Social work ethics
Social workers supervision is a process by which counselors acquire the necessary knowledge and skills essential for the improvement of health care. According to Beddoe (2012), quality supervision is founded on a healthy supervisor-supervisee relationship that prioritizes client welfare and promotes the professional development of supervisees. Effective supervision ensures that client needs are entirely met, and counselors continue to develop their skills to promote treatment. Falender (2004) further postulates that Effective supervisors are required to educate, mentor, evaluate, inspire, coach and create an atmosphere that promotes learning, self-motivation, and professional development. A social work supervisor has the role of a teacher, a consultant, a coach and a mentor and is therefore expected to ensure the safety of a specific group despite the existence of competing individual priorities.
A social work supervisor has the role of facilitating the integration of self-awareness of the counselor, theoretical grounding and ensuring the development of clinical skills and knowledge and improve professional practices and functional skills. Falender, (2004) explains that as a teacher, a supervisor is expected to assist in the development of knowledge and skills required in counseling by identifying the learning needs and the strengths of various counselors. This role ensures that a supervisor creates an environment that fosters self-awareness and transmits knowledge for professional growth and practical use. As a consultant, a supervisor should review, monitor performance and counsel the counselor based on their performance. The supervisor hence has the obligation of ensuring that the counselors have alternative case conceptualizations to achieve mutually agreed upon objectives. Setting mutually agreed upon goals ensures group safety and overcomes personal competing priorities. Supervisors are also expected to maintain professional standards and recognize and address any arising form of impairment while safeguarding client welfare. Hence, they are more capable of observing counselor behavior and responding promptly to potential problems.
Professional ethics are the basis of social work, and a profession has the mandate of articulating its fundamental values ethical standards and principles. The National Association of social workers (NASW) has laid out a set of ethics that describes the principles, values, and standards that are guidelines for the conduct of social workers. The NASW (1994) outlines some of the competing ethical standards that describe the obligation of social workers to clients including a commitment to clients, self -determination, informed consent, competence, cultural awareness, and diversity, how to deal with conflicting interests, privacy and confidentiality, and access to records, among others. Informed consent protects the counselor and supervisor from legal concerns that require that the recipient of an intervention or a service is aware of what is about to happen and the potential risks and alternatives associated with the process. Such knowledge ensures that the client makes an informed decision about engaging in a particular service.
Under the informed consent ethical requirements of NASW, social workers are required to provide services to a client based only in a professional context and an informed consent. To do so, the supervisors are expected to use an understandable language in informing the client of the type of services of services they are about to receive and the kind of risks associated with the services offered. Reamer (2013) also explains that social workers are also required to avoid dual or multiple relationships with their current or former clients under the NASW code of conflict of interests. The code requires that social workers should not engage in such relationships especially when there is a risk of potential harm to the concerned client. It also requires that in case such relationships are unavoidable; social workers should take necessary steps to ensure the protection of clients by setting clear and culturally appropriate boundaries.
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