Updated for 2019- 2020
Table of Contents
Field Instruction: Mission and Purpose
Letter from the Director of Field Instruction
Welcome BSSW Students and Agency Field Instructors to the School of Social Work Office of Field Instruction.
The Council on Social Work Education states: “the intent of field education is to integrate the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical world of the practice setting.” Essentially field education teaches future social workers “to think, to perform, and to act ethically and with integrity.” Student experiences during internships can be the most powerful and meaningful aspect of their education.
Numerous organizations and settings such as family service agencies, community mental health settings, hospitals, residential treatment centers for children, homes for the elderly, group homes, crisis hotlines, health clinics, substance abuse and rehabilitation centers, veteran centers and governmental organizations have provided exciting and challenging opportunities for students to enhance their professional growth and development through experiential learning.
The School of Social Work at Syracuse University thanks the agencies and professionals within those agencies who take on the role of teaching and mentoring students in their journey to become professional social workers. We understand the time, energy and resources that this commitment takes, and we appreciate the opportunity to work with each of you in the education and training of competent professional social workers
This manual is intended to provide you with policies, procedures and other important information you will need during the field education practicum. Our goals are to provide an educationally sound experiences to each student, to insure each student and field instructor is provided with individualized support and consultation and to successfully and effectively facilitate the development of social work competence.
We hope your field experience will be both challenging and rewarding!
Tracy T. Walker, LMSW
Director of Field Instruction
School of Social Work
David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics
244 White Hall
Syracuse, New York 13244
(t) 315.443.5565 (f) 315.443.5576 (e) firstname.lastname@example.org
The following Schools of Social Work are to be credited for material in this handbook: SUNY Albany, Hunter College, University of Chicago, California State University, Michigan State University, University of Akron.
Field Instruction Overview
Field Practicum I & II
A field practicum (SWK 435 & 445) is required of the social work major and entails a minimum of 500 hours across 2 semesters of the senior academic year. Students are placed in social work settings for a minimum of sixteen hours a week, which meets the requirements for earning five (5) credits per semester. Field Seminars I & II (SWK 436 and 446) and practice courses (SWK 401 & 402) are co-requisites of field practicum.
Field Seminar I & II
Field seminar (SWK 436 & 446) facilitates students’ understanding of the learning experience through critical reflection on field and course work. Students earn one (1) credit hour per semester for field seminar.
Description of BSSW Field Practicum I &II
The BSSW field experience emphasizes generalist social work practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels. Generalist practice is grounded in the liberal arts and the person and environment construct. To promote human and social well-being, generalist practitioners use a large range of prevention and intervention methods in their practice with individual, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The generalist practitioner identifies with the social work profession and applies ethical principles and critical thinking in practice. Generalist practitioners incorporate diversity in their practice and advocate for human rights and social and economic justice. They recognize, support, and build on the strengths and resiliency of all human beings. They engage in research-informed practice and are proactive in responding to the impact of context on professional practice. The learning experiences should be as broad as possible.
Criteria for Entering the BSSW Level Field Practicum
Social Work students are eligible to register for SWK 435-436: Field Practicum I/Field Seminar I, when the following conditions are met:
- The student has been admitted to the School of Social Work as a candidate for the BSSW.
- The student has passed all completed prerequisite social work practice courses (SWK 201: Social Work Skills Lab I, SWK 202: Social Work Skills Lab II, SWK 301: Foundations of Social Work Practice and SWK 328: Human Diversity).
- The student is within 45 credit hours of completing the BSSW degree (having completed 75 credits)
- Part-time students must have senior status and will complete the degree program within two semesters of completing the field experience.
- The student has a 2.5 GPA in the required Social Work courses.
- The student has electronically submitted a current resume and the on line BSSW "Application for Field Instruction Placement" that is available on the School of Social Work website under field instruction.
- The student is not on academic probation (a social work student will not be permitted to register either for SWK 435-436 or SWK 445-446 while on academic probation).
Exceptions to this pattern require prior approval by the Director of Field Instruction and the Director of the Undergraduate Program.
Required Co-Requisites for Field Practicum I & II
Fall Semester: SWK 435 Field Instruction I, SWK 436 Field Seminar I, and SWK 401 Strategies of Social Work Intervention in the Fall Semester
Spring Semester: SWK 445 Field Instruction II, SWK 446 Field Seminar II, and SWK 402 Strategies of Social Work Intervention II in the Spring Semester
Selection of Field Instruction Settings
The School of Social Work has long standing relationships with many excellent human service agencies which offer a broad array of practice modalities and serve a variety of populations. In addition, the OFI is continuously recruiting new field instruction settings. Below are the policies, criteria and procedures for selecting field settings.
Policy: Vetting of Field Instruction settings (also referred to as agencies) occurs at the Office of Field Instruction (OFI) level while official University/Agency contracting occurs at the Falk College level. The OFI is responsible for recruitment and assessment of new field settings, along with referral to FALK College for initiation of a contract. A field instruction site is not an approved setting until the Syracuse University-Agency agreement has been fully executed. Students cannot enter the internship site until a fully executed agreement is on file.
Procedure: The OFI (one of the Field Office team) complete completes an assessment utilizing the below criteria to determine appropriateness of the setting for social work internships. The field team member will provide information about the field setting to the Director of Field Education to discuss and determine appropriateness. After appropriateness of setting has been determined, the OFI is responsible for completed initiating paperwork that is submitted to the FALK College to begin the contracting process. The contracting process can take an average of 3 months and is managed by the FALK College administrative team.
Criteria: Broadly speaking, the School looks for evidence of commitment to social work principles and values. This is achieved by first reviewing the mission, values and goals of the organization to ensure alignment with social work principles and values. The field office meets with the organizations leadership to discuss the obligations and requirements for the agency to become an internship partner agency. During this meeting, the field office assesses the agencies capacity to foster a climate conducive to student learning. In addition, new agencies complete the Internship Description form. This form provides information about the kinds of internship tasks the student can engage in at the setting, who the proposed field instructor(s) are, and other demographic information.
All agency partners must be able to meet the obligations outlined in the Syracuse University Falk College Agency Agreement. Following is a list of more specific criteria for agency selection. Many of these same criteria are outlined in the Syracuse University Falk College Agency Agreement.
- The agency must be able to provide learning experiences that allow the student to practice and integrate the nine social work (9) competencies. In the foundation year, the agency must have the capacity to engage the student in generalist practice. In the concentration year the agency must be able to provide students with the specific learning opportunities associated with the students concentration;
- The agency must allow the students across all program options in its ﬁeld education program demonstrate social work competencies through in-person contact with clients and constituencies;
- The agency has evidenced that they seek to develop staff and improve programs through training, supervision and connection to the work of experts in their relevant fields;
- The agency must have available qualified BSSW and/or MSW Field Instructors and can provide them the support necessary to function as field instructors, plan the student’s program, prepare for and hold supervisory conferences, attend field instruction orientations and trainings, and generally supervise the student’s progress. The list of Field Instructor Responsibilities is given to the field setting.
- The agency acknowledges the student as a learner whose assignment must be geared to learning needs rather than the scheduling demands and workload of the agency. Student assignments must be flexible enough to maximize learning, providing opportunities for foundation and/or concentration learning experiences.
- The agency must allow the student access to case records and other appropriate material, and recognizes that the student may present de-identified client information for classroom discussions and assignments.
- The agency allows the student to take part in staff meetings, in-service staff training, interagency conferences and such other educational opportunities as might arise.
- The agency can provide adequate physical space for meeting with clients, report writing, as well as access to technology necessary for recordkeeping.
Selection of Field Instructors
The School has established and utilizes criteria for the selection of Field Instructors. Potential field instructors complete a credential form, provide a resume and are interviewed by a member of the Office of Field Instruction (OFI). Decisions regarding the selection of field instructors are made collaboratively by the Office of Field Instruction and agency administration.
In reviewing potential agency Field Instructors, the School looks for possession of professional competence, potential for teaching competence, and a motivation to teach. Good instruction requires not only the possession of competence, but also the communication of knowledge, skills and attitudes to the learner. The prospective Field Instructor should not only be able to demonstrate sound practice, but also be able to consciously explicate the concepts and principles that underlie that practice. Doing this effectively requires an ability to analyze practice situations, to synthesize components, and to make associations. The School expects all Field Instructors to share the School’s commitment to the social betterment of individuals, groups, organizations and communities. The Field Instructor must serve in roles as both a possessor of knowledge and an evaluator of performance. Therefore, he/she should have demonstrated the ability to evaluate his/her own work and receive criticism of his/her own and others’ practice. The School expects that the Field Instructor will adhere to the highest standards of professional ethics and values.
More specifically, the School of Social Work requires that the Field Instructor:
- possess Bachelor of Science in Social Work (BSSW) or a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree from an accredited school of social work;
- have two years post-BSSW/MSW experience in an agency/institutional setting;
- be supervised within the scope of practice as defined by the New York State licensure statute;
- have an expressed interest in and willingness to accept the field instructor’s role and responsibilities within the School’s field education framework. This includes a capacity to share professional knowledge and experience, facilitate development of student competencies and practice behaviors.
Selection of Task Supervisors/ Non-BSSW/MSW Field Instructors
In select instances where valuable learning experiences exist in a setting, a human service professional engaged in social work functions may serve as a task supervisor. Selections are made on an individual basis dependent upon agency’s learning opportunities and the task supervisor’s ability and capacity to provide experiential learning. In instances where a task supervisor is designated to provide the primary day-to-day oversight, the agency is required to also designate someone to provide the required M.S.W. supervision, on a weekly basis. with an M.S.W.
Individuals that do not fully meet the criteria set forth by the CSWE are not permitted to be field instructors. In cases where students have a task supervisor, each student also meets weekly with a fully qualified social work field supervisor at the community agency who reinforces the social work perspective.
The field program has grandfathered some non-BSSW and MSW field instructors who were approved prior to the above policy implementation. In these cases, when a student is placed with one of the grandfathered field instructors, the field liaison reinforces the social work perspective through additional conversations with both the student and field instructor, along with a purposeful focus in seminar and in field visits.
The School of Social Work uses a cooperative placement planning process to match a student with an appropriate field placement. A student is required to participate in a field placement planning meeting with the assigned Internship Placement Coordinator to determine appropriate field placement choices. The placement planning protocol and procedures are outlined below.
Please Note: All correspondence from the field office will be via syr.edu e-mail, per University policy.
Information to Consider When Planning for Internship
The Field Office cannot guarantee an internship in the evenings and weekends only. Evening and weekend internship hours are extremely limited and in some geographic areas are not available at all.
You must have enough flexibility to complete at least 8-10 hours of internship during the weekdays.
If you do not have any flexibility in your employment to have at least one weekday open, it may not be the right time for you to complete this program.
Completing your internship in your current place of employment may be an option if specific requirements are met, for more information on this refer to this section in the BSSW Field Manual.
Two Options for How You Complete Internship Hours:
- Academic Year Only Option: 16-18 hours per week beginning fall semester, continuing through spring and ending mid-May.
- Calendar Year Long Option (only available in designated agencies & some geographic areas do not have this option at all): 10-12 hours per week beginning fall semester, continuing through spring and summer. This option requires the student to request an incomplete at the end of fall and spring semesters.
Placement Planning Protocol
- Students may not contact potential field placement agencies without the approval of their Internship Placement Coordinator.
- The Internship Placement Coordinator will make every effort to place a student in his/her population, setting and area of interest in Social Work.
- Field placement sites are sometimes available within a student’s home community. However, some students may need to commute in order to have access to specific types of experiences.
- Field placement sites offering night and weekend hours are extremely limited. Your Internship Placement Coordinator will make every effort to accommodate your scheduling needs, however cannot guarantee specific placement hours.
- The field placement is not officially confirmed until formal notification has been sent from the field office to the student and agency.
- Students considering a placement with their employer should refer to the Employment-based Placement Policy and the Employment-based Placement Application on the School of Social Work Field Instruction webpage.
- Any student who has not been able to secure an approved placement by the end of the add/drop date will be required to drop field and all other required co-requisite courses. Placement planning will then be postponed to the following fall semester.
Note: It is the student’s responsibility to have a preliminary discussion with their employer to ascertain their willingness to work with the school and the student to create an employment-based placement opportunity before the student meets with their Internship Placement Coordinator.
