’s social interactions with friends & familyService provider offers to provide assistance to client outside of his/her role (babysitting, transportation, etc.)Service provider finds him/herself “venting” with client about other service providers
15 Creating & Maintaining Boundaries As early as possible in the relationship, establish clear agreements regarding your role as a service provider, your availability, best ways to communicate with you, what to do if you see each other in a public settingWhen boundary issues appear, address them quickly and clearly being sensitive to your client’s feelingsIf you disclose personal information, make sure it is relevant to the client’s goals. Too much self-disclosure shifts the focus from the client to the provider and can confuse the client’s understanding of the relationship.
16 Creating & Maintaining Boundaries You may need to frequently clarify your role and boundaries to ensure understanding.Use your supervisor or professional colleagues as a sounding board if you have questions or concerns.Dual relationships – if you had a social relationship with a client prior becoming a service provider you must consider how future interactions impact a client’s confidentiality, and physical and emotional security.
17 Creating & Maintaining Boundaries Working with a team of providers: Promote positive, open communication and respectful sharing of information. Build trust and recognize that you can’t and shouldn’t be the only help your client receives.Take care of yourself! Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eat well, have healthy relationships, exercise and “leave work at work”.
18 ScenarioA tenant, who is a mother of three children, is facing the breakup of her marriage. She is very concerned about how her children will respond, what steps she can take to minimize the disruption to their lives, and how she will manage financially with the reduced income. You decide to relate your own experience of divorce and the parenting issues which followed.
19 ScenarioOne of your favorite tenants moves out of your housing units. After several years you see the tenant at a shopping mall. She offers to take you to the food court for lunch to show appreciation for all the help provided during the time she lived in your housing project.
20 ScenarioYou have a tenant who recently started his own small tax accounting business. He has shared with you that the business is struggling and he does not know what he will do if the business fails. The client asks to prepare your taxes this year.
21 Resources & Contact Info(National Association of Social Workers)