NASW Code of Ethics Updates Include Importance of Self-Care

By Paul R. Pace

The NASW Code of Ethics has been updated to include language that addresses the importance of personal and professional self-care, as well as revisions to standard 1.05, Cultural Competence.

The updates went into effect June 1, and incorporate changes voted on and approved by the NASW Delegate Assembly earlier this year.

To aid social workers in understanding the revisions, NASW offers a free webinar, 2021 Revisions to the NASW Code of Ethics: Self-Care and Cultural Competence.

Participants have the ability to earn 1.5 hours of continuing education credits at a nominal cost.

Terricka Hardy, NASW National Ethics Committee member; Stephanie Asare Nti, former NASW board member; and Dawn Hobdy, vice president of Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion at NASW, presented the webinar. Highlights include Hardy noting that the Code now addresses personal self-care and professional self-care as a prevention to professional impairment and illness.

Practices that can promote personal well-being include exercising, meditating, adult coloring books, and engaging in hobbies. Moreover, a professional self-care list can incorporate professional development, engaging in reflective practice, managing your workload, and time management.

“In terms of self-care revisions that were made, they are aspirational,” Hardy explained. The revisions should not be used to file ethics complaints, she said.

Nti highlighted the revisions to standard 1.05, Cultural Competence. In the previous version of the standard, it was labeled Cultural Awareness and Social Diversity, Nti said. However, the former title failed to encompass all the components of cultural competency.

Cultural awareness, cultural responsiveness, cultural proficiency, cultural sensitivity, social diversity and cultural humility all play an important role in understanding cultural competence, Nti explained.

“Language is so important,” she said. “We have to be intentional about the language that we are using.”

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