Placement Planning Procedure
BSSW Students Entering Field for the First Time:
Students will be contacted via e-mail by the Director of Field Instruction to begin the placement planning process.
Students are directed to return the completed field application and a recent resume to the Director of Field Instruction.
- The Director of Field Instruction will then assign the student a placement planner. An email will be sent to the student with the contact information of the assigned placement coordinator.
- The field application and resume will be put in the student’s electronic field instruction file for future reference.
- The assigned Internship Placement Coordinator will contact the student to schedule a placement planning meeting.
- The Internship Placement Coordinator will meet with each student to review the field application and resume. A general orientation to field instruction and its role in the curriculum is provided as needed. During the placement planning meeting the Internship Placement Coordinator will:
- Assess the student’s experiences and learning interests.
- Provide feedback and corrections to the resume, if necessary.
- Research possible placements within the student’s area of interest.
- Provide interview tips and materials, and role play a “mock” interview when necessary.
- At the completion of the placement planning meeting, two to three pre-approved settings are selected as potential locations for internships.
- The Internship Placement Coordinator sends a letter of interest with the student’s name and resume, via email, to the pre-approved settings.
- The student will likewise receive a letter indicating the agreed upon pre-approved settings and the address, phone number and email address of each agency field instructor or contact person.
- It is the student’s responsibility to contact and interview at each potential location.
- If the student has difficulty connecting with the potential setting to secure an interview after several good faith attempts, the student should notify the Internship Placement Coordinator immediately.
- Any changes in the placement planning process should be communicated immediately. This includes communication from the OFI to the student (i.e. program closure, loss of Field Instructor at the location, or change in address), or from the student to the OFI (i.e. student’s placement interests change, student moves, or takes a leave of absence).
- The final placement decision is made by the mutual agreement of the Field Instructor, student, and the Internship Placement Coordinator. Placements are not considered finalized until a formal letter of confirmation has been sent to the student and Field Instructor from the Internship Placement Coordinator.
- As a professional courtesy, students are expected to send a letter of acceptance or e-mail to their chosen agency as well as letters declining to any field instructor with whom they have interviewed and not selected the site as their practicum. This can be done via email or formal letter with copies sent to the assigned Placement Coordinator.
Notification regarding Felony Convictions and Unprofessional Conduct
Students admitted to the BSSW program are hereby notified that having a felony conviction or sanctions for unprofessional conduct may impact potential for obtaining field placement (required for graduation), as well as obtaining social work licensure and future employment as a social worker.
Employment-Based Field Placement
Students who are already employed by a human service agency often inquire about using their employer as a field practicum site. There are strict guidelines that must be met in order to be placed at an existing employment site for practicum. First and foremost, the agency must be willing to provide the student with an educationally-focused experience for the required number of internship hours. Therefore, if a student seeks to use their current employer as an internship site the student must be assigned completely different educationally-focused duties. Employment-based internship placements must be approved by the Director of Field Instruction prior to the student being placed in the agency. Please note that two-year MSW students are required to complete two separate practicum placements over the course of the program. It is rare for a student to be placed with the same agency in both their first and second year of study. Occasionally, there are some agencies with multiple programs that are able to provide two distinct experiences for students.
If a student wishes to request an internship in an agency in which she/he will be simultaneously employed, the following minimal conditions must be met:
- The agency employs full-time social work staff
- An individual with an MSW or BSSW and at least two years post-MSW or BSSW experience must be available as a field instructor, subject to the approval of the School. The field instructor may not have supervised the student in another capacity
- The proposed field instruction assignment must differ significantly from current, and previous employment or field instruction experience within the agency
- The proposed field instruction assignment must meet curriculum requirements, for example: generalist opportunities for BSSW students
It is expected that the student will have discussed the option for Employment-based Placement with the employing agency administrator responsible for staffing decisions prior to the student’s placement planning meeting. It is understood that all formal negotiations related to the proposed assignment subsequent to receipt of the student’s completed application are conducted by the Field Office. Interested students should complete the “Application for Employment-based Placement” form after consultation with the field office. The form is located on the field webpage.
The Application for Employment-based Placement is:
- Initiated and signed by the student
- Authorized by the employing agency with signatures as indicated
- Submitted to the assigned Internship Placement Coordinator
- Reviewed and Approved by the Director of Field Education
Final approval of the Application for Employment-based Placement occurs when the student and agency receive a formal letter of confirmation finalizing the placement. Approval of employment based internship is determined by the Director of Field Instruction. An approved and signed copy of the Application for Employment-based Placement will be put in the student’s electronic field instruction file for future reference.
All inquiries regarding employment-based placement should be directed to the Office of Field Instruction.
Student is Unsuccessful in Securing an Internship
Students are given up to three opportunities to interview at potential field settings to secure an internship. If the above process does not result in a confirmed placement, the Internship Placement Coordinator will meet with the student to discuss what transpired in the interviews. Feedback from the field instructors or interviewers will be used to explore reasons the interviews were not successful and reassess a student’s readiness for field. Options will be explored in a meeting with the student and may include:
- Engaging the student in a “mock” interview to assess for areas of improvement and/or readiness for field and then giving student a final opportunity to interview at a potential field setting.
- Asking the student to register as a part-time student to take coursework that gives the program an opportunity to assess the student’s readiness for practice prior to entering field.
- Counseling the student to re-evaluate his/her choice of social work as a career.
In some instances, the OFI may terminate the placement planning process and the student will not be permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met. Such a decision is based upon the Internship Placement Coordinator’s assessment, findings and feedback from interviewers. The student would then be informed by letter that the OFI will not pursue placement planning at this time and describe conditions that must be met to be reconsidered for placement. The BSSW Program Director is notified of the decision of the OFI. In such cases, the student has the right to request an Academic Hearing from the BSSW Program Director to appeal the decision of the OFI.
Internship Roles, Responsibilities and Policies
Field Instructor Role and Responsibilities
The Field Instructor is expected to carry out the following responsibilities:
- Orient the student to the agency, staff and task supervisors or other social workers with whom the student will work.
- Orient the student to safety concerns as outlined in the safety checklist
- Collaborate with the student to develop and implement a Professional Development Plan.
- Schedule and provide weekly face-to-face supervisory sessions with the student for a minimum of 1 hour
- Provide administrative, educational and supportive social work supervision
- Document supervisory sessions
- Provide appropriate activities and opportunities for the student to develop social work competency consistent with the student level in the program
- Regularly review student progress and provide regular positive and constructive feedback
- Maintain an ongoing evaluation of the student’s progress and complete written evaluations of the student at the end of each semester
- Support the student’s initiative in gaining access to other learning experiences and resources in the agency and professional community when needed
- Confer with the field liaison for mutual planning, review, and evaluation of the field experience
- Inform the field liaison promptly of any problems in the field placement and, when necessary, develop a plan of remedial action with the liaison and the student. (See Field Problem Resolution Procedures)
- Participate in orientation and training activities for field instructors.
- Provide information to the OFI to assist in the future use of the agency as a placement site, including the field instructor’s interest in continuing service as a field instructor
- If a task supervisor is used, the Field Instructor is required to regularly communicate with and oversee the task supervisor’s work with the student
Task Supervisor Role and Responsibilities
A Task Supervisor may be designated by the Field Instructor to assume specific responsibilities for secondary instruction and supervision on a particular assigned task, project, or assignment. The Task Supervisor does not replace the Field Instructor; rather, they collaborate to ensure that the student learning goals are being met and regular feedback is provided. Field instruction gives more emphasis to using the field experiences as an extension of social work classes, to assure achievement of competency and socialization to the profession. Task supervisors must work in a related discipline and have an understanding of the social work perspective. The task supervisor typically has expertise in an area that expands a student’s learning opportunities.
The Task Supervisor is expected to carry out the following responsibilities:
- Provides secondary instruction/supervision to student on a specific task, project, or assignment as assigned by the Field Instructor.
- Responsible for the day-to-day, on-site guidance for specific work, research, and practice.
- Provides constructive feedback to student on specific tasks undertaken.
- Keeps a record of learning projects or tasks assigned.
- Keeps field instructor informed of student’s progress on projects undertaken with task supervisor.
- Participates in the field visit with the Field Liaison once per semester.
- Provides input to the final Performance Evaluation of the student.
- Attends Task Supervisor training sponsored by the OFI as required.
- When feasible, participates in a portion of regular supervision with student and Field Instructor.
MSW Student as Task Supervisor
In some cases, an MSW student who is also a staff person at an internship site may serve as a task supervisor to a Syracuse University BSSW social work intern. To ensure adequate supervision is provided to the intern, and to mitigate the potential for dual relationships or other risk issues, the procedure below is followed:
- Only MSW students who are in the concentration portion of the program and are staff members at the field site may provide task supervision
- The designated concentration level MSW student/staff member may provide task supervision to BSSW interns only.
- The Office of Field Instruction (OFI) will be responsible for reviewing and approving any such requests prior to the start of the internship
- The OFI will ensure that the BSSW intern is fully informed and will document the intern’s consent. The intern will agree to communicate timely with the assigned field liaison should any concerns or issues arise that could impact the intern’s learning.
- In such a case, the OFI will inform the agency-based field instructor and a decision will be made to assign the student to a different task supervisor or to relocate the student to a new field placement agency.
Field Liaison Role and Responsibilities
The Director of Field Instruction and the Internship Placement Coordinators serve as faculty field liaisons and carry the major responsibility for agency-school contacts regarding the design, implementation and evaluation of the field practicum. The role of the field liaison is to provide a link between the School of Social Work, the student and the internship agency. Field Liaisons meet jointly with the student and field instructor at least once per semester to discuss progress made with their Professional Development Plan. Field Liaisons are also available to the student and the agency for problem resolution. The field liaison is available for the agency field instructor to consult with regarding any matters concerning students placed in an agency and can be contacted at any point during the internship for consultation. The School of Social Work highly encourages regular contact between the Field Liaison and Agency Field Instructor to ensure the field placement is a positive learning experience for the student and the agency.
The Field Instructor is expected to carry out the following responsibilities:
- Develop and maintain working relationships between specified agencies and the School of Social Work.
- Oversight of the student learning experience
- Support student safety and competency development
- Consultation in the development of the individual PDP
- Clarification of the expectations of the school and the curriculum
- Consultation and support of the problem solving efforts of student and/or field instructor.
- Making at least one field visit per semester. This typically occurs at the agency but in some cases, due to distance or other factors, the field visit may occur telephonically or via Skype.
- Instructor for Integrative Field Seminar
- Review of student field evaluation and awarding field instruction final grade for each semester.
- Ongoing assessment of the agency setting, field instructor and the potential for providing educationally sound instructional experiences.
- Participate in development and presentation of field instructor training program and related resource materials
- Participation with the Director of Field Instruction in program evaluation activities.
Student Role and Responsibilities
The student, in the role of learner and beginning social work professional, with the support of the field liaison and the field instructor has major responsibility for his/her own learning and is expected to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of the internship experience. Responsibilities center on professional social work behavior, the use of supervision, participation PDP along with self- evaluation and the use of agency resources.
Professional Social Work Behavior
When students enter the field placement they are expected to accept and abide by the Social Work Code of Ethics as required by the profession, state law, and/or licensing regulations. Students assume responsibility for reading the Social Work Code of Ethics prior to entering field placement. Students assume the liability risks that are inherent in their role as a practicing social work student.
The student should not allow their personal issues such as psychosocial distress, substance abuse history, or mental difficulties to interfere with professional judgment or performance. The student is responsible for communicating with the OFI if any personal issues are impacting their ability to practice as a student social worker. If personal issues are not remediated the student’s placement can be terminated. The student should be aware that while in field placement s/he may be subject to unannounced drug screening, similar to that of an employee. Should the student refuse or fail the drug screening, s/he may be subject to termination from the field practicum and/or the program. See Field Problem Resolution Procedures for more details.
