• “It is difficult to explain ethics, values and
principles of practice in a limited space”.
(Cocks & Adams, 2012;169).
• “Shardlow (2002) makes the important
point that dealing with values is like trying
to hold a slippery fish”.(Thompson, 2006:36).
Warning! Abstract Values ahead!
Why do values matter?
Attention to our values helps us;
• Become more self-aware.
• Make ethical decisions.
• Develop credibility,
• Understanding one's own core values is integral to becoming
self-aware. Self-awareness helps us understand how people
perceive us, it enables us to identify the personal qualities that
we would like to change.
• Values influence our choices, but our choices also influence our
• Codes of ethics promote certain types of professional
behaviour, but also limit or constrain other types of
• When we think of ethical constraints, we may refer to
these as ‘professional boundaries’.
• Having clear professional boundaries requires self-
awareness and being able to differentiate between the
‘personal self’ and the ‘professional self’.
• This can be a demanding and complex process when
working with families, as this role requires authenticity
and intimacy and skill at developing relationships
CDWC Common Induction
Standards (2010) requires;
• Show how you promote the principles and
values essential for work with children, young
people and families
• Understand the importance of promoting
equality and diversity.
• Understand different types of prejudice and
discrimination and how anti-discriminatory
• practice can contribute to the reduction of
• Understand inclusion and inclusive practices
Principles and Values
Trying to Locate codified values?
• It is currently difficult to locate ethical
codes of practice that apply to the general
• However, the historically established
profession of ‘Social Work’ might help us
locate ethical principles:
Foundation of professional values
Biestek (1961) principles;
Recognition of a unique qualities.
Recognises the need for service users to freely
express their true feelings.
Sensitivity to feelings, and understanding of their
Acceptance of the service user for who they are.
Not to assign guilt/innocence or degrees of
service users responsibility for issues.
Freedom of choice in making decisions.
Is a social work practice theory. It
seeks to acknowledge oppression in
societies, economies, cultures &
groups and aiming social work to
remove or negate the influence of the
Thompson (2006:36-9), Naïve Complacency – Practitioners were unaware of
sociological/structural influences. Dogmatic Reductionism – ‘Political corrrectness
of oppression has
swung between two
as a pendulum:
Dilemmas and Making
Decisions in real life
What are applied ethics?
• Applied ethics is distinguished from
normative ethics, which concerns what
people should believe to be right and
• Applied ethics require a decision to be
made in a contentious context.
• Require contexts to be realistic.
Applied Ethical Dilemma 1
• You and a friend are going out for a quiet drink and your
local bar. A great conversation is taking place and you
are really enjoying the night. After a while the waiter gets
involved in your conversation and you discover that he is
a really nice chap.
• After about half an hour a young man of Arab heritage
walks in, sits next to you and your mate, and asks the
bartender for a beer. The bartender promptly refuses to
serve the man based on his race and asks him to leave.
• Do you say/do something? Why? Why not?
Applied Ethical Dilemma 2
• Your best friend has just told you that he is
cheating on his fiancée. Both he and his
fiancée have been friends of yours since
high school. You are angry at your best
friend for what he is doing and want to tell
his fiancée but at the same time you
promised him you wouldn’t. Would you tell
her? Why? Why not?
Applied Ethical Dilemma 3
• You have been given £500 to donate to a
starving family with four children with the
condition that you have to donate 50% of
the money to someone else who is going
to buy drugs with your donation. Would
you still donate?
These Ethical Dilemmas can be
messy and confusing!
Source, Dunk-West, (2013:103), How to be a social worker.
Breaking Down Ethical
Source, Dunk-West, (2013:104), How to be a social worker
(1985) 5 Stage
Adapted from Thompson, (2009:237) People Skills
As each individual is unique, so is their value base they hold.
Values can be challenged, defended or changed
Just because you do not have a strong reaction to an issue does not
mean you do not have a value base.
There may be conflict between personal and professional values and
Ethics is the study of values.
Ethical dilemmas frequently occur in ‘real life’ and require choices to be
Statements of ethical principles; ‘codes of ethics’ (ie Biestek; BASW;
CWDC) may guide practitioners in making consistent ethical decisions.
Most if not all decision making involves considering ‘options’.
Ultimately, one option is selected and other options are rejected, then
• Adams, (2012), Working with children and families
• Banks, S. (2006) Ethics, Accountability and the
Social Professions. London: Palgrave.
• Biestek, F. (1961) The Casework Relationship.
• Cocks & Adams, (2012), in Adams, Working with
children and families.
• Dunk-West, (2013:104), How to be a social worker.
• Thompson, (2006), Teaching and assessing values.
• Thompson, (2009), People skills.