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NASW Code of Ethics
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Code of Ethics

The NASW Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a guide to the everyday professional conduct of social workers. This Code includes four sections. The first section, "Preamble," summarizes the social work profession's mission and core values. The second section, "Purpose of the NASW Code of Ethics," provides an overview of the Code's main functions and a brief guide for dealing with ethical issues or dilemmas in social work practice. The third section, "Ethical Principles," presents broad ethical principles, based on social work's core values, that inform social work practice. The final section, "Ethical Standards," includes specific ethical standards to guide social workers' conduct and to provide a basis for adjudication.  The Code of Ethics, as used today, was approved by the 1996 NASW Delegate Assembly and revised by the 1999 NASW Delegate Assembly.


Free Ethics Consultations FOR NASW MEMBERS
The Office of Ethics and Professional Review (OEPR) provides individual ethics consultations as a benefit of NASW membership.  Ethic consultations are a resource for members who encounter ethical dilemmas and/or have ethics related questions.  Consultation services are intended to guide members through the applicable standards in the Code along with other pertinent considerations and resources that address their concerns and allows them to make reasoned ethical decisions. While we  can discuss ethical issues, we cannot provide definitive answers for  a particular situation or make decisions for members.  

Ethics consultation telephone calls are answered on a first come first served basis and are not pre-scheduled.  If you call during consultation hours and receive a voice-mail response, we request your patience as we complete earlier member calls,  Please leave a brief message clearly stating your name and contact number and we will return your call.  Due to the high call volume, we ask that you allow 24 hours for a return call.  

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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. A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession's focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in living.

Core Values and Ethical Principles

The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers throughout the profession's history, are the foundation of social work's unique purpose and perspective. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.  Below is an extract of the NASW Code of Ethics approved by the 1999 Delegate Assembly:

  • Value:  Service
    Ethical Principle:  Social workers' primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems.
  • Value:  Social Justice
    Ethical Principle:  Social workers challenge social injustice.
  • Value:  Dignity and Worth of the Person
    Ethical Principle:  Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
  • Value:  Importance of Human Relationships
    Ethical Principle:  Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships.
  • Value:  Integrity
    Ethical Principle:  Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner.
  • Value:  Competence
    Ethical Principle:  Social workers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise.

Click here to view the Code of Ethics


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