- Student must identify themselves to potential client and constituencies as a graduate social work student
- Preparing for and participating in regular conference/supervision with the field instructor, focusing on the student’s learning and application of social work concepts;
- Actively participating in the supervisory experience through asking questions, clarifying expectations, and discussing concerns;
- Accurately communicating to supervisor any challenges with clients and disclosing practice errors;
- Sharing with the field instructor course materials, syllabi and any questions about agency practices that will assist the field instructor in supporting the integration of theory and practice;
- Completion of the Professional Development Plan;
- Engaging in self-reflection and self-evaluation to be aware of professional areas of strength and areas for growth;
- Accurately articulating to supervisor their areas of strength and areas for growth;
- Demonstrating a willingness to modify specific behavior based on feedback from supervision;
- Getting a clear understanding of what agency material can be shared in the classroom and what is considered confidential material/information;
- Appropriately disguising material from the field site to maintain confidentiality;
- Bringing to the field instructor or field liaison any questions or concerns relative to use of agency site for class assignment.
Field Orientation and Other Required Training
All BSSW students entering SWK 435 field practicum I are expected to attend a Mandatory Field Orientation held by the OFI prior to beginning their internship. Roles, responsibilities, and rules are reviewed. Safety in field and supervision requirements are discussed.
The process of becoming oriented to the agency placement, to the supervisory relationship, agency and field safety protocol and decision-making are provided by agency based field instructors and/or task supervisors.
All students are required to complete the New York State On-Line Mandated Reporter training within the first 2 weeks of the semester they enter field.
The Professional Development Plan
The Professional Development Plan (PDP) is a formal plan between the student and field instructor which identifies the learning opportunities/activities that facilitate the attainment of the program competencies. Once students engage in agency orientation activities, they will begin to develop their PDP.
Students should discuss with their Field Instructor how they learn best, their strengths, limitations and areas of interest as they pertain to the agency. The development of the PDP is a cooperative process between the student and field instructor. The PDP will support and inform how the field instructor evaluates the student’s ability to demonstrate related social work knowledge, values and skills. The seminar instructor and/ field liaison reviews the PDP to ensure that it supports educationally sound experiences. The PDP is seen as an organic document that is individualized for each student and develops over time; it will be used for two semesters of field.
Summary of the Components of the Professional Development Plan
The Professional Development Plan allows the field instructor and student to address the logistics and supervisory expectations of the field placement; the learning opportunities/activities the student will engage in, including how they relate to social work program competencies and the field instructor evaluation of the student at the end of the semester. The PDP is submitted in three sections to the field liaison:
Logistics and Supervisory Expectations. This section addresses the orientation plan for the student, the supervision plan, and the logistics of field placement hours and the individual tasks, assignments or learning goals of the student. It is electronically submitted to the field liaison on the date indicated on the syllabus. It is reviewed by the liaison and suggested additions, clarifications or changes will be made by the student, if indicated.
Learning Opportunities /Tasks are developed by the student and field instructor. These opportunities/activities should provide the student with an opportunity to practice and demonstrate the practice behaviors related to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) program competencies. The educational experiences of field instruction are intended to prepare students with the necessary social work knowledge, values and skills for competent social work practice. Section II is electronically submitted to the field liaison on the date indicated on the syllabus. It is reviewed by the liaison and returned to the student. Suggested additions, clarifications or changes will be made by the student, if indicated.
Section III is submitted shortly before the end of each semester. This section gives the student the opportunity to reflect on competency development, achievements, and areas for continued growth. The student’s reflections are shared with the field instructor and field liaison via email to inform the Performance Evaluation that is completed by the field instructor.
Student Disability and Accommodation in Field
Students with disabilities are expected to meet the same educational standards and requirements for competent social work practice as required for all students. Syracuse University complies with federal and state laws which affect qualified persons with disabilities. It is the policy and practice of the School of Social Work to provide equitable educational opportunities for students with documented disabilities in all programs and activities, including internships or field placements. Students with disabilities who may need accommodation in the field placement are strongly encouraged to talk with a member of the Field Instruction staff. Efforts will be made to work with prospective agencies and field instructors to ensure that students will receive the supports they need to function well within the agency setting. Students are also encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services at Syracuse University. Reasonable accommodations that facilitate the performance of a student with a disability will be explored with the student and field instructor in the agency setting. Reasonable accommodations do not necessarily mean extraordinary accommodations.
The OFI recognizes that there are inherent risks for professional social workers and students engaged in the study of the profession. The social work program will provide students with information and skills to address potentially harmful situations. A student should not be required to engage or to remain in assignments or at placements in which s/he feels physically at risk. If a student’s concern about safety interferes with the learning process, the field instructor or student should contact the field liaison to facilitate exploration of the concerns and to seek a mutually satisfying resolution.
Office of Field Instruction Responsibilities:
Provide all field students with general written information about safety in field placement;
- Provide basic safety information at the student field orientation and during their seminar class
- Provide a safety checklist to the field instructor and student, that is required to be reviewed, signed and submitted to the OFI
- Provide support, consultation and coaching as needed
- Responsive to students concerns about safety
- Orient student interns to the agency specific safety policies and procedures.
Such orientation should include, but not be limited to, discussion of safety issues in the community, within the agency building(s), with particular clients prone to violent behavior, or regarding clients who may be sharing living quarters with persons prone to violent behavior, to the extent that such information is known. Security of personal belongings of the student intern while at the agency should be also covered and procedures for the student(s) to follow in the event of a safety or security problem
- Provide accommodations to ensure students’ safety such as is provided for agency staff. In some situations the agency may need to make even greater accommodation for a student, such as partnering with another staff member for home visits
- Review required safety checklist with the student
- Contact the field liaison if an incident occurs in which a student is personally threatened or hurt.
Report safety concerns with the agency based field instructor immediately
- If personally threatened or hurt the student should contact their field liaison.
See Appendix IV for Safety Checklist Information.
Field Visits for Students and Field Instructor
The Council on Social Work Education and the School of Social Work require that school representatives have contact with field instructors and students during the internship experience to monitor student learning and assess field setting effectiveness. The School of Social Work utilizes field liaisons to achieve this requirement by facilitating a minimum of two (2) on-site field visits, once during the fall semester and once during the spring semester with the student, field instructor and task supervisor (when appropriate).
The field liaison is assessing the student’s ability to articulate their learning through:
- Summarization of internship context and experiences;
- Provision of example of integration of theory/social work concepts to practice;
- Discussion of specific cases, groups, projects and/ or learning opportunities and in what ways these have advanced competency development; and
- Use of social work professional language, concepts and ethical guidelines.
The field liaison is assessing the field instructor’s ability to provide an effective learning environment through:
- Verification of regular and consistent teaching including weekly supervisory sessions to monitor, enhance, support and evaluate student learning;
- Discussion of how specific tasks, cases, groups, projects and/or other learning opportunities are appropriate to the students educational level and the related social work competencies;
- Verbal articulation of how the field instructor influences the student’s development as a professional; and
- Discussion of the organizational culture in relationship to supporting student learning.
Preparation for the Field Visit
- Field liaison interviewing and questioning styles vary.
- The field liaison will provide the student and field instructor with a list of potential discussion topics.
- Both the field instructor and student should be prepared to discuss these topics at the field visit.
- The student should provide participants with a current Professional Development Plan.
Students must provide their own transportation to and from their field placement. As part of their field placement duties students may be required to use their personal automobiles for home visits and agency visits. Students are responsible for providing adequate automobile insurance coverage to cover their use of their personal vehicle while performing field agency related duties and activities. Due to liability concerns (i.e., to be sure that s/he is covered to do so), any student who transports clients in her/his personal vehicle must, at the beginning of the placement, inform the provider of the automobile insurance that s/he is using the vehicle for internship.
Students who drive in a vehicle in performance of their field responsibilities – whether transporting clients or not – should be aware that they are not covered for this activity under the university’s insurance.
If permitted by the field agency, students may use agency vehicles to perform duties related to their field experience. Students must follow the agency policies and procedures when using agency vehicles. The students are responsible to ascertain and verify that the agency has appropriate insurance coverage of the student and the agency vehicles when the student uses an agency vehicle to perform agency duties or activities during their field experience hours.
Students are responsible for incurred costs related to parking and driving to and from the field placement agency, making home visits, and agency visits. Some agencies reimburse the costs; some do not. Students are responsible for ascertaining whether the agency will cover the driving costs and to follow the appropriate agency procedures for reimbursement.Agencies are expected to reimburse students for expenses incurred as part of any field assignment, if they reimburse staff for the same expense.
Social Media & Professional Communication
Social work students should consider that they will be representing professional social work practice as well as the Syracuse University School of Social Work program while in the classroom, the university community, and the broader area communities. Students participating in field placement are expected to practice in an ethical manner, in accordance with the NASW Code of Ethics, the NASW/ASWB Standards for Technology and Social Work Practice, University policies and New York State laws while working with clients or programs within their placement.
Students need to be aware that public social networks are not private. Even when open only to approved or invited members, users cannot be certain that privacy will exist among the general membership of sites. If social work students choose to participate in such forums, please assume that anything posted can be seen, read, and critiqued. What is said, posted, linked to, commented on, uploaded, subscribed to, etc., can be accessed and archived, posing potential harm to professional reputations and prospective careers.
Social work students who use social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and other forms of electronic communication (i.e. blogs, etc.) must be mindful of how their communication may be perceived by clients, colleagues, faculty, and others. Social work students are expected to make every effort to minimize material which could be considered inappropriate for a professional social worker in training. Because of this, social work students are advised to manage security settings at their most private levels and avoid posting information/photos about the field placement or using any language that could jeopardize their professional image. Students are asked to consider the amount of personal information posted on these sites and are obliged to block any client access to involvement in the students’ social networks. Client material should not be referred to in any form of electronic media, including any information that might lead to the identification of a client or compromise client confidentiality in any way. Additionally, students must critically evaluate any material that is posted regarding community agencies and professional relationships, as certain material could violate the standards set by the School of Social Work, and/or the NASW Code of Ethics. If a student is found sharing information about agencies on an internet social networking site, or violating field agency policies, action may be taken by the agency or the field office to dismiss the student either from the agency or from the field program.
In the event that a student’s social media profile or linkage is considered a poor professional practice or an ethical violation, the student will be subject to an academic hearing (see section on academic)
A link to suggestions regarding protecting yourself and your personal and professional reputation while on-line can be found at the Syracuse University New Students website.
As an intern in the community, it is important for you to be familiar with the University and your internship site's sexual harassment policies and procedures. The School of Social Work Office of Field instruction follows Syracuse University's Sexual Harassment, Abuse and Assault Prevention Policy
This policy covers the following topics: scope and jurisdiction of the policy, prohibited conduct, consensual sexual or romantic relationships, minors, non-discrimination statement & compliance with laws, Title IX coordinator, resource & reporting options, confidential resources, faculty and staff reporting responsibilities, amnesty for reporting students, students' bill of rights, privacy & confidentiality, and sanctions.
Below is relevant policy information in relation to being an intern through this University:
- The agency setting is considered an extension of the University. If you experience any sexual harassment, abuse or assault within the agency setting, you are protected under the above University policy.
- The field site you are placed in will also have sexual harassment and workplace violence policies and procedures. You are also protected under these policies. The agency is required to orient you to these policies and procedures.
- Faculty and field staff are required to share any incidents of sexual harassment, abuse or assault with the Syracuse University Equal Opportunity, Inclusion & Resolution Services (EOIRS). This includes any incidents that may occur within internship sites.
- If an incident is reported or shared with EOIRS, the field staff, in most cases, will work in partnership with the Syracuse University (EOIRS) to provide students and agencies with guidance and support.
For additional information about sexual misconduct including protective measures, information for victims, complaint process, frequently asked questions, resources and related laws and policies, you can go to Syracuse University's Office of Equal Opportunity, Inclusion, and Resolution Services website.
If you need immediate support, there are resources on campus and in the community. Information is available at Syracuse University's Sexual Misconduct On-Campus Resources website.
The School of Social Work does not take sides in a strike conflict. In the event of a job action at a site for field instruction in which a student from Syracuse University School of Social Work is in placement, the following procedure will be followed:
It is the responsibility of the agency field instructor to inform the field liaison of a job action or impending action. It is then the responsibility of the field liaison to notify the Director of Field Instruction of the job action.
- If the social work staff is involved in the work stoppage, the student should be removed from the agency at once based upon the following considerations:
- Concern for the learning climate at the agency;
- Concern for students safety;
- The student not be put in the position of being perceived as a strike breaker.
