The Social Work Values and Ethics that Will Forward Your Career

 “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.” – the National Association of Social Workers

If you are considering a future in social work, it can be said that you are considering one of the most rewarding, influential career paths available today. Social workers protect the greater good of society. They promote social justice, social change, and the healthy environments in which we can thrive. Social workers work with people of all ages, in all types of social work settings, teaching others how to address challenges and fulfill their basic needs.

Social workers practice on behalf of their clients, helping them solve challenges, adjust to changes, respond to crises, and develop proactive plans for their lives. As a social worker, you want your clients to open up to you so that you can help them. To do so, you will need to establish trusted relationships.

A core component of social work, then, is understanding how to build your clients’ trust; how to protect your clients’ dignity, integrity, privacy, and worth; how to give them the respect that they deserve. As you begin your social work career, you will need to know how to connect with clients. You will need to know the proper, professional conduct between social workers and their clients. You will also need to know how to handle client-related challenges as they arise.

Whenever people are involved, ethical challenges are likely to arise. Social work is no different. As a social worker, you will encounter many complex situations on a daily basis, involving both ethical and legal issues. You may have a client who moves away, but still requests your services over the internet. The problem is, you are not licensed in his new state. Or, you may have a client who has inadvertently caused harm onto someone, say, transmitted HIV/AIDS. You feel it is ethical to inform the third party, but are abided by patient-confidentiality laws.

As a social worker, you must know how to evaluate situations such as these and assume the appropriate (and professional) steps to take. Fortunately, there are resources to help guide you along the way. Formally determined by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), the Code of Ethics is a guide to the professional conduct of social workers. It outlines the core social work values and ethics, including:

  • Service: Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need. To achieve these, they are expected to deliver meaningful services to those people above self-interest or financial benefit.
  • Social Justice: Social workers challenge social injustice and pursue social change. Their jobs involve great knowledge of cultural and ethical diversity in order to rid oppression, poverty, and discrimination within society.
  • Dignity and Worth of the Person: Social workers must always respect the inherent dignity and worth of a person, while remaining conscious of their dual responsibility to clients and to society as a whole.
  • Importance of Human Relationships: Social workers understand the value of relationships. They must always seek to strengthen relationships to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well-being of clients: whether individuals, families, social groups, organizations, or communities.
  • Integrity: Social workers must always behave in a trustworthy manner. They must act honestly, responsibly and promote ethical practices in their practices.
  • Competence: Social workers should practice within their areas of competence, while continually developing and enhancing their professional expertise.

Throughout your career, you will need to know the NASW’s social work values and ethics like the back of your hand. That is where a reputable, ethics-based social work program can help.

Goodwin College’s social work degree program is built upon the NASW’s Code of Ethics. Across our curriculum, we apply ethical principles to guide our social work practice. We help students develop strategies of ethical reasoning and critical thinking to solve the principled dilemmas that often arise in social work. Through social work ethics courses in theory, law, standards, and risk-management, or hands-on social work internships, aspiring professionals like you can learn how to succeed in one of the most values-based professions today.

Interested in learning more about Goodwin College? Call us today at 888-384-0050 or visit