Ralph Dolgoff (2012) ethical decision book clearly examines the ethical problems and dilemmas that contribute to a decision making in social work. According to Ralphs (2012) Ethical dilemmas occur in situations in which the social worker must choose between two or more relevant, but contradictory ethical directives or when every alternative results in an undesirable outcome for one or more persons. The major layback for ethical problems in social work practice is well outlined from Ralphs(2012) book in Figure 1.1 where any disagreement that different participants namely e.g. relatives, professionals, landlords, employer, groups, and organizations have concerning alternative decision options or alternative assumptions will intensify the difficulties that social workers will encounter in ethical decision making.
As stated in Figure 1.1, most ethical problems arise when there is a conflict between alternative decision options such as; problem definition, goal setting, priority setting, the decision on means and strategy, desired outcomes and evaluation reporting. These are proposed by participants including client, practitioner, agency, community, profession and society because each makes an alternative assumptions about human nature, values, issues and system levels. THE COSTS OF AUTONOMY AND THE COSTS OF PATERNALISM article in Ralphs (2012) book also helps to identify some ethical dilemmas that Ellen Ashton was faced with about Basanti Madurai, who went to the United States from southern India five years ago and got married to a man who claimed to be an engineer.
Various institutions are involved in the ethical decision making. In the Multiple-Client system areas of the dilemma from the Ellen Ashton situation, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is involved in the decision making where its codes of ethics require that every social worker gives priority to her clients interests and her clients self-determination. Unethical conduct, corruption and scandals in government, corporate and industrial institutions are also being outlined as common places contributing to both ethical and unethical decision making. Ralphs (2012) book clearly indicates the involvement of both the unethical and ethical decisions in the impeachment of President Clinton, industrialists and accountants using ethically questionable and new dilemmas in medical research, the use of drugs in sports and questionable political fundraising methods.
Clients professionals are likewise being reviewed as major contributors to ethical decision making where this book quotes that Almost daily newspapers report unethical practices by corporate executives, legislators, scientific researchers, physicians, lawyers, accountants, and other professionals, and also ethnic courses being conducted in universities, businesses, professional groups and the military as indicated from Afolabis (2014) book. All Government and Industrial Institutions, Corporate, Education, and client professionals should be involved in the ethical decision making. This is related to the fact that they are related and involved to this problem. Special organizations that educate and help to provide ethical decision making solutions should also be among the key and top volunteers to be involved.
Ralphs (2012) book clearly identifies relevant values that are held by ethical problems, institutions, clients profession and victims. One of these relevant values is competing for values where an ethical dilemma may arise when a practitioner is a feed with two or more competing values such as justice and equality or confidentiality and protecting life. The second relevant value is competing for loyalties when competing, or conflicting groups make claims for the social workers loyalties, the worker may face an ethical dilemma. One of the identified goals and objectives in this book that may solve this problem is goal setting that is based on who should set the goals to help reduce the ethical decision problem e.g. if you comply with your supervisors demand, you and your supervisors determine Blancas future while also undermining the sense of autonomy.
Values, morality, and professional ethics can be identified as alternative intervention strategies to select and help implement the most appropriate strategy to the ethical decision making problem. Ralphs (2012) book indicates that most social workers fail to clearly differentiate the differences between values, ethics and morality. They use them rather loosely as if they all have the same meaning. The book continues to state that values are not virtues and virtues are not the same as ethics. Most social scientists have used the term value as if it meant being interested and curious about something rather than holding to the right definition. As per this book's definition morality consists of principals or rules of conduct that define standards for right behavior. These rules are neither enacted nor revoked by a legislature but are accepted and changed by consensus and help define the relationships among the members of society.
However about morality, most social workers are increasingly being confronted by a diversity of values and moralities that are practiced in the societies where less and less consensus about what is the proper moral stance. Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) are playing a key role in helping to implement appropriate strategies to control ethic decision making by providing an education program to help deliver specific knowledge about social work ethics as reviewed in Afolabis (2014) book. The main aim of this being to help assist students to develop awareness of their values; developing, demonstrating, and promoting the values of the profession and analyzing ethical dilemmas and the ways they affect services and clients. This also helps the students understand and appreciate human diversity which are the first key steps to correct professional activity thus knowledge and appreciation of race, color, gender, age, creed, ethnic, political orientation and sexual orientation importance to professional purposes and helps many social workers to raise their values on dilemmas for both themselves and for their clients.
Professional ethics is a major factor in this book that greatly helps to implement and monitor ethical decision making problems. The professional ethics provides the necessary and required guidance that helps to enable a social worker to transform professional values into professional practice. This helps codes of professional ethics identify and describe the ethical behavior expected of professional practitioners. This book outlines that professional and societal ethics stress on the principal of equality. The law and ethics are also among the key and most appropriate strategies to help monitor problems, identify unauthorized consequences and evaluate the results to ethical decision making in social work practice as indicated in Dolgofs (2012) book.
Ralphs (2012) book explains about Congress, and all state legislatures have passed a large number of laws that affect social work practice and the same time, various states and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have handled down some decisions that are of critical importance for social workers. However, good intentions and ignorance of the law have made unacceptable excuses to possible litigation for malpractice but may also contribute to unprofessional and unethical practices. The law is more effective since they are enforced by the police power of the state to people who go against them. This book states that no matter how the law is defined, the law is of direct and immediate concern to social workers. It also indicates examples of the laws applied to help protect the social workers and aid them in their ethical decision making e.g. laws requiring social workers to report certain information to designated government agencies.
In conclusion, the use of values, morality, professional ethics and the law are among the best strategies, procedures, alternative strategies and targets that will help monitor, implement and identify decision making problems that are related to social work practice as reviewed in Ralphs (2012) book.
Afolabi, O. E. (2014). Dual Relationships and Boundary crossing. A Critical Issues in Clinical Psychology Practice. Munich: GRIN Verlag GmbH.
Dolgoff, R. (2012). Ethical decisions for social work practice. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
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