- If the social work staff at the agency is not involved in the job action, the field instructor, student, field liaison, agency management and the Director of Field Instruction will meet to consider whether the student will remain at this site. Final decision regarding the student’s remaining with or being removed from the agency is made jointly by representatives of the agency and the School of Social work. Considerations to be taken into account will include:
- concern for the student’s safety;
- concern that the student not be perceived as a strike breaker;
- the learning climate of the situation;
- projected duration of the job action and the impact on the agency;
- if the student requests to be removed, this request will be considered.
- In the event that the student is removed from his/her placement, it is the responsibility of the field liaison and the Director of Field Instruction to develop alternate learning experiences of the student.
- Before students leave a placement, they should have (to the degree possible) all their records and recordings up to date and available to agency personnel so that they are fulfilling their professional responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the field liaison to insure that the student is appropriately evaluated on all field work completed.
Evaluation of Student Performance
Ongoing Assessment of Performance
Assessing student performance in field instruction is a continual process and is an integral part of the educational program. Agency based field instructors are responsible for assessing the student’s knowledge, skills and professional values throughout the internship experience. They are responsible for giving regular and timely feedback to give the student an opportunity to adjust any performance concerns or issues. In instances when the student in unable to remediate performance concerns, the field liaison and field instructor will consult to determine status of student in field internship. In instances where the performance concern or issue is an egregious violation of the Code of Ethics, agency policies or University policies, the agency has a right to immediately terminate the student.
Formal Evaluation of Student Performance
There are several ways in which student’s performance is formally evaluated. These include:
- Completion of a summative field evaluation at the end of each semester by the agency based field instructor. Students and Field Instructors are directed to review the evaluation instrument as part of the preparation for developing the learning agreement. Students and field instructors are required to include a description of mechanisms for competency evaluation in the learning agreement. Examples of evaluation activities are provided to field instructor to assist with the development of the evaluation plan. The field evaluation instrument is available on the field instruction webpage.
- Completion of a field visit conferences between the field liaison, the field instructor and the student. Field visit conferences most often occur face to face, but in some instances may occur via telephone or Skype.
Field Instruction is a course, and as in any course, there is a grade. Grades in Field are “Pass” or “Fail”. A student achieves a grade of “Pass” by meeting the required performance criteria outlined in this Manual and the related field instruction syllabus; by adhering to the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics; and by demonstrating the Essential Abilities and Attributes for Performance in the School of Social Work.
A student achieves a grade of “Pass”
- by meeting the required performance criteria outlined in this Manual;
- by adhering to the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics;
- by participating in Advising;
- by demonstrating the Essential Abilities and Attributes for Performance in the School of Social Work;
- In most cases, for SWK 435 Field Practicum I and SWK 445 Field Practicum II, the field seminar instructor is also the field liaison and is responsible for assigning the grade earned.
Grades for field practicum are based on:
- the summative evaluation form completed by the field instructor which reflects the student’s demonstrated knowledge, skills and values in social work practice;
- liaison visits/conferences between the field liaison, the field instructor and the student
Performance in field instruction is a critical indicator of the student’s readiness to assume professional responsibilities. In addition, successful completion of field instruction is a formal requirement of the MSW program. Therefore, students must earn a Pass (P) grade for each semester in field instruction in order to continue to move forward in field. A failing grade will result in an academic hearing and potential dismissal from the MSW program. Students should refer to the MSW Student Handbook: Grievance and Appeal Procedures if they feel that a grievance or appeal is warranted.
Field Problem Resolution Procedures
Productively and effectively addressing concerns, challenges and or conflicts in the workplace is an essential skill for any professional. If problems arise in the practice setting, it is recommended that students and field instructors refer to the NASW Code of Ethics which provides guidance for ethical responsibilities to colleagues and in practice settings. In addition, the School of Social Work provides a problemsolvingflowchart(see Appendix III) which emphasizes communication of concerns, large or small, at the earliest possible opportunity.
Field Instructor or Field Liaison Identifies a Performance Concern
When the field instructor or field liaison identifies a problem or performance concern it is brought to the student’s attention as soon as observed so that the student, the Field Instructor and/or Field Liaison have full opportunity to initiate timely corrective steps. Field instructors and students are required to keep documentation (ex: supervisory notes) of problems or performance concerns.
If after utilizing the problem solving steps above, a resolution cannot be facilitated, the following action may occur:
A professional improvement plan (PIP) is initiated by the Field Instructor and Liaison, in discussion with the student regarding the student performance issues. The PIP will identify the specific student-related problem areas, skills needing development, the plan for remediation, and time frame for assessing progress toward resolving the problem. The PIP is reviewed with the student and then the student is asked to sign that the PIP was reviewed with them. The Field Instructor and Field Liaison also sign and a copy is sent to the Director of Field Instruction. The PIP is viewed as a tool to provide support and to optimize student’s success.
If after utilizing the steps described above, and improvement is not seen in the allotted time frame, the following possible actions may occur:
- The student is moved to a different field placement agency or a different field instructor with the same agency.
- The placement is terminated and the student is not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met (see termination of field placements);
- A grade of “F” is assigned (see Grading Section for details);
- The student is counseled out of the program
In cases when the agency believes that the continued presence of the student is potentially harmful or disruptive, the student will be removed as soon as an appropriate termination plan can be implemented. Likewise, if the student feels unsafe or otherwise unable to continue, s/he can request a termination of internship. (See Termination of Field Placement section for details.)
Student Identifies a Problem or Concern
The process of problem solving on one’s own behalf is an important part of professional development. The first step in most cases involves the field instructor, field liaison and/or Director of Field Instruction coaching the student on possible strategies for resolving the problem him/herself. If this fails, the student, Field Instructor, Field Liaison and/or the Director of Field Instruction initiates a joint meeting to further assess and enact problem resolution strategies.
If after utilizing the problem solving steps, a resolution does not occur, the following possible actions may occur:
- The student is counseled out of the program;
- A grade of “F” is assigned for field (see Grading Section for details);
- The placement is terminated and the student is not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met;
- The student is moved to a different field placement agency or a different field instructor with the same agency.
Termination of Field Placements
Field placements are made after a thoughtful and structured pre-placement process that involves active student and agency participation. Once confirmed, a placement is not terminated without careful consideration of all contributing factors. The following outlines the possible ways in which termination can occur.
- initiated by the agency/field instructor;
- requested by the student and initiated by the Office of Field Instruction (OFI);
- initiated by the OFI without request from student or agency.
Agency and/or Field Instructor Initiated Termination
Circumstances that warrant a termination from an agency, initiated by the field instructor, would be as follows:
- Student’s poor performance and inability to remediate concerns.
- Potential Actions: the student is not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions have been met; the student receives a grade of fail (F); or, the Director of Field Instruction determines whether student shall be reassigned to a different field instructor within the agency or if the placement will be terminated and the student re-placed at a different agency. The BSSW Program Director is notified of the outcome.
- Student’s egregious violations of Code of Ethics, agency policies or university policies.
- Potential Actions: the student receives a grade of fail (F) and the BSSW Program Director is notified that the student’s enrollment in field instruction has been terminated.
- Student’s personal circumstances interfere with their ability to meet field placement expectations
- Potential Action: the student is counseled to request an Incomplete for field, adjust his/her program status to part time and/or take a Leave of Absence until such time as the interfering factors have been mitigated. Withdrawal from the field placement may require a simultaneous withdrawal from the concurrent practice course; this determination would be made by the practice course instructor.
- Agency’s circumstances interfere with its ability to meet field instruction expectations:
- Potential Action: The student will be re-placed at a different agency, subject to agency availability.*
*If the determination of the OFI is that the student be re-placed at a different agency, arrangements will be made to secure another placement. A revised field placement timeline will be developed to ensure that the minimum 500 hours are completed. Students may be required to complete more than the minimum of 500 hours. The OFI will determine the number of hours to be completed and will inform student before re-placement.
Student Requested Termination
Any student who prematurely and independently terminates a placement without prior approval of the OFI, will receive a grade of Fail (F).
Circumstances that warrant a request for termination is as follows:
- Student’s personal circumstances interfere with their ability to meet field placement expectations:
- Student Action: meet with field liaison to determine if a request for an incomplete may be appropriate.
- Irreconcilable differences between the agency and student.
- Student action: The request for termination is then taken to the OFI for determination. The Director of Field Instruction, field liaison and agency representative will cooperatively decide if the student will be reassigned to a different field instructor within the agency or if the placement will be terminated and the student re-placed at a different agency.
Office of Field Instruction Initiated Termination
The OFI reserves the right to terminate placements for any of the conditions above. The OFI is responsible for ensuring an educationally sound experience and for the continual assessment of a student’s ability to ethically and competently practice as a student intern. Furthermore, the OFI is bound by the Code of Ethics to ensure protection of clients from harm due to student action.
Regardless of the reasons for early termination, it is expected that the student with direction from the agency field instructor, will carry out adequate closure with clients, co- workers, and the agency. Any plans for closure should include: the exact date of termination, the timing and method used to terminate planned contact with individuals and/or groups; the way in which the student will fulfill other agency obligations (completion of summaries needed for case transfer or closing, for example); and completion of necessary separation procedures (sign forms, returning keys and/or ID, etc.). It is expected that the closure process will be done in a way that continues to support the student’s learning and the best interests of the clients served.
Evaluation of Field Instruction Program
Student feedback regarding the field program is vital to the School. Students are provided with the opportunity to formally evaluate the field placement and supervisory relationship at the end of the academic year. In addition, students provide feedback regarding the Field Liaison role and the Field Seminar at the end of each placement. The end of the year evaluation forms provide an opportunity to reflect on the overall field experience in the agency setting. While it is recognized that the information is subjective, it provides an avenue for discussion of any issues that may warrant exploration or change for future student field placements.
All evaluations are submitted electronically through Syracuse University Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA). Students will be notified via email of due dates for all evaluations related to the OFI. All feedback is received by the Director of Field Education and constitutes the primary data used in subsequent planning and placement decisions.
The field instructors are also provided opportunities to evaluate their experiences with the field instruction program. Field instructors are provided with pre and post test at field instructor orientation and trainings along with a workshop evaluation tool to provide feedback to the field program. In addition, field instructors receive an opportunity to give feedback through an annual Qualtrics survey.
Appendix I: Social Work Competencies
1. Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant laws and regulations that may impact practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Social workers understand frameworks of ethical decision-making and how to apply principles of critical thinking to those frameworks in practice, research, and policy arenas. Social workers recognize personal values and the distinction between personal and professional values. They also understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions influence their professional judgment and behavior. Social workers understand the profession’s history, its mission, and the roles and responsibilities of the profession. Social Workers also understand the role of other professions when engaged in inter-professional teams. Social workers recognize the importance of life-long learning and are committed to continually updating their skills to ensure they are relevant and effective. Social workers also understand emerging forms of technology and the ethical us of technology in practice.
- Make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to context
- Use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situation
- Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, & electronic communication
- Use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes
- Use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior
2. Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice
Social workers understand how diversity and difference characterize and shape the human experience and are critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. Social workers understand that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers also understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values, including social, economic, political, and cultural exclusions, may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power.
- Apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.
- Present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experience
- Apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies.
3. Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice
Social workers understand that every person regardless of position in society has fundamental human rights such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers understand the global interconnections of oppression and human rights violations, and are knowledgeable about theories of human need and social justice and strategies to promote social and economic justice and human rights. Social workers understand strategies designed to eliminate oppressive structural barriers to ensure that social goods, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably and that civil, political, environmental, economic, social, and cultural human rights are protected.
- Apply and demonstrate understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels
- Engage in practices that advance social, economic, and environmental justice
- Effectively advocate when issues of social, economic and environmental justice interfere with engagement, assessment, intervention, evaluation, access to and delivery of services
- Demonstrate the ability to provide leadership in advancing human rights and social, economic and environmental justice within a clinical context
4. Engage in practice Informed Research and Research-Informed Practice
Social workers understand quantitative and qualitative research methods and their respective roles in advancing a science of social work and in evaluating their practice. Social workers know the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and culturally informed and ethical approaches to building knowledge. Social workers understand that evidence that informs practice derives from multidisciplinary sources and multiple ways of knowing. They also understand the processes for translating research findings into effective practice. Social workers:
- Use and translate research evidence to inform and improve practice, policy, and service delivery.
