Tell us the complete story and how you handled it and identify which social work code/ethic or value or law it is related to and use at least one professional reference

Words: 918
Pages: 4
Subject: Ethnicity Studies

please follow the instructions and check all the uploaded class materials. PROMPT Write about an ethical dilemma you have faced in a professional setting (any type of professional/school setting if not as a social worker). Tell us the complete story and how you handled it and identify which social work code/ethic or value or law it is related to and use at least one professional reference. GUIDELINES Your initial response should be at least 200-300 words in length, reflecting on the prompt above. Include a professional journal reference regarding the ethical issue identified.


Ethical dilemmas are an inevitable part of any professional career, often requiring individuals to navigate complex situations that challenge their values and ethical principles. In this paper, I will recount an ethical dilemma I encountered in my role as a social worker and discuss how I handled it, drawing upon relevant social work codes of ethics and values. I will also incorporate a professional journal reference to shed light on the ethical issue at hand.

The Ethical Dilemma

In my capacity as a social worker at a local community mental health center, I once faced a profound ethical dilemma. A client, whom I’ll refer to as “Sarah,” had been receiving therapy for several months to address her severe anxiety and depression. During one of our sessions, Sarah confided in me that she was struggling with substance abuse and had recently started using illicit drugs to cope with her emotional pain. She implored me not to disclose this information to anyone, particularly not to the clinic’s management or her family.

Ethical Considerations

This situation raised significant ethical considerations, primarily related to two key social work values and codes of ethics: confidentiality and the duty to protect. The NASW Code of Ethics (2017) underscores the importance of safeguarding clients’ confidentiality and respecting their privacy. Simultaneously, it also emphasizes the duty to protect clients from harm. In Sarah’s case, her substance abuse posed a clear threat to her well-being.

Handling the Ethical Dilemma

To navigate this ethical quagmire, I first assured Sarah that I respected her trust and confidentiality. However, I also explained the limits of confidentiality in cases where there is an imminent risk of harm to oneself or others. I empathetically conveyed my concern for her safety and well-being, emphasizing that my primary duty was to ensure her welfare.

I then collaborated with Sarah to develop a safety plan, which included connecting her with a substance abuse counselor within our clinic and involving her family in her treatment journey with her consent. While this decision strained our therapeutic relationship momentarily, it ultimately enabled Sarah to receive the comprehensive care she needed to address both her mental health issues and substance abuse problem.

Professional Reference

To further illuminate the ethical issue at hand, I refer to a professional journal article by Reamer (2019) titled “Ethical Dilemmas in Social Work Practice.” This article underscores the complexity of ethical dilemmas in social work, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach that upholds client confidentiality while safeguarding their well-being.


This ethical dilemma tested my commitment to social work values and principles, particularly confidentiality and the duty to protect. By handling the situation with empathy, transparency, and a client-centered approach, I was able to strike a balance that aligned with these values. This experience reinforced the importance of ethical awareness and thoughtful decision-making in the field of social work, ensuring the welfare of clients while upholding their rights and dignity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) – Ethical Dilemmas in a Professional Setting

  1. What is an ethical dilemma in a professional setting?

    An ethical dilemma in a professional setting refers to a situation where individuals are faced with conflicting moral principles or values, making it challenging to determine the right course of action.

  2. Can you provide an example of an ethical dilemma in a social work context?

    Certainly. One example is when a social worker learns about a client’s substance abuse problem but is bound by confidentiality, raising questions about whether to disclose this information to ensure the client’s safety.

  3. What social work values and ethics were relevant in handling the described ethical dilemma?

    In this case, the two key social work values and codes of ethics that were relevant are:

    • Confidentiality: Upholding the client’s right to privacy and safeguarding their personal information.
    • Duty to Protect: Ensuring the well-being and safety of clients, especially when they are at risk of harm.
  4. How was the ethical dilemma handled in the described scenario?

    The social worker in the scenario assured the client of respecting confidentiality while explaining the limits of confidentiality when there is an imminent risk of harm. A safety plan was developed, including connecting the client with a substance abuse counselor and involving her family with her consent.

  5. Why is it essential to involve the client in decision-making in such cases?

    Involving the client in decision-making respects their autonomy and upholds the principle of self-determination, which is a core value in social work practice.

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