4. Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities as Professionals
NASW Code of Ethics: Ethical Standards
(a) Social workers should accept responsibility or employment only
on the basis of existing competence or the intention to acquire the
(b) Social workers should strive to become and remain proficient in
professional practice and the performance of professional functions.
Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging
knowledge relevant to social work. Social workers should routinely
review the professional literature and participate in continuing education
relevant to social work practice and social work ethics.
(c) Social workers should base practice on recognized knowledge,
including empirically based knowledge, relevant to social work and
social work ethics.
Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate
with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national
origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age,
marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or
4.03 Private Conduct
Social workers should not permit their private conduct to interfere with
their ability to fulfill their professional responsibilities.
4.04 Dishonesty, Fraud, and Deception
Social workers should not participate in, condone, or be associated with
dishonesty, fraud, or deception.
(a) Social workers should not allow their own personal problems,
psychosocial distress, legal problems, substance abuse, or mental health
difficulties to interfere with their professional judgment and performance
or to jeopardize the best interests of people for whom they have a
(b) Social workers whose personal problems, psychosocial distress, legal
problems, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties interfere with
their professional judgment and performance should immediately seek
consultation and take appropriate remedial action by seeking professional
help, making adjustments in workload, terminating practice, or taking
any other steps necessary to protect clients and others.
(a) Social workers should make clear distinctions between statements made
and actions engaged in as a private individual and as a representative of
the social work profession, a professional social work organization, or
the social worker’s employing agency.
(b) Social workers who speak on behalf of professional social work
organizations should accurately represent the official and authorized
positions of these organizations.
(c) Social workers should ensure that their representations to clients,
agencies, and the public of professional qualifications, credentials,
education, competence, affiliations, services provided, or results to be
achieved are accurate. Social workers should claim only those relevant
professional credentials they actually possess and take steps to correct
any inaccuracies or misrepresentations of their credentials by others.
(a) Social workers should not engage in uninvited solicitation of potential
clients who, because of their circumstances, are vulnerable to undue
influence, manipulation, or coercion.
(b) Social workers should not engage in solicitation of testimonial
endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use a client’s prior
statement as a testimonial endorsement) from current clients or from other
people who, because of their particular circumstances, are vulnerable to
4.08 Acknowledging Credit
(a) Social workers should take responsibility and credit, including
authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed and to
which they have contributed.
(b) Social workers should honestly acknowledge the work of and the
contributions made by others.