5. Engage in Policy Practice
Social workers understand that human rights and social justice, as well as social welfare and services, are mediated by policy and its implementation at the federal, state, and local levels. Social workers understand the history and current structures of social policies and services, the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development. Social workers understand their role in policy development and implementation within their practice settings at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels and they actively engage in policy practice to effect change within those settings. Social workers recognize and understand the historical, social, cultural, economic, organizational, environmental, and global influences that affect social policy. They are also knowledgeable about policy formulation, analysis, implementation, and evaluation.
- Identify social policy at the local, state, and federal level that impacts well-being, service delivery, and access to social services
- Assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services
- Apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.
6. Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers understand that engagement is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers value the importance of human relationships. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to facilitate engagement with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand strategies to engage diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may impact their ability to effectively engage with diverse clients and constituencies. Social workers value principles of relationship building and inter-professional collaboration to facilitate engagement with clients, constituencies, and other professionals as appropriate.
- Apply and demonstrate knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies.
- Use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to effectively engage diverse clients and constituencies.
7. Assess with Individuals, Families. Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers understand that assessment is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in the assessment of diverse clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand methods of assessment with diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers recognize the implications of the larger practice context in the assessment process and value the importance of inter-professional collaboration in this process. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may affect their assessment and decision-making.
- Collect and organize data, and apply critical thinking to interpret information from clients and constituencies.
- Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other
multi-disciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies.
- Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives based on the critical assessment of strengths needs, and challenges of clients and constituencies.
- Select appropriate intervention strategies based on the assessment, research knowledge, and values and preferences of clients and constituencies.
8. Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers understand that intervention is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are knowledgeable about evidence informed interventions to achieve the goals of clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to effectively intervene with clients and constituencies. Social workers understand methods of identifying, analyzing and implementing evidence-informed interventions to achieve client and constituency goals. Social workers value the importance of inter-professional teamwork and communication in interventions, recognizing that beneficial outcomes may require interdisciplinary, inter-professional, and inter-organizational collaboration.
- Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with clients and constituencies
- Use inter-professional collaboration as appropriate, to achieve beneficial practice outcomes
- Negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of diverse clients and constituencies
- Facilitate effective transitions and endings that advance mutually agreed-on goals
9. Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities
Social workers understand that evaluation is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Social workers recognize the importance of evaluating processes and outcomes to advance practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in evaluating outcomes. Social workers understand qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating outcomes and practice effectiveness.
- Select and use appropriate methods for evaluation of outcomes.
- Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the evaluation of outcomes.
- Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate intervention and program processes and outcomes.
- Apply evaluation findings to improve practice effectiveness at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.
Appendix II: Frequently Asked Questions for BSSW Students
Q: How do I find a field placement?
A: The School of Social Work uses a cooperative placement planning process to match a student with an appropriate field placement. The process begins with the completion of the Field Placement Application and submission of a resume to the Field Office. Students are assigned to a field placement coordinator who works with them to determine appropriate field placement choices. Students may not contact potential field placement agencies without the approval of their Internship Placement Coordinator.
Q: I am already employed at a social work agency. Can I do my field placement there?
A: Students who are currently working or have a potential job opportunity within a human service agency may be able to negotiate an employed placement with their employer. The Employment-Based Placement Policy and the Employment-Based Placement Application is available on the School of Social Work Field Instruction webpage. It is the student’s responsibility to have a preliminary discussion with their employer to ascertain their willingness to work with the school and the student to create an employment based-placement opportunity before the student meets with their Internship Placement Coordinator. To be approved, an employment-based placement proposal must demonstrate that the student can take on tasks that differ from what their previous responsibilities in the agency have been as well as meet the requirements of the curriculum. In addition, the agency must provide a qualified field instructor who is not the student’s regular supervisor. Many students are able to successfully negotiate a field placement within their agency.
Q: Can an internship take place during evening and weekend hours?
A: Students need to be at their internship during normal agency business hours and during times when their field supervisor is available. These conditions do not usually allow students to do their entire internship during evening or weekend hours although it might be possible to complete some hours during these times.
Q: Can students work while attending the BSSW program?
A: Many students work while attending the BSSW program. It is recommended that full-time BSSW students work no more than 20 hours per week.
Q: What is the difference between a field liaison and a field instructor?
A: The field liaison is employed by the School of Social Work to be the contact person for students and field instructors during the internship period. The field instructor is employed by the agency and is the internship site supervisor for the student. Field liaisons in cooperation with field instructors are responsible for ensuring an educationally sound experience.
Q: What are the field liaison’s responsibilities?
A: The field liaison will:
- Meet with the student and field instructor (at the internship site) at least once a semester
- Review and maintain all required field instruction documentation
- Provide support, coaching, monitoring and consultation for both the student and the field instructor
- Ensure that all program requirements are met
- Assign the pass/fail grade earned for field
Q: What are the field instructor’s responsibilities?
A: The field instructor will:
- Ensure that the student is adequately oriented to the agency/program
- Provide at least an hour of formal supervision per week
- Provide a cohesive array of activities and opportunities to enhance the educational experience of the student
- Provide constructive and effective feedback on a regular basis
- In cooperation with the student, complete the Professional Development Plan (PDP)
- Complete a formal evaluation of the student at the end of each semester
Q: What are the student’s responsibilities in the field placement?
A: Sites will vary in their expectations and responsibilities for students. The Office of Field Instruction expects students will:
- Develop a Professional Development Plan in cooperation with the field instructor
- Engage actively in the supervisory process
- Be open to constructive feedback
- Conduct themselves in a professional manner
- Take personal responsibility for their growth and development as a professional social worker
Q: When does field instruction begin and end?
A: Generally, your internship begins the first week of classes and runs to the end of finals week. Some school based settings do not have students start until the beginning of their school year. Some settings have students come in early for orientation. It is the student’s responsibility to contact their field instructor to arrange a start date which cannot be any earlier than two weeks before the start of the fall semester.
Q: What happens during school breaks?
A: Students must negotiate with their field instructor what is expected of the student during school breaks. Depending on the type of internship, you may or may not be able to be away for an extended period of time. Program and client needs must be a priority during your internship.
Q: How many internship hours are required?
A: Students are generally required to complete 16-18 hours a week (250 per semester or 500 hours per academic year) preferably in a two day time frame. Some students do break up their hours over several days if this meets client and programmatic needs. Occasionally, part-time students may have an alternate schedule for an entire year. Speak with your placement planner about such arrangements for more detail.
Q: Can I bank my internship hours?
A: No. Students are required to be in their internship all semester. Students cannot complete their internship any earlier than semester finals week. If a student exceeds the minimum 250 hours per semester, the additional hours simply enhance the student’s experience.
Q: Vacation, sick and personal time?
A: You should treat your internship like a job. The student is responsible for making prior arrangements or calling in if they need to take time off from their internship. The students and field instructor are responsible for tracking internship hours and having a plan to make up any time missed due to vacation, sick or personal time.
Q: How do I record my internship hours?
A: BSSW (undergraduate) students will be given time logs during their seminar class that should be used to record their internship hours. MSW (graduate) students need to establish with their field supervisor how their time will be documented. MSW students will be required to provide a mid-semester status report to their field liaison.
Q: Where can I get information about the field office (including PDP format)?
A: Your field liaison, seminar instruction blackboard page, the administrative assistant to the field office.
Q: What is the Professional Development Plan (PDP)?
A: The Professional Development Plan is a formal document developed collaboratively by the student and field instructor to structure the goals and activities of the individual placement. The foundation and concentration Professional Development Plan guides field instructors and students to develop practice learning opportunities that specifically permit the student to gain competency in all of the practice behaviors which operationalize the competencies. The Professional Development Plan includes a mechanism for cross checking activities with competencies as an additional mechanism for ensuring that the necessary generalist or advanced practice opportunities are available to the student. Field instructors and students receive support in understanding the competencies and in developing the PDP through large group instruction at orientations, field instruction seminars, individual consultation with the field liaison, and supporting materials available through the School website. Resources are available on Blackboard to enhance the capacity of field instructors to design learning experiences that complement the classroom-based components of the curriculum.
Q: Do I have malpractice insurance?
A: Syracuse University provides malpractice insurance for all social work students in the field. The policy is a professional liability policy that covers the students while they are participating in an internship for covered claims arising from real or alleged negligence. The policy also provides coverage for legal fees and court costs. In addition, the policy provides for medical expenses incurred as a result of bodily injury to the Insured and/or property damage to personal property owned by the Insured caused by an assault or at the direction of another. Also, the policy provides reimbursement for medical related expenses that the Insured voluntarily pays or has incurred for rendering first aid to others as a result of any bodily injury covered by the policy. This is not coverage for the Insured, but rather to third parties. You will be given a malpractice form to complete and sign during the field orientation. Questions about the policy should be directed to Office of Field Instruction (315) 443-5557
Q: What records should I retain?
A: You should keep copies of all documents you receive from the Office of Field Instruction. This includes but is not limited to your confirmation letter, PDP, field evaluation and administrative supervision notes. You may need to refer to these documents in the future or they may be required for licensing.
Q: What should I know about the dress code?
A: Each internship site has different expectations around dress. You should ask your field instructor what is and is not appropriate to wear. Regardless of a formal or informal dress code, students are always expected to present in a professional manner.
Q: Can I change my placement after I have already started?
A: The Office of Field Instruction rarely allows a student to change their field placement during the academic year. The Field Office understands the cycle of an internship, therefore a process has been established to address typical problems in field. Please refer to the problem solving flowchart in your field manual (Appendix V) and provided on the Field Instruction Webpage. Any concerns about your ability to complete your placement should be brought to your field instructor and liaison immediately.
Q: Do I need to identify myself as a social work intern when working with clients?
A: Yes. National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), have very clear ethical standards governing students and their supervisors failing to identify a practitioner as a student. The NASW Code of Ethics provides ethical standards and violations can be brought to the NYS Office of Professional Discipline. Also, social work programs and field placement agencies that do not ensure that students disclose their intern status are in violation of CSWE standards. Clients and other professionals have a right to know the qualification of their service provider. Clients have a right to decline services from an intern, however, this rarely occurs.
Q: What does the school mean by professional social work behavior?
A: The field placement is the arena where students are socialized to professional social work behavior. Professional social work behavior in the context of academic performance includes ethical behavior and psychological well-being sufficient to interact positively with clients. The NASW Code of Ethics and the CSWE competencies and practice behaviors provide guidelines for practitioners. Developing professional social work behavior is an ongoing process which requires continuous reflection and self-awareness.
Q: What is the difference in expectations for BSSW and first year MSW students?
A: There is no difference in expectations for BSSW and first year MSW students. BSSW students are held to the same standards as first year MSW students. BSSW students who successfully complete an undergraduate program in Social Work are awarded advanced standing status in a Master of Social Work program and enter directly into the concentration year of the curriculum.
Q: What is generalist practice?
A: Generalist practice is grounded in the liberal arts and the person in environment construct. To promote human and social well-being, generalist practitioners use a large range of prevention and intervention methods in their practice with individual, families, groups, organizations, and communities. The generalist practitioner identifies with the social work profession and applies ethical principles and critical thinking in practice. Generalist practitioners incorporate diversity in their practice and advocate for human rights and social and economic justice. They recognize, support, and build on the strengths and resiliency of all human beings. They engage in research-informed practice and are proactive in responding to the impact of context on professional practice. Generalist social work practice encompasses a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills in understanding clients’ needs within the scope of the environment. Generalist social work involves addressing the relationship between individual and collective issues utilizing a systems approach to practice that respects cultural diversity. Generalist social workers provide comprehensive assessments of problems and evaluate multiple solutions in order to choose appropriate interventions to build upon the strengths of client systems.
Q: Can I complete a placement in a private practice?
A: No. The school has a policy against placing students in a private practice setting.
Q: Can students receive field credit for past work experience?
A. No, students cannot receive field credit for past experience. The accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education state that academic credit for life experience and previous work experience shall not be given, in whole or in part, in lieu of the field internship or courses in the professional foundation areas.
