Ethical Standard of the Month:
1.06 Conflicts of Interest


Revisions to the “Conflicts of Interest” section resulted in the addition of four new standards, 1.06(e–h). These standards address how social workers’ use of technology and online behavior can create conflicts of interest and emphasize that social workers who communicate using e-mail, text messaging, online chat forums, or social networking sites must be aware that their online personal and professional communications and affiliations can introduce complex and challenging conflicts of interest.


  • Standard 1.06(e) introduces new language that cautions social workers against using technology to communicate with clients for non–work related or personal reasons.
  • Standard 1.06(f) brings attention to the fact that social workers posting personal information on professional Web sites or other social media sites should recognize the possibility that clients will have access to this information. Moreover, social workers’ posts and other online activity could lead to boundary confusion, dual relationships, and potential harm to clients.
  • Standard 1.06(g) alerts social workers to the impact that their personal social media affiliations can have on their professional social work relationships. Particularly, clients may have access to social workers’ online affiliations with social, political, religious, or cultural groups, and this knowledge may have implications for their ability to work effectively with certain clients.
  • Finally, 1.06(h) cautions social workers from accepting requests from clients to connect via social media. The standard reiterates the necessity of not engaging in personal relationships with clients via technology, which result in boundary confusion and potential dual relationships and harm to clients.