Critical Essay on Ethical Issues and Human Rights in the Human Services

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1721 Words
Date:  2022-04-15

Moorhead, B. and Johnson, S. (2010). An Ethical Practice Dilemma Involving a New Social Work Graduate: Implications for Social Work Practice. Practice, 22(1), pp.45-53.

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This paper is a critique of an author's case study on his social work as a new graduate with little experience. The graduate through this experience seeks to develop his code of ethics professionally as well as understand the role of supervision in social work. His task is to balance his work values and code of conduct about another profession and the goals of a client. The new graduate is faced with a dilemma in which his principles and values have to be upheld even when dealing with client situations (Moorhead & Johnson, 2010). In this study, he is faced with a dilemma to determine whether it will be right for the client to rejoin school after a spell out of school. His primary goal is to mitigate the client from harm. The theory that drives the author's actions and thoughts are Kantianism (Sirotkin, 2018). He counsels Marcus a 13-year old who because of severe anxiety had stopped going to school. At present, Marcus' goal is to go back to school eventually. He and the client are regularly asked about when Marcus intends to return to school. The author, therefore, grapples with the rightness or wrongness of Marcus rejoining school as soon as possible as suggested by the psychologist. The framework used in this case study is teleological, the author shows concern regarding the decision making about Marcus' future to rejoin school so soon. He doubts whether it is the right thing to do. There is no doubt in his mind and decision made will be consequential to the client shortly. In this case study, the author decision making is quite satisfying. Given his inexperience as a new graduate, he sorts help from his supervisor knowing this concerns his client's future hence nothing but the best is expected of him.

The author of the case study happens to be in an ethical dilemma. His resolution of the matter is dependent on the professional values and principles to obtain the best course of action for the client's future to avoid any negative consequences that may come as a result of poor decision making. The type of framework he chooses to use to solve this dilemma is known as the consequentialist framework. It focuses on the future impacts of any course of action taken at present; a move that could affect the client either directly or indirectly. Anyone desiring to use the consequentialist framework must aim to achieve the best possible course of action ("A Framework for Making Ethical Decisions | Science and Technology Studies," 2018). This kind of approach focuses on the impact the action has on the several connected people. It is not easy to predict the consequences of specific actions because at times some predictable repercussions produce the opposite of the expected results.

The dilemma presented before the new graduate requires him to follow due process to achieve desired results that prevent any harm from befalling the client. The teleology framework has the author worrying about the consequences of the decisions made at present regarding Marcus' education. Marcus has goals. He intends to go back to school and finish his education. He also wishes to be a writer when he grows up. The author is forced to help Marcus with self-determination as depicted by these ambitions. He has to consider the consequences of any actions taken at present to their effect on Marcus' future goals. Another professional help was invited by a psychologist to assist in Marcus' recovery. The psychologist feels that Marcus could be ready to return to school. Therefore, the family is persuaded to instruct the author as Marcus' counselor to convince him to return to school. However, the author is not convinced that Marcus is ready for such an action. He thinks dragging him back too soon could be consequential, this risks breaking the therapeutic bond. According to him, people ought to act in the best interests of the client. The author has his reservations whether such a decision is Marcus' to make concerning when he should go back to school. The client according to him, must be allowed the freedom to self-determine his course of action for which he shall be held accountable. Therefore, it begs the question whether Marcus is old enough to make such a decision?

As a new graduate in the field of social work, the author admits to his lack of experience. His skills and abilities at this stage are only developing. The author feels the need to act on the values of his social work due to pressure from the psychologist and Marcus' family (Moorhead & Johnson, 2010). The latter could consequentially cause harm to the client. Seeing his level of confusing about his perspective on social work, trying to understand and get a better view of the situation, he decides to console his clinical supervisor. His supervisor acts as a mentor, lending experience and expertise in resolving the situation.