Appendix III: Problem Solving Flow Chart
- Student identifies a problem or concern
- Student and field instructor discuss issue
Issue is resolved or a plan is made to address the problem
Issue is not resolved and no plan to address problem
Student consults with SU field liaison who provides coaching
Student and field instructor discuss issue again
Issue is resolved or a plan is made to address the problem
Issue is not resolved and no plan to address problem
Student notifies SU field liaison
Liaison schedules & facilitates meeting with field instructor & student
Field Liaison notifies Director of Field Instruction
Issue is resolved or a plan is made to address the problem
- Cannot facilitate a resolution
Liaison notifies Field Director and SWK Program Chair who consult to develop a plan of action
Student is moved to a different field instructor or agency
Student is removed and not permitted to re-enter field until certain conditions are met
Student is counseling out of the program
Appendix IV: Social Worker Safety Tips
- Organize before leaving home
- Visually check parking lot when you arrive
- Are suspicious vehicles or persons in the lot?
- Obtain plate number if possible
- Vary your parking
- Do not park next to van or truck
- Do not accept unsolicited offers of assistance
- Do not unlock the door to admit stranger
- Sound your horn if menacing stranger remains around your vehicle
- Cellular phone – call 911 assistance
- Be alert and aware of surroundings
- Visually check building when arrive
- Have key or swipe card ready
- Do not converse with strangers
Plan for the Visit
- Notify office of destination with the name, address, phone number, time of visit, and reason for the visit
- Notify client you are coming and purpose of the visit / meeting
- Obtain specific directions
- Have a street guide / map in car
- Bring cellular phone if available
- Call office before entering home
- Establish office procedure if you do not call in
- Try to conduct home visit in pairs, if possible
- Wear clothes and shoes that provide freedom of movement
Traveling to Site
- Do not keep things out in open in car
- Lock purse / valuables in car prior to leaving for visit
- Keep car in working order with at least ½ tank of gas
- Drive with doors locked
- Park in well-lit, visible area and lock the car doors (do not park in the driveway or directly in front of the house)
- Observe the premises for suspicious activity; listen for threatening sounds
- Listen to your body language, if you feel unsafe at any time, LEAVE
- Do not slam car doors
- Do not walk on lawns
- Knock and use doorbell
- Give eyes a chance to adjust to light (before entering)
- Carry as little as possible into home
- Return to car with key ready, check front and back seat and floor before getting in
- If you are being followed, do not drive home; drive to nearest police or fire station and honk your horn or drive to open gas station or business where you can safely call the police
- Do not leave the car unless you can walk into the building safely
- If possible, have a cellular phone in your car for emergencies; it may save your life!
- Always carry small flashlight with you (in purse or car)
During the Visit
- Visually check others present during visit
- Assess person’s emotional state
- Avoid sitting in the kitchen (many possible weapons; boiling water, knives)
- Always wait to be invited to sit
- Sit in straight-backed chair (easier to rise from chair in a hurry)
- Be aware of all possible exits in the house
- If there are dogs in house, ask client to remove them due to your allergies
- Ask to turn the TV off, as “I” have trouble hearing
- Restate the goal of the visit
- Maintain a respectful and courteous attitude
- Respect the individual’s personal space (maintain an appropriate distance)
- Keep a clear path to the door
- Avoid positioning self so that you become trapped if needed to make quick exit
- If situation escalates, LEAVE
- Avoid giving out personal information, such as address or phone number
- Visually check the surrounding area or parking area when leaving
- ALWAYS carry car keys in same place where they are readily accessible
- Plan an emergency escape route
- Beware of how to gain help and to call law enforcement
- Know if 911 can be called directly or if other numbers must be called first
- Arrange furniture in office to prevent entrapment (sit where you have quickest access to the doorway)
- Avoid working alone in office after regular working hours; notify someone you are working late and keep all exterior doors locked
- Avoid seeing clients alone after hours
- Have co-worker attend meeting when interviewing possibly threatening clients or if you feel your personal safety might be threatened
- Keep desk and office clear of objects that could be used as a weapon Avoid giving personal information during interview
- Keep your automobile locked at all times
- Keep it from escalating; try to stay calm and listen attentively
- Avoid sudden movements
- Avoid confrontation
- Maintain eye contact and personal space
- Keep situation in your control
- Use calm tone when speaking
- Do not argue with person
- Signal a co-worker or supervisor that you need help (try not to let angry client see this, as it may escalate situation)
Information collected from: Joe McAnally, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services; AMRIC Associates Limited, Investigation and Security Consulting; De-Escalating Volatile Situations Seminar presented by Carolyn Mil
Appendix V: NASW Code of Ethics
Approved by the 1996 NASW Delegate Assembly and revised by the 2008 NASW Delegate Assembly
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.
Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of clients. “Clients” is used inclusively to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct practice, community organizing, supervision, consultation administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation. Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of people to address their own needs. Social workers also seek to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities, and other social institutions to individuals’ needs and social problems.
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:
- social justice
- dignity and worth of the person
- importance of human relationships integrity
This constellation of core values reflects what is unique to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.
Purpose of the NASW Code of Ethics
Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct. The Code is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the settings in which they work, or the populations they serve.
The NASW Code of Ethics serves six purposes:
- The Code identifies core values on which social work’s mission is based.
- The Code summarizes broad ethical principles that reflect the profession’s core values and establishes a set of specific ethical standards that should be used to guide social work practice.
- The Code is designed to help social workers identify relevant considerations when professional obligations conflict or ethical uncertainties arise.
- The Code provides ethical standards to which the general public can hold the social work profession accountable.
- The Code socializes practitioners new to the field to social work’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards.
- The Code articulates standards that the social work profession itself can use to assess whether social workers have engaged in unethical conduct. NASW has formal procedures to adjudicate ethics complaints filed against its members.* In subscribing to this Code, social workers are required to cooperate in its implementation, participate in NASW adjudication proceedings, and abide by any NASW disciplinary rulings or sanctions based on it.
The Code offers a set of values, principles, and standards to guide decision making and conduct when ethical issues arise. It does not provide a set of rules that prescribe how social workers should act in all situations. Specific applications of the Code must take into account the context in which it is being considered and the possibility of conflicts among the Code‘s values, principles, and standards. Ethical responsibilities flow from all human relationships, from the personal and familial to the social and professional.
Further, the NASW Code of Ethics does not specify which values, principles, and standards are most important and ought to outweigh others in instances when they conflict. Reasonable differences of opinion can and do exist among social workers with respect to the ways in which values, ethical principles, and ethical standards should be rank ordered when they conflict. Ethical decision making in a given situation must apply the informed judgment of the individual social worker and should also consider how the issues would be judged in a peer review process where the ethical standards of the profession would be applied.
Ethical decision making is a process. There are many instances in social work where simple answers are not available to resolve complex ethical issues. Social workers should take into consideration all the values, principles, and standards in this Code that are relevant to any situation in which ethical judgment is warranted. Social workers’ decisions and actions should be consistent with the spirit as well as the letter of this Code.
In addition to this Code, there are many other sources of information about ethical thinking that may be useful. Social workers should consider ethical theory and principles generally, social work theory and research, laws, regulations, agency policies, and other relevant codes of ethics, recognizing that among codes of ethics social workers should consider the NASW Code of Ethics as their primary source. Social workers also should be aware of the impact on ethical decision making of their clients’ and their own personal values and cultural and religious beliefs and practices. They should be aware of any conflicts between personal and professional values and deal with them responsibly. For additional guidance social workers should consult the relevant literature on professional ethics and ethical decision making and seek appropriate consultation when faced with ethical dilemmas. This may involve consultation with an agency-based or social work organization’s ethics committee, a regulatory body, knowledgeable colleagues, supervisors, or legal counsel.
Instances may arise when social workers’ ethical obligations conflict with agency policies or relevant laws or regulations. When such conflicts occur, social workers must make a responsible effort to resolve the conflict in a manner that is consistent with the values, principles, and standards expressed in this Code. If a reasonable resolution of the conflict does not appear possible, social workers should seek proper consultation before making a decision.
The NASW Code of Ethics is to be used by NASW and by individuals, agencies, organizations, and bodies (such as licensing and regulatory boards, professional liability insurance providers, courts of law, agency boards of directors, government agencies, and other professional groups) that choose to adopt it or use it as a frame of reference. Violation of standards in this Code does not automatically imply legal liability or violation of the law. Such determination can only be made in the context of legal and judicial proceedings. Alleged violations of the Code would be subject to a peer review process. Such processes are generally separate from legal or administrative procedures and insulated from legal review or proceedings to allow the profession to counsel and discipline its own members.
A code of ethics cannot guarantee ethical behavior. Moreover, a code of ethics cannot resolve all ethical issues or disputes or capture the richness and complexity involved in striving to make responsible choices within a moral community. Rather, a code of ethics sets forth values, ethical principles, and ethical standards to which professionals aspire and by which their actions can be judged. Social workers’ ethical behavior should result from their personal commitment to engage in ethical practice. The NASW Code of Ethics reflects the commitment of all social workers to uphold the profession’s values and to act ethically. Principles and standards must be applied by individuals of good character who discern moral questions and, in good faith, seek to make reliable ethical judgments.
The following broad ethical principles are based on social work’s core values of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. These principles set forth ideals to which all social workers should aspire.
Ethical Principle: Social workers’ primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers elevate service to others above self-interest. Social workers draw on their knowledge, values, and skills to help people in need and to address social problems. Social workers are encouraged to volunteer some portion of their professional skills with no expectation of significant financial return (pro bono service).
Value: Social Justice
Ethical Principle: Social workers challenge social injustice.
Social workers pursue social change, particularly with and on behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups of people. Social workers’ social change efforts are focused primarily on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. These activities seek to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources; equality of opportunity; and meaningful participation in decision making for all people.
Value: Dignity and Worth of the Person
Ethical Principle: Social workers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person.
Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity. Social workers promote clients’ socially responsible self-determination. Social workers seek to enhance clients’ capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs. Social workers are cognizant of their dual responsibility to clients and to the broader society. They seek to resolve conflicts between clients’ interests and the broader society’s interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with the values, ethical principles, and ethical standards of the profession.
Value: Importance of Human Relationships
Ethical Principle: Social workers recognize the central importance of human relationships.
Social workers understand that relationships between and among people are an important vehicle for change. Social workers engage people as partners in the helping process. Social workers seek to strengthen relationships among people in a purposeful effort to promote, restore, maintain, and enhance the well-being of individuals, families, social groups, organizations, and communities.
Ethical Principle: Social workers behave in a trustworthy manner.
Social workers are continually aware of the profession’s mission, values, ethical principles, and ethical standards and practice in a manner consistent with them. Social workers act honestly and responsibly and promote ethical practices on the part of the organizations with which they are affiliated.
Ethical Principle: Social workers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their professional expertise.
Social workers continually strive to increase their professional knowledge and skills and to apply them in practice. Social workers should aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.
The following ethical standards are relevant to the professional activities of all social workers. These standards concern (1) social workers’ ethical responsibilities to clients, (2) social workers’ ethical responsibilities to colleagues,
(3) social workers’ ethical responsibilities in practice settings, (4) social workers’ ethical responsibilities as professionals, (5) social workers’ ethical responsibilities to the social work profession, and (6) social workers’ ethical responsibilities to the broader society.
Some of the standards that follow are enforceable guidelines for professional conduct, and some are aspirational. The extent to which each standard is enforceable is a matter of professional judgment to be exercised by those responsible for reviewing alleged violations of ethical standards.
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities To Clients
1.01 Commitment to Clients
Social workers’ primary responsibility is to promote the well-being of clients. In general, clients’ interests are primary. However, social workers’ responsibility to the larger society or specific legal obligations may on limited occasions supersede the loyalty owed clients, and clients should be so advised. (Examples include when a social worker is required by law to report that a client has abused a child or has threatened to harm self or others.)
Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Social workers may limit clients’ right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.
1.03 Informed Consent
Social workers should provide services to clients only in the context of a professional relationship based, when appropriate, on valid informed consent. Social workers should use clear and understandable language to inform clients of the purpose of the services, risks related to the services, limits to services because of the requirements of a third-party payer, relevant costs, reasonable alternatives, clients’ right to refuse or withdraw consent, and the time frame covered by the consent. Social workers should provide clients with an opportunity to ask questions.
In instances when clients are not literate or have difficulty understanding the primary language used in the practice setting, social workers should take steps to ensure clients’ comprehension. This may include providing clients with a detailed verbal explanation or arranging for a qualified interpreter or translator whenever possible.
