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Code of Ethics

The NASW Code of Ethics is a set of standards that guide the professional conduct of social workers. The 2021 update includes language that addresses the importance of professional self-care.  Moreover, revisions to Cultural Competence standard provide more explicit guidance to social workers. All social workers should review the new text and affirm their commitment to abide by the Code of Ethics. Also available in Spanish.

The NASW Code of Ethics offers a set of values, principles and standards to guide decision-making and everyday professional conduct of social workers. It is relevant to all social workers and social work students regardless of their specific functions or settings.

Read the Code of Ethics

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Code of Ethics History

NASW’s Delegate Assembly approved the first edition of the NASW Code of Ethics on October 13, 1960. Since then, the Code has emerged as the standard bearer for defining the values and principles that guide social workers’ conduct in all practice areas.

Learn how the Code of Ethics has evolved over time

The Code of Ethics after 55 years remains the principal tool in making a difference in a client’s life. It empowers us with the strength to advocate for the oppressed and emboldens us with the courage to speak for the voiceless. Sherry Saturno, LCSW, DCSW
The Code of Ethics has been that guide and reinforcement for me that if I follow it then, yes I am doing what I am called to do as a social worker and doing it in a manner that it was intended. Tricia Cubitt, LCSW
Each day I strive to be a better person because of the Code of Ethics. I continuously am doing community service because I believe it makes the world a better place one step at a time. Baliegh Jene Cannistraci, BSW