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Ethical Dilemma in Social Work Practice

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Social work practice is known to have many ethical problems enticed with the process of its application due mainly to the fact that its nature involves people and communal sectors. Most of the ethical problems in the social work practice involve the relationship of the social worker and the people in the community from either a rural or an urban location.

Due to the alarming nature of this ethical problem in social work, many scientific and social studies and researches have been conducted to study the nature of the said problem and determined its primary causes. Some of which are the studies conducted by Daley and Doughty (2006), Perkins and company (1998), and Reamer (2003) that all concluded that the main issue regarding the ethical dilemma in social work is the conservative and confidential observance of the ethical boundaries in social work practice.

According to these authors, the said ethical problem is both present whether the practice was conducted in a rural or an urban area, thus location is not actually the factor but social norms and attitudes are. Another is the studies conducted by Helbok (2003) and Green, which further examine the nature of the said ethical problems and its possible threats to the professionalism attitudes and idealistic principles of social work practice mainly in places located in the rural sector.

Thus, the standing of the moral and ethical conduct in social work practice is indeed being threatened by the surging influential and alarming ethical problems. Because of which, the community of social workers must address this problem promptly to avoid further aggravation of it and prevent it from seeping into the social work principles hindering the quality of service their community is providing for the benefit and welfare of the common public.


Daley, Michael R. & Doughty, Michael O. (2006). Ethics Complaints in Social Work Practice: A Rural–Urban Comparison. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, Volume 3, Number 2. White Hat Communications.
Green, Rosemary (2003). Social Work in Rural Areas: A Personal and Professional Challenge. Australian Social Work. Volume 56 Page 209.
Helbok, Craig M. (2003). The Practice of Psychology in Rural Communities: Potential Ethical Dilemmas. Ethics & Behavior, Vol. 13, No. 4, Pages 367-384.
Perkins, David V. & Hudson, Brenda L. & Gray, Diana M. & Stewart, Mary (1998). Decisions and Justifications by Community Mental Health Providers about Hypothetical Ethical Dilemmas. Psychiatry Services 49:1317-1322. American Psychiatric Association.
Reamer, Frederic G. (2003). Boundary Issues in Social Work: Managing Dual Relationships. Social Work. Volume 48.

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