In instances when clients lack the capacity to provide informed consent, social workers should protect clients’ interests by seeking permission from an appropriate third party, informing clients consistent with the clients’ level of understanding. In such instances social workers should seek to ensure that the third party acts in a manner consistent with clients’ wishes and interests. Social workers should take reasonable steps to enhance such clients’ ability to give informed consent.
In instances when clients are receiving services involuntarily, social workers should provide information about the nature and extent of services and about the extent of clients’ right to refuse service.
Social workers who provide services via electronic media (such as computer, telephone, radio, and television) should inform recipients of the limitations and risks associated with such services.
Social workers should obtain clients’ informed consent before audiotaping or videotaping clients or permitting observation of services to clients by a third party.
Social workers should provide services and represent themselves as competent only within the boundaries of their education, training, license, certification, consultation received, supervised experience, or other relevant professional experience.
Social workers should provide services in substantive areas or use intervention techniques or approaches that are new to them only after engaging in appropriate study, training, consultation, and supervision from people who are competent in those interventions or techniques.
When generally recognized standards do not exist with respect to an emerging area of practice, social workers should exercise careful judgment and take responsible steps (including appropriate education, research, training, consultation, and supervision) to ensure the competence of their work and to protect clients from harm.
1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity
Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures.
Social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients’ cultures and to differences among people and cultural groups.
Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
1.06 Conflicts of Interest
Social workers should be alert to and avoid conflicts of interest that interfere with the exercise of professional discretion and impartial judgment. Social workers should inform clients when a real or potential conflict of interest arises and take reasonable steps to resolve the issue in a manner that makes the clients’ interests primary and protects clients’ interests to the greatest extent possible. In some cases, protecting clients’ interests may require termination of the professional relationship with proper referral of the client.
Social workers should not take unfair advantage of any professional relationship or exploit others to further their personal, religious, political, or business interests.
Social workers should not engage in dual or multiple relationships with clients or former clients in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. In instances when dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable, social workers should take steps to protect clients and are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries. (Dual or multiple relationships occur when social workers relate to clients in more than one relationship, whether professional, social, or business. Dual or multiple relationships can occur simultaneously or consecutively.)
When social workers provide services to two or more people who have a relationship with each other (for example, couples, family members), social workers should clarify with all parties which individuals will be considered clients and the nature of social workers’ professional obligations to the various individuals who are receiving services. Social workers who anticipate a conflict of interest among the individuals receiving services or who anticipate having to perform in potentially conflicting roles (for example, when a social worker is asked to testify in a child custody dispute or divorce proceedings involving clients) should clarify their role with the parties involved and take appropriate action to minimize any conflict of interest.
1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality
Social workers should respect clients’ right to privacy. Social workers should not solicit private information from clients unless it is essential to providing services or conducting social work evaluation or research. Once private information is shared, standards of confidentiality apply.
Social workers may disclose confidential information when appropriate with valid consent from a client or a person legally authorized to consent on behalf of a client.
Social workers should protect the confidentiality of all information obtained in the course of professional service, except for compelling professional reasons. The general expectation that social workers will keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or other identifiable person. In all instances, social workers should disclose the least amount of confidential information necessary to achieve the desired purpose; only information that is directly relevant to the purpose for which the disclosure is made should be revealed.
Social workers should inform clients, to the extent possible, about the disclosure of confidential information and the potential consequences, when feasible before the disclosure is made. This applies whether social workers disclose confidential information on the basis of a legal requirement or client consent.
Social workers should discuss with clients and other interested parties the nature of confidentiality and limitations of clients’ right to confidentiality. Social workers should review with clients circumstances where confidential information may be requested and where disclosure of confidential information may be legally required. This discussion should occur as soon as possible in the social worker-client relationship and as needed throughout the course of the relationship.
When social workers provide counseling services to families, couples, or groups, social workers should seek agreement among the parties involved concerning each individual’s right to confidentiality and obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information shared by others. Social workers should inform participants in family, couples, or group counseling that social workers cannot guarantee that all participants will honor such agreements.
Social workers should inform clients involved in family, couples, marital, or group counseling of the social worker’s, employer’s, and agency’s policy concerning the social worker’s disclosure of confidential information among the parties involved in the counseling.
Social workers should not disclose confidential information to third-party payers unless clients have authorized such disclosure.
Social workers should not discuss confidential information in any setting unless privacy can be ensured. Social workers should not discuss confidential information in public or semipublic areas such as hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, and restaurants.
Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients during legal proceedings to the extent permitted by law. When a court of law or other legally authorized body orders social workers to disclose confidential or privileged information without a client’s consent and such disclosure could cause harm to the client, social workers should request that the court withdraw the order or limit the order as narrowly as possible or maintain the records under seal, unavailable for public inspection.
Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients when responding to requests from members of the media.
Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients’ written and electronic records and other sensitive information. Social workers should take reasonable steps to ensure that clients’ records are stored in a secure location and that clients’ records are not available to others who are not authorized to have access.
Social workers should take precautions to ensure and maintain the confidentiality of information transmitted to other parties through the use of computers, electronic mail, facsimile machines, telephones and telephone answering machines, and other electronic or computer technology. Disclosure of identifying information should be avoided whenever possible.
Social workers should transfer or dispose of clients’ records in a manner that protects clients’ confidentiality and is consistent with state statutes governing records and social work licensure.
Social workers should take reasonable precautions to protect client confidentiality in the event of the social worker’s termination of practice, incapacitation, or death.
Social workers should not disclose identifying information when discussing clients for teaching or training purposes unless the client has consented to disclosure of confidential information.
Social workers should not disclose identifying information when discussing clients with consultants unless the client has consented to disclosure of confidential information or there is a compelling need for such disclosure.
Social workers should protect the confidentiality of deceased clients consistent with the preceding standards.
1.08 Access to Records
Social workers should provide clients with reasonable access to records concerning the clients. Social workers who are concerned that clients’ access to their records could cause serious misunderstanding or harm to the client should provide assistance in interpreting the records and consultation with the client regarding the records. Social workers should limit clients’ access to their records, or portions of their records, only in exceptional circumstances when there is compelling evidence that such access would cause serious harm to the client. Both clients’ requests and the rationale for withholding some or all of the record should be documented in clients’ files.
When providing clients with access to their records, social workers should take steps to protect the confidentiality of other individuals identified or discussed in such records.
1.09 Sexual Relationships
Social workers should under no circumstances engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with current clients, whether such contact is consensual or forced.
Social workers should not engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with clients’ relatives or other individuals with whom clients maintain a close personal relationship when there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client. Sexual activity or sexual contact with clients’ relatives or other individuals with whom clients maintain a personal relationship has the potential to be harmful to the client and may make it difficult for the social worker and client to maintain appropriate professional boundaries. Social workers—not their clients, their clients’ relatives, or other individuals with whom the client maintains a personal relationship—assume the full burden for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
Social workers should not engage in sexual activities or sexual contact with former clients because of the potential for harm to the client. If social workers engage in conduct contrary to this prohibition or claim that an exception to this prohibition is warranted because of extraordinary circumstances, it is social workers—not their clients—who assume the full burden of demonstrating that the former client has not been exploited, coerced, or manipulated, intentionally or unintentionally.
Social workers should not provide clinical services to individuals with whom they have had a prior sexual relationship. Providing clinical services to a former sexual partner has the potential to be harmful to the individual and is likely to make it difficult for the social worker and individual to maintain appropriate professional boundaries.
1.10 Physical Contact
Social workers should not engage in physical contact with clients when there is a possibility of psychological harm to the client as a result of the contact (such as cradling or caressing clients). Social workers who engage in appropriate physical contact with clients are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries that govern such physical contact.
1.11 Sexual Harassment
Social workers should not sexually harass clients. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
1.12 Derogatory Language
Social workers should not use derogatory language in their written or verbal communications to or about clients. Social workers should use accurate and respectful language in all communications to and about clients.
1.13 Payment for Services
When setting fees, social workers should ensure that the fees are fair, reasonable, and commensurate with the services performed. Consideration should be given to clients’ ability to pay.
Social workers should avoid accepting goods or services from clients as payment for professional services. Bartering arrangements, particularly involving services, create the potential for conflicts of interest, exploitation, and inappropriate boundaries in social workers’ relationships with clients. Social workers should explore and may participate in bartering only in very limited circumstances when it can be demonstrated that such arrangements are an accepted practice among professionals in the local community, considered to be essential for the provision of services, negotiated without coercion, and entered into at the client’s initiative and with the client’s informed consent. Social workers who accept goods or services from clients as payment for professional services assume the full burden of demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental to the client or the professional relationship.
Social workers should not solicit a private fee or other remuneration for providing services to clients who are entitled to such available services through the social workers’ employer or agency.
1.14 Clients Who Lack Decision-Making Capacity
When social workers act on behalf of clients who lack the capacity to make informed decisions, social workers should take reasonable steps to safeguard the interests and rights of those clients.
1.15 Interruption of Services
Social workers should make reasonable efforts to ensure continuity of services in the event that services are interrupted by factors such as unavailability, relocation, illness, disability, or death.
1.16 Termination of Services
Social workers should terminate services to clients and professional relationships with them when such services and relationships are no longer required or no longer serve the clients’ needs or interests.
Social workers should take reasonable steps to avoid abandoning clients who are still in need of services. Social workers should withdraw services precipitously only under unusual circumstances, giving careful consideration to all factors in the situation and taking care to minimize possible adverse effects. Social workers should assist in making appropriate arrangements for continuation of services when necessary.
Social workers in fee-for-service settings may terminate services to clients who are not paying an overdue balance if the financial contractual arrangements have been made clear to the client, if the client does not pose an imminent danger to self or others, and if the clinical and other consequences of the current nonpayment have been addressed and discussed with the client.
Social workers should not terminate services to pursue a social, financial, or sexual relationship with a client.
Social workers who anticipate the termination or interruption of services to clients should notify clients promptly and seek the transfer, referral, or continuation of services in relation to the clients’ needs and preferences.
Social workers who are leaving an employment setting should inform clients of appropriate options for the continuation of services and of the benefits and risks of the options.
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities To Colleagues
Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and should represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.
Social workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in communications with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence or to individuals’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.
Social workers should cooperate with social work colleagues and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation serves the well-being of clients.
Social workers should respect confidential information shared by colleagues in the course of their professional relationships and transactions. Social workers should ensure that such colleagues understand social workers’ obligation to respect confidentiality and any exceptions related to it.
2.03 Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Social workers who are members of an interdisciplinary team should participate in and contribute to decisions that affect the well-being of clients by drawing on the perspectives, values, and experiences of the social work profession.
Professional and ethical obligations of the interdisciplinary team as a whole and of its individual members should be clearly established.
Social workers for whom a team decision raises ethical concerns should attempt to resolve the disagreement through appropriate channels. If the disagreement cannot be resolved, social workers should pursue other avenues to address their concerns consistent with client well-being.
2.04 Disputes Involving Colleagues
Social workers should not take advantage of a dispute between a colleague and an employer to obtain a position or otherwise advance the social workers’ own interests.
Social workers should not exploit clients in disputes with colleagues or engage clients in any inappropriate discussion of conflicts between social workers and their colleagues.
Social workers should seek the advice and counsel of colleagues whenever such consultation is in the best interests of clients.
Social workers should keep themselves informed about colleagues’ areas of expertise and competencies. Social workers should seek consultation only from colleagues who have demonstrated knowledge, expertise, and competence related to the subject of the consultation.
When consulting with colleagues about clients, social workers should disclose the least amount of information necessary to achieve the purposes of the consultation.
2.06 Referral for Services
Social workers should refer clients to other professionals when the other professionals’ specialized knowledge or expertise is needed to serve clients fully or when social workers believe that they are not being effective or making reasonable progress with clients and that additional service is required.
Social workers who refer clients to other professionals should take appropriate steps to facilitate an orderly transfer of responsibility. Social workers who refer clients to other professionals should disclose, with clients’ consent, all pertinent information to the new service providers.
Social workers are prohibited from giving or receiving payment for a referral when no professional service is provided by the referring social worker.
2.07 Sexual Relationships
Social workers who function as supervisors or educators should not engage in sexual activities or contact with supervisees, students, trainees, or other colleagues over whom they exercise professional authority.
