Ethics committee discusses national review process

The NASW National Ethics Committee held its annual in-person meeting in February, where committee members discussed the implementation of a national professional review process. The process was put into place March 1.

In order to integrate the review process at a national level — which was previously done at the chapter level — the committee discussed training and finalizing policies and procedures as they relate to the new format, said Dawn Hobdy, director of the NASW Office of Ethics and Professional Review.

“Prior to March, cases were submitted locally to the respective chapters. However, sometimes there can be difficulty at the chapter level with going through the procedures due to lack of staff, or familiarity with the process,” Hobdy said. “The NASW national office will now take on the cases, from start to finish, and chapters have the option to participate in the process if they choose.”

NASW’s professional review addresses unethical conduct made by NASW members in violation of the NASW Code of Ethics. Through the process, complaints are submitted for review. The National Ethics Committee reviews each case, investigates the situation to get all information necessary and decides on a plan for corrective actions.

Hobdy said the corrective measures can include either a mediation process, where the person who filed the complaint and the NASW member in question come together to discuss the situation; or an adjunction process, where a panel of NASW members reviews the case.

Violations of the Code of Ethics can include an NASW member having a relationship with a client outside of the office, compromising a client’s confidentiality, and using social media to try to connect personally with clients.

Having the review conducted at the national level helps keep the process consistent and relieves some pressure from the chapters, Hobdy said.

“We get about 40 inquiries a year through the professional review process, and about 25 result in actual complaints,” she said. “The process is confidential, and by doing this nationally we have the opportunity to maintain a consistent, efficient measure when dealing with these cases.”

If a consumer or social worker suspects that a member has violated the Code of Ethics, they can confidentially submit a complaint for review.

Get more information on the NASW national professional review process.