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Ethical Empowerment for Social Workers: How the NASW Code of Ethics Guides Us

Here’s the introduction to my book, with the title listed above. I hope to have it published by September 2018. It will be available on Amazon. Please let me know what you think.


This book is a culmination of my experience as a social work instructor of continuing education classes for social workers. I have taught for Eastern Michigan University in their continuing education department for social work for the past five (5) years. In addition, I have presented at many Michigan Chapter – National Association of Social Workers (MI-NASW) conferences over the past fifteen (15) years. I will be teaching my first continuing education class for Michigan State University’s Department of Social Work on October 19, 2018. In addition, I served on the MI – NASW Ethics Committee from 2003 until 2016. All of my workshops/classes have a big ethics component to them utilizing the most recent NASW Code of Ethics.

Currently, I am a in private practice as a social work therapist and ethics consultant. I provide ethics consultations to individual social workers and to clinics. My workshops can be presented at clinics or hospitals as well.

I published many ethics related articles in the MI -NASW newsletter during my time on the ethics committee. In addition, I have published two (2) articles in the past year: When A Child Is Diagnosed with Cancer was published on-line through Social Work Today magazine and High Mileage Questions for Social Workers was published on-line through The New Social Worker magazine.

The topics addressed in this book are the very topics that constitute my workshops. Extensive research has been done on each topic and the content has been developed accordingly. Part I of this book takes a look at subpoenas. What a subpoena is and when and how a social worker should respond is shared. Also shared is how to respond to a request for information that does not come in the form of a court order. A little hint: neither a subpoena nor a request for information is a court order unless it is signed by a Judge. Part II of this book takes a look at informed consent as a legal and ethical concept. Included in this discussion is what should be included in a good informed consent. Part III of this book looks at medical marijuana. This history of this plant is shared as well as the history of it’s prohibition, regulation, and legalization. Finally, in Part IV, many issues around domestic abuse and proper screening and safety planning are discussed. All of the discussions for each part of the book are deeply tied to the most recent NASW Code of Ethics and how it guides us in addressing these issues. Case examples are included in each part of the book to assist in the exploration of the topics. Relevant sections of the Code that help guide us on how to answer the questions posed are include in the discussion. One important goal for this book is to teach you how to use the Code to support the decision you make on a case that is faced with an ethical dilemma. The topics chosen are the most common areas where ethical

The NASW Code of Ethics was revised in 2017 and this new revision of the Code went into effect January 01, 2018. The Code was modified predominantly around issues of technology and its use in communication with and on behalf of clients. In addition, issues of recording sessions via video or audio means is also addressed. Where appropriate, sections of the Code are used in each Part of the book to help the reader gain a better understand of how the Code impacts social work practice in each of these areas. While the Code does not tell us how to respond exactly, the Code does guide us in a way that reasonable minds will likely come to the same conclusions on these topics. The most controversial topic in this area is that of medical marijuana. This is mostly due to the conflicts between State and Federal laws therefore putting social workers in a bit of an ethical quagmire. This is fully discussed in Part III of this book.

Please take note that the discussions contained in this book do not take the place of legal advice on any of the topics. In addition, the information does not negate the need for an individual ethics consultation on the specific facts of the case you are dealing with. This book is simply meant as an introduction to these topics and a way for you to begin to think about them in a social work ethics framework.

Your feedback on this book is greatly appreciated. In addition, it is greatly appreciated if you would submit ethical dilemmas that you would like to be considered for a future edition of this book. Ethical dilemmas can be submitted to the author at Please feel free to also share any other feedback you might have to make the next edition even better.

Thank you for picking up this book. I hope you feel more empowered in how you handle ethical dilemmas as a result of the words on these pages.

May 24, 2018

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