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Ethical Decision Making for Social Workers

Ethical decision making is a very important part of social work. Ethical dilemmas can come up in myriad situations, such as those which involve: personal relationships with current and former clients; client refusal of services; cultural sensitivity issues; end of life decision making; and privacy protection in counseling and research study design. Social welfare students have a number of resources to help them research ethical decision making in a social work environment.

The National Association of Social Workers has published a Code of Ethics, and the International Federation of Social Workers also has an Ethics Document which provide guidelines for ethical decision making.

The database Social Work Abstracts has a number of articles on this topic. To locate the database, go to the library's Database Finder and click on the letter "S" at the bottom of the page. Use keyword searches such as ethics, or more precisely “ethical dilemmas,��? or “ethical decision making.��?

In addition the Libraries have a number of recently published books which students of social work ethics may find useful:

Banks, Sarah. (2006) Ethics and values in social work. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Dewey Library / HV 10.5 B335X 2006

Guttmann, David. (2006) Ethics in social work : a context of caring. New York: Haworth Press.
Dewey Library / HV 40 G98 2006

Reamer, Frederic G. (2006) Social work values and ethics. New York: Columbia University Press.
Dewey Library / HV 10.5 R427 2006

International Federation of Social Workers. (2007) International definition of the social work profession; Ethics in social work, statement of principles; Global standards for the education and training of the social work profession. Berne, Switzerland: International Federation of Social Workers.
Dewey Library / HV 40 I548X 2007

And, Coming Soon:
Gambrill, Eileen, ed. (2009)Social work ethics. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Dewey Library/ On Order

If you have any questions about researching ethics from a social welfare perspective, please contact Social Welfare Bibliographer Elaine Bergman (phone: 442-3695, email: ebergman@uamail.albany.edu), or stop by the Reference Desk.