NASW Code of Ethics got an updating this year. You know that.
But do you know what's different? Let's take a look. Take Section
1.03, Informed Consent. It's pretty much the same for a stretch,
then comes these paragraphs. The boldfacing is ours, to give you a
quick sense about what's new.
(e) Social workers should discuss with clients the social
workers' policies concerning the use of technology
in the provision of professional services.
(f) Social workers who use technology to
provide social work services should obtain informed consent from
the individuals using these services during the initial screening
or interview and prior to initiating services. Social workers
should assess clients' capacity to provide informed consent and,
when using technology to communicate, verify the identity and
location of clients.
(g) Social workers who use technology to
provide social work services should assess the clients' suitability
and capacity for electronic and remote services. Social workers
should consider the clients' intellectual, emotional, and physical
ability to use technology to receive services and the clients'
ability to understand the potential benefits, risks, and
limitations of such services. If clients do not wish to use
services provided through technology, social workers should help
them identify alternate methods of service.
(h) Social workers should obtain clients' informed consent
before making audio or video recordings of clients
or permitting observation of service provision by a third
(i) Social workers should obtain client consent before
conducting an electronic search on the client.
Exceptions may arise when the search is for purposes of protecting
the client or other people from serious, foreseeable, and imminent
harm, or for other compelling professional reasons.
Technology, technology, technology, recordings, electronic
search. Social workers are expected to have ethical policies in
place to deal with them all. The details of those policies
are sort of up-for-grabs, though there's plenty elsewhere in the
code to help guide their contents.
The newest piece here is the expectation that social workers get
consent before Googling clients (paragraph i). This is a guideline
ready made for practice test questions. Something like,
A client boasts of once having been profiled in a
popular online journal, but the details are sketchy. The social
worker wants to confirm the client's claim. How should the social
You can imagine the suggested answers. And you know already the
correct course of action.
One section down, many to go!
For questions about the updated NASW Code of Ethics and lots
more, sign up for SWTP practice tests.
Happy studying and good luck with the exam!