Social workers should avoid engaging in sexual relationships with colleagues when there is potential for a conflict of interest. Social workers who become involved in, or anticipate becoming involved in, a sexual relationship with a colleague have a duty to transfer professional responsibilities, when necessary, to avoid a conflict of interest.
2.08 Sexual Harassment
Social workers should not sexually harass supervisees, students, trainees, or colleagues. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, sexual solicitation, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
2.09 Impairment of Colleagues
Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague’s impairment that is due to personal problems, psychosocial distress, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties and that interferes
with practice effectiveness should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.
Social workers who believe that a social work colleague’s impairment interferes with practice effectiveness and that the colleague has not taken adequate steps to address the impairment should take action through appropriate channels established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, and other professional organizations.
2.10 Incompetence of Colleagues
Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague’s incompetence should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action.
Social workers who believe that a social work colleague is incompetent and has not taken adequate steps to address the incompetence should take action through appropriate channels established by employers, agencies, NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, and other professional organizations.
2.11 Unethical Conduct of Colleagues
Social workers should take adequate measures to discourage, prevent, expose, and correct the unethical conduct of colleagues.
Social workers should be knowledgeable about established policies and procedures for handling concerns about colleagues’ unethical behavior. Social workers should be familiar with national, state, and local procedures for handling ethics complaints. These include policies and procedures created by NASW, licensing and regulatory bodies, employers, agencies, and other professional organizations.
Social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should seek resolution by discussing their concerns with the colleague when feasible and when such discussion is likely to be productive.
When necessary, social workers who believe that a colleague has acted unethically should take action through appropriate formal channels (such as contacting a state licensing board or regulatory body, an NASW committee on inquiry, or other professional ethics committees).
Social workers should defend and assist colleagues who are unjustly charged with unethical conduct.
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities In Practice Settings
3.01 Supervision and Consultation
Social workers who provide supervision or consultation should have the necessary knowledge and skill to supervise or consult appropriately and should do so only within their areas of knowledge and competence.
Social workers who provide supervision or consultation are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
Social workers should not engage in any dual or multiple relationships with supervisees in which there is a risk of exploitation of or potential harm to the supervisee.
Social workers who provide supervision should evaluate supervisees’ performance in a manner that is fair and respectful.
3.02 Education and Training
Social workers who function as educators, field instructors for students, or trainers should provide instruction only within their areas of knowledge and competence and should provide instruction based on the most current information and knowledge available in the profession.
Social workers who function as educators or field instructors for students should evaluate students’ performance in a manner that is fair and respectful.
Social workers who function as educators or field instructors for students should take reasonable steps to ensure that clients are routinely informed when services are being provided by students.
Social workers who function as educators or field instructors for students should not engage in any dual or multiple relationships with students in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the student. Social work educators and field instructors are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries.
3.03 Performance Evaluation
Social workers who have responsibility for evaluating the performance of others should fulfill such responsibility in a fair and considerate manner and on the basis of clearly stated criteria.
3.04 Client Records
Social workers should take reasonable steps to ensure that documentation in records is accurate and reflects the services provided.
Social workers should include sufficient and timely documentation in records to facilitate the delivery of services and to ensure continuity of services provided to clients in the future.
Social workers’ documentation should protect clients’ privacy to the extent that is possible and appropriate and should include only information that is directly relevant to the delivery of services.
Social workers should store records following the termination of services to ensure reasonable future access. Records should be maintained for the number of years required by state statutes or relevant contracts.
Social workers should establish and maintain billing practices that accurately reflect the nature and extent of services provided and that identify who provided the service in the practice setting.
3.06 Client Transfer
When an individual who is receiving services from another agency or colleague contacts a social worker for services, the social worker should carefully consider the client’s needs before agreeing to provide services. To minimize possible confusion and conflict, social workers should discuss with potential clients the nature of the clients’ current relationship with other service providers and the implications, including possible benefits or risks, of entering into a relationship with a new service provider.
If a new client has been served by another agency or colleague, social workers should discuss with the client whether consultation with the previous service provider is in the client’s best interest.
Social work administrators should advocate within and outside their agencies for adequate resources to meet clients’ needs.
Social workers should advocate for resource allocation procedures that are open and fair. When not all clients’ needs can be met, an allocation procedure should be developed that is nondiscriminatory and based on appropriate and consistently applied principles.
Social workers who are administrators should take reasonable steps to ensure that adequate agency or organizational resources are available to provide appropriate staff supervision.
Social work administrators should take reasonable steps to ensure that the working environment for which they are responsible is consistent with and encourages compliance with the NASW Code of Ethics. Social work administrators should take reasonable steps to eliminate any conditions in their organizations that violate, interfere with, or discourage compliance with the Code.
3.08 Continuing Education and Staff Development
Social work administrators and supervisors should take reasonable steps to provide or arrange for continuing education and staff development for all staff for whom they are responsible. Continuing education and staff development should address current knowledge and emerging developments related to social work practice and ethics.
3.09 Commitments to Employers
Social workers generally should adhere to commitments made to employers and employing organizations.
Social workers should work to improve employing agencies’ policies and procedures and the efficiency and effectiveness of their services.
Social workers should take reasonable steps to ensure that employers are aware of social workers’ ethical obligations as set forth in the NASW Code of Ethics and of the implications of those obligations for social work practice.
Social workers should not allow an employing organization’s policies, procedures, regulations, or administrative orders to interfere with their ethical practice of social work. Social workers should take reasonable steps to ensure that their employing organizations’ practices are consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics.
Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate discrimination in the employing organization’s work assignments and in its employment policies and practices.
Social workers should accept employment or arrange student field placements only in organizations that exercise fair personnel practices.
Social workers should be diligent stewards of the resources of their employing organizations, wisely conserving funds where appropriate and never misappropriating funds or using them for unintended purposes.
3.10 Labor-Management Disputes
Social workers may engage in organized action, including the formation of and participation in labor unions, to improve services to clients and working conditions.
The actions of social workers who are involved in labor-management disputes, job actions, or labor strikes should be guided by the profession’s values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. Reasonable differences of opinion exist among social workers concerning their primary obligation as professionals during an actual or threatened labor strike or job action. Social workers should carefully examine relevant issues and their possible impact on clients before deciding on a course of action.
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities As Professionals
Social workers should accept responsibility or employment only on the basis of existing competence or the intention to acquire the necessary competence.
Social workers should strive to become and remain proficient in professional practice and the performance of professional functions. Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work. Social workers should routinely review the professional literature and participate in continuing education relevant to social work practice and social work ethics.
Social workers should base practice on recognized knowledge, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to social work and social work ethics.
Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.
4.03 Private Conduct
Social workers should not permit their private conduct to interfere with their ability to fulfill their professional responsibilities.
4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud, and Deception
Social workers should not participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, or deception.
Social workers should not allow their own personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties to interfere with their professional judgment and performance or to jeopardize the best interests of people for whom they have a professional responsibility.
Social workers whose personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties interfere with their professional judgment and performance should immediately seek consultation and take appropriate remedial action by seeking professional help, making adjustments in workload, terminating practice, or taking any other steps necessary to protect clients and others.
Social workers should make clear distinctions between statements made and actions engaged in as a private individual and as a representative of the social work profession, a professional social work organization, or the social worker’s employing agency.
Social workers who speak on behalf of professional social work organizations should accurately represent the official and authorized positions of the organizations.
Social workers should ensure that their representations to clients, agencies, and the public of professional qualifications, credentials, education, competence, affiliations, services provided, or results to be achieved are accurate. Social workers should claim only those relevant professional credentials they actually possess and take steps to correct any inaccuracies or misrepresentations of their credentials by others.
Social workers should not engage in uninvited solicitation of potential clients who, because of their circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence, manipulation, or coercion.
Social workers should not engage in solicitation of testimonial endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use a client’s prior statement as a testimonial endorsement) from current clients or from other people who, because of their particular circumstances, are vulnerable to undue influence.
4.08 Acknowledging Credit
Social workers should take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed and to which they have contributed.
Social workers should honestly acknowledge the work of and the contributions made by others.
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities To The Social Work Profession
5.01 Integrity of the Profession
Social workers should work toward the maintenance and promotion of high standards of practice.
Social workers should uphold and advance the values, ethics, knowledge, and mission of the profession. Social workers should protect, enhance, and improve the integrity of the profession through appropriate study and research, active discussion, and responsible criticism of the profession.
Social workers should contribute time and professional expertise to activities that promote respect for the value, integrity, and competence of the social work profession. These activities may include teaching, research, consultation, service, legislative testimony, presentations in the community, and participation in their professional organizations.
Social workers should contribute to the knowledge base of social work and share with colleagues their knowledge related to practice, research, and ethics. Social workers should seek to contribute to the profession’s literature and to share their knowledge at professional meetings and conferences.
Social workers should act to prevent the unauthorized and unqualified practice of social work.
5.02 Evaluation and Research
Social workers should monitor and evaluate policies, the implementation of programs, and practice interventions.
Social workers should promote and facilitate evaluation and research to contribute to the development of knowledge.
Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work and fully use evaluation and research evidence in their professional practice.
Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should carefully consider possible consequences and should follow guidelines developed for the protection of evaluation and research participants. Appropriate institutional review boards should be consulted.
Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should obtain voluntary and written informed consent from participants, when appropriate, without any implied or actual deprivation or penalty for refusal to participate; without undue inducement to participate; and with due regard for participants’ well-being, privacy, and dignity. Informed consent should include information about the nature, extent, and duration of the participation requested and disclosure of the risks and benefits of participation in the research.
When evaluation or research participants are incapable of giving informed consent, social workers should provide an appropriate explanation to the participants, obtain the participants’ assent to the extent they are able, and obtain written consent from an appropriate proxy.
Social workers should never design or conduct evaluation or research that does not use consent procedures, such as certain forms of naturalistic observation and archival research, unless rigorous and responsible review of the research has found it to be justified because of its prospective scientific, educational, or applied value and unless equally effective alternative procedures that do not involve waiver of consent are not feasible.
Social workers should inform participants of their right to withdraw from evaluation and research at any time without penalty.
Social workers should take appropriate steps to ensure that participants in evaluation and research have access to appropriate supportive services.
Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should protect participants from unwarranted physical or mental distress, harm, danger, or deprivation.
Social workers engaged in the evaluation of services should discuss collected information only for professional purposes and only with people professionally concerned with this information.
Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should ensure the anonymity or confidentiality of participants and of the data obtained from them. Social workers should inform participants of any limits of confidentiality, the measures that will be taken to ensure confidentiality, and when any records containing research data will be destroyed.
Social workers who report evaluation and research results should protect participants’ confidentiality by omitting identifying information unless proper consent has been obtained authorizing disclosure.
Social workers should report evaluation and research findings accurately. They should not fabricate or falsify results and should take steps to correct any errors later found in published data using standard publication methods.
Social workers engaged in evaluation or research should be alert to and avoid conflicts of interest and dual relationships with participants, should inform participants when a real or potential conflict of interest arises, and should take steps to resolve the issue in a manner that makes participants’ interests primary.
Social workers should educate themselves, their students, and their colleagues about responsible research practices.
Social Workers’ Ethical Responsibilities To The Broader Society
6.01 Social Welfare
Social workers should promote the general welfare of society, from local to global levels, and the development of people, their communities, and their environments. Social workers should advocate for living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs and should promote social, economic, political, and cultural values and institutions that are compatible with the realization of social justice.
6.02 Public Participation
Social workers should facilitate informed participation by the public in shaping social policies and institutions.
6.03 Public Emergencies
Social workers should provide appropriate professional services in public emergencies to the greatest extent possible.
6.04 Social and Political Action
(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.
Social workers should act to expand choice and opportunity for all people, with special regard for vulnerable, disadvantaged, oppressed, and exploited people and groups.
Social workers should promote conditions that encourage respect for cultural and social diversity within the United States and globally. Social workers should promote policies and practices that demonstrate respect for difference, support the expansion of cultural knowledge and resources, advocate for programs and institutions that demonstrate cultural competence, and promote policies that safeguard the rights of and confirm equity and social justice for all people.
Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.
National Association of Social Workers, 750 First Street, NE • Suite 700, Washington, DC 20002-4241.
© 2014 National Association of Social Workers. All Rights Reserve