The author presents Kantianism as the central ethical theory. This theory argues whether any decision made was morally formulated. The theory's primary focus is what one ought to do (Sirotkin, 2018). Any judgment made to act in a certain way is confined within the moral rule to achieve a common good. Kantianism theory also reminds us to treat people as ends in themselves and not as a way to an end. It teaches that people must be seen as rational beings that can make decisions in their best interests. This theory of Kantianism is presented in the author's work when he faces the dilemma of making a moral decision about whether it is for the common good that Marcus his client rejoins school ("Kantianism - By Movement / School - The Basics of Philosophy," 2018). There is a slight doubt in his mind that Marcus might not be ready for school. The psychologist and Marcus' family are convinced that it is the right thing to do. They choose to instruct the author to convince Marcus as a means to an end, to return to school. The author understands why the psychologist is hell bent to self-determine what's best for the client. From a medical model, the practitioner is assumed always to know what's best for the client. They are expected to diagnose and prescribe actions taken by the client.

In the case study, the author reflects on the guidance given by his supervisor as well as guidelines provided in the AASW code of ethics. As a member of the AASW, one is expected to comply with its code of ethics to solve certain problems. AASW provides a social worker with the appropriate principles and values to ethically act towards a certain professional goal. Members are expected to show commitment and abide by the given code of ethics. Any unethical conduct is punishable by the stated laws of the organization. The purpose of the code of ethics is to document the guidelines that govern the profession of a social worker. This gives the social worker the much-needed focus on what matters when ethical reflection comes into play to make the right decision. Through the AASW code, social workers fully understand their rights about their colleagues and employers. The author is faced with a contradictory situation about Marcus' situation. The psychologist from a medical point of view adheres to their code of practice where they see it fit to diagnose and prescribe to a client the best course of action. There is a conflict of the code of ethics between these two professions, psychology, and social work. The author's code of conduct requires him to evaluate what action would be best for Marcus. The code of ethics requires the author to enforce self-determination by empowering Marcus to make an informed decision. The author decides to evaluate each principle about how they would affect Marcus. The code of ethics requires the author to try different solution strategies to find what works for the client in different situations. In order to do that, the author decides to consult his supervisor and together they worked out a working formula for Marcus.

The author decides the best course of action is to provide the client with the right information about various alternatives and strategies to make an informed choice. According to him, any effort to dictate Marcus' right to choose would hinder his right to self-determine what happens in his life. The author understands that Marcus has put studies on hold and any amount of persuasion will be refuted. Therefore, his best course of action is to try to understand the client's experience, start from exactly where the client is and devise a working strategy.

In conclusion, this paper depicts a social worker's account of a case study where he faces a dilemma that requires him to apply his knowledge of frameworks and ethical theories to solve the client's situation. The author is an inexperienced graduate who faces numerous challenges, but with the help of his supervisor and a code of ethics to refer to, he is steered in the right direction. The case study also tests our understanding of the various ethical theories and frameworks needed to make informed choices during decision making in social work. In this case, any decision made was based on the best interest of the client and no one else. However young the client could be his self-determination right must never be taken away from him. As a social worker, it is essential to do a lot of research on all aspects that come into consideration when dealing with a client. The author is successful in his actions to ensure he follows his profession's code of ethics entirely. He is a good ambassador for the profession.


A Framework for Making Ethical Decisions | Science and Technology Studies. (2018). Retrieved 3 April 2018, from

Kantianism - By Movement / School - The Basics of Philosophy. (2018). Retrieved 3 April 2018, from

Moorhead, B. and Johnson, S. (2010). An Ethical Practice Dilemma Involving a New Social Work Graduate: Implications for Social Work Practice. Practice, 22(1), pp.45-53.

Sirotkin, R. (2018). Kantianism > Utilitarianism | PH115: Introduction to Ethics. Retrieved 3 April 2018, from

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Critical Essay on Ethical Issues and Human Rights in the Human Services. (2022, Apr 15). Retrieved from

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