What Are Social Work Values?
The following social work values are outlined in the NASW Code of Ethics, which sets forth ideals to which all social workers should
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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 NASW Code of Ethics outlines broad ethical principles, based on social work's core values, that inform social work practice.