The Ethical Obligations of Social Work

As a social work student, I am bound to a set of core values in the National Association of Social Workers’ code of ethics in both my personal and professional behavior. The NASW Code of Ethics includes a responsibility to act on behalf of people’s interests to resolve issues within the broader society. It also entails challenging injustice and addressing social problems to promote positive change. When analyzing this role and responsibility as a social work student, I recognize my own white, heterosexual, able-bodied identity and I understand that those levels of privilege are important considerations in promoting these values of social justice and standing up as an ally in support of those who have been marginalized.

The great thing about a social worker’s role is the ability to affect social change on both an individual and societal level.  Whether a social worker is working directly with individuals, families, and groups, or doing advocacy and community organizing or any combination of the above, the foundation and core values remain the same:

  • service
  • social justice
  • dignity and worth of the person
  • importance of human relationships
  • integrity
  • competence

In troubling times and in witnessing of acts of injustice on an individual or societal level, the role of a social worker is never that of a bystander. It is one of action to ensure that the core values within this code are upheld and acted upon.

It is within these core values that I find purpose in this work, and there is much work to be done.


NASW Code of Ethics source:

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