Paper on Navigating Ethical Dilemmas in Social Work: A Comprehensive Analysis and Intervention Approach

Published: 2023-12-31
Paper on Navigating Ethical Dilemmas in Social Work: A Comprehensive Analysis and Intervention Approach
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Social work Ethical dilemma
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1533 words
13 min read

Identify and Discuss the Ethical Dilemma

In this case, the ethical dilemma is a personal bias that is very common among social workers (Scarnato, 2020). It is identified as a social work challenge caused by various factors. In this case, it is caused by the agency protocols and the social worker's unique life circumstances beyond their control. The life circumstance is identified as being developmentally disabled, accompanied by an IQ of 75. She faces a personal bias ethical dilemma because the group home administrators have restricted her privileges based on certain stereotypes. These restrictions arise from her recent decision to seek a child. According to their perspective, they are yet to assert that she can raise the child. Furthermore, they have stood to question her decision-making capabilities based on her condition. This decision constitutes a personal bias that is anchored on stereotypes instituted on developmentally challenged people.

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Figueroa faces a severe ethical dilemma whereby her values are cast against the beliefs of the organization. According to her perspective, she has decided to have a child, owing to her age. It will be inconsiderate to challenge the decision. The ethical dilemma also constitutes a personal bias because it relates to her cultural background and the context within which she was raised (Scarnato, 2020). Having grown up in the group home, it is evident that she is endeared to the cultural environment in this setting alongside social and environmental factors in the same location. Thus, she faces a massive task in navigating between her individual needs and values at the expense of the administrators' decision at the group home.

Evaluation of Personal Biases and Stereotypes

To address the social challenge, Figueroa will have to carefully identify and examine the biases related to her social work situation. Implicit bias mainly constitutes specific unconscious associations, attitudes, or beliefs toward a given social group (Cherry, 2020). These biases often influence people to attribute certain qualities or traits to every member of a particular social group. Such a phenomenon is called stereotyping. Analyzing these biases and stereotypes requires one to understand that they mostly operate on an unconscious level and, in most cases, require more significant interventions to control them.

The primary triggers for implicit biases and stereotypes include seeking patterns, taking into account one’s experiences and social conditioning, and the shared human attribute of taking shortcuts (Cherry, 2020). This tendency to seek patterns fuels implicit bias. The bias arises because human social cognition makes individuals store and process certain information to make associations. Such associations formulate stereotypes that can either be wrong or right. My intervention in addressing such a scenario includes performing various behavioral practices that serve to reduce bias. Such methods include focusing on people as individuals, taking some time to pause and reflect, adjusting my perspective, and working on ways to change my stereotypes continually.

Other interventions include increasing my level of exposure and practicing mindfulness. These practices will enable me to avoid over-generalizing individuals and perceiving everyone personally rather than the standard way of applying general characteristics to groups of people (Cherry, 2020). By doing so, I will be able to handle Figueroa’s situation more appropriately and on a personal level. They will also enable me to incorporate her secret desires in decision-making and consequently make interventions that auger well with her situation rather than the social group as a whole.

Legal Mandates Applicable in this Case

Implicit bias within the legal context is generally regarded as unconscious, pervasive, and considerably beyond one's control (Selmi, 2017). This definition contradicts the prevailing legal standards of proof. The existing traditional standards rely on an individual’s ability to control their behavior. Many scholars have highlighted that the legal system struggles to address implicit bias. Still, the recent escalation in unconscious bias levels necessitates the need for proper legal frameworks addressing the issue (Selmi, 2017). In this case, the primary intervention will be redefining implicit bias since all instances of discrimination are regarded to have originated from implicit bias, even when this characterization somehow seems not to fit the scenario. Thus, implicit bias will explain some of the discriminatory practices experienced in the present day, but it does not apply to all cases.

