Social workers are governed by a national code of ethics and by the Texas Administrative Code.
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 Texas Administrative Code is as follows:
(a) A social worker must observe and comply with the code of conduct and standards of practice set forth in this subchapter. Any violation of the code of conduct or standards of practice will constitute unethical conduct or conduct that discredits or tends to discredit the profession of social work and is grounds for disciplinary action.
(1) A social worker shall not refuse to perform any act or service for which the person is licensed solely on the basis of a client's age; gender; race; color; religion; national origin; disability; sexual orientation; gender identity and expression; or political affiliation.
(2) A social worker shall truthfully report her or his services, professional credentials and qualifications to clients or potential clients. A social worker shall not advertise or claim a degree from a college or university which is not accredited by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.
(3) A social worker shall only offer those services that are within his or her professional competency, and shall provide services within accepted professional standards of practice, appropriate to the client's needs.
(4) A social worker shall strive to maintain and improve her or his professional knowledge, skills and abilities.
(5) A social worker shall base all services on an assessment, evaluation or diagnosis of the client.
(6) A social worker shall provide the client with a clear description of services, schedules, fees and billing at the initiation of services.
(7) A social worker shall safeguard the client's rights to confidentiality within the limits of the law.
(8) A social worker shall be responsible for setting and maintaining professional boundaries.
(9) A social worker shall not have sexual contact with a client or a person who has been a client.
(10) A social worker shall refrain from providing services while impaired by physical health, mental health, medical condition, or by medication, drugs or alcohol.
(11) A social worker shall not exploit his or her position of trust with a client or former client.
(12) A social worker shall evaluate a client's progress on a continuing basis to guide service delivery and will make use of supervision and consultation as indicated by the client's needs.
(13) A social worker shall refer a client for those services that the social worker is unable to meet, and shall terminate services to a client when continuing to provide services is no longer in the client's best interest.
(b) The grounds for disciplinary action of a social worker shall be based on the code of conduct or standards of practice in effect at the time of the violation.