The above distinction provides a leeway to fix litigation in various complicated instances, such as Figueroa’s case. Consequently, designating contemporary discrimination as unconscious and beyond an individual's control is inaccurate and makes it difficult to prove such bias (Selmi, 2017). For instance, studies in social psychology have demonstrated that implicit bias can be controlled in various ways. This attribute renders the decision not unconscious, contrary to the typical use of the term. Such a definition is applicable in Figueroa’s case since it involves an institution rather than an individual. Thus, the whole decision-making process is influenced by several other factors that are not unconscious and can be subjected to legal interpretation.

Bearing in mind that Figueroa’s privileges have been limited because of the mere fact that she is developmentally disabled, various legal interventions apply in such a scenario. Research indicates that the need to recognize individuals with disabilities as sexually active is a new intervention within the scientific community (Perlin & Lynch, 2014). This discovery accounts for confusion and a lack of accurate information about this area of law and policy. Despite the magnanimity of the disparities, the underlying factor is that people with disabilities also have intimate desires just like any other individual. This interpretation can be perfectly crafted into Figueroa’s case since the stalemate arises from the same fundamental human desires. Thus, this interpretation's legality points to the assertion that she should be accorded the rights to her wants and needs just like anyone else.

In addition to the above legal narrative, it is less imperative to impose restrictions on her, yet she stands to face her actions' benefits or consequences. Disability law also becomes limited when applied to institutionalized individuals since it mainly focuses on sanism. Critical analysis indicates that sanism is merely an irrational prejudice similar to the other stereotypes deployed in venerating other social evils and permeates other aspects of mental disability law (Perlin & Lynch, 2014). Disambiguation of the sanest myths based on stereotypes shows that they arise from rigid overgeneralization and individual categorization.

These interventions' primary function is localizing anxiety to provide proof that the fears do not lie within, preferably on a set of predefined external factors. More often than not, developmentally disabled individuals lack human qualities such as dignified ways of showing affection (Perlin & Lynch, 2014). This is precisely the case in Figueroa’s narrative. A proper application of the legal factors discussed thereof indicates that she should be accorded the liberty to make her decisions and partake in activities that suit her interests just the same way she can participate in social work.

Personalized Intervention

In this case, my personalized intervention will entail analyzing all the factors at stake, including the gains and consequences, so that the client can make an informed decision. Therefore, I will let her answer a series of formal questions to estimate the actual context of the issues at hand. Some of the items will revolve around the key players involved, alternatives that can be taken into consideration, and the social work values that are conflicting (Murphy, 1997). The specified analysis will include weighing the group home's provisions in terms of the privileges, analysis of the underlying reasons behind their decisions, and casting them against personal factors.

Evaluation of the Intervention’s Effectiveness

I will conduct a needs assessment as an effective procedure for evaluating the intervention (Begun, 2020). This evaluation will answer questions related to the scope of a problem, mainly where ethical dilemmas such as the one in question exist. Sample questions to guide the analysis will revolve around the transformations in the client’s perceptions of the issue, positive attributes associated with the intervention, the extent to which principles of diversity are integrated into the practice, and others' availability measures to address the same problem.


Begun, A. (2020). Social Work, 3402, Coursebook. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Cherry, K. (2020). Is It Possible to Overcome Implicit Bias? Verywell Mind. Retrieved 30 September 2020, from

Edwards, B., & Addae, R. (2015). Ethical Decision-Making Models in Resolving Ethical Dilemmas in Rural Practice: Implications for Social Work Practice and Education. Journal Of Social Work Values And Ethics, 12(1), 88-92. Retrieved 30 September 2020, from

Murphy, K. (1997). Resolving Ethical Dilemmas - National Association of Social Workers. Retrieved 30 September 2020, from

Perlin, M., & Lynch, A. (2014). ‘All His Sexless Patients’: Persons with Mental Disabilities and the Competence to Have Sex. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Scarnato, J. (2020). Social Work Challenges Series: Personal Bias. MSW Careers. Retrieved 30 September 2020, from

Selmi, M. (2017). The Paradox of Implicit Bias and a Plea for a New Narr x of Implicit Bias and a Plea for a New Narrative (pp. 1-42). George Washington University Law School. Retrieved from

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