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Social Worker’s Ethical Dilemma of Confidentiality

Cheryl’s family comes to me, as they face difficulties while communicating with her after a brain injury (Hutchison, 2011). Seeing that they are confused and do not know how to act in the current situation I want to help them, but it is inadmissible to talk about Cheryl’s case even to her relatives, as she did not allow me. That is why all the decisions I make are to be carried out based on the NASW Code of Ethics so that no violations that entail adverse consequences occur (DiFranks, 2008).

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Of course, according to it, I cannot disclose the details of her case without permission (Code of ethics, 2008). Still, as the relatives find the situation not just complicated but also life-threatening, the talk is to take place. First of all, as a social worker, I am to remember the family’s involvement. As they are seeking help, I can have a conversation with them without discussing confidential information. They already have particular issues, so I can give them some tips on how to resolve them.

Thus, I can explain to them that she is still the person they used to know and that the changes in her behavior can reduce soon. I may also advise them how to calm down a person, Cheryl, in particular. I am to evaluate their words and find out if my client can hurt her ex-boyfriend and his future fiancé. In this case, I am to talk with Cheryl about her feelings without mentioning the conversation with her relatives when it is not needed.

If I realize that she fails to interpret the situation in the right way, for example, believes that she is still dating Sean and is anxious, I will have to influence her decisions. According to the code of ethics, I will limit her “right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others” (Code of ethics of the national association of social workers, 2008, p. 5).

Realizing that Cheryl is not able to make a decent assessment of the situation, I will explain to her that her boyfriend does not want to continue their relationship and that military service is not the best occupation for her. Such influence is allowed by the code of ethics, as it will protect the client. Having problems with the perception of reality and being extremely hot-tempered, Cheryl is likely to be hurt or hurt someone else when returning to active duty. It is important to explain to her that she may do this accidentally, so it is better to get back in the swing completely.

For other issues not to occur, I am to explain to the client that she can rely on her family and their advice (Comartin & González-Prendes, 2011). I can also recommend some activities that are likely to appeal to her. Being occupied, Cheryl will express herself in work and be less aggressive. She can also meet new people there who will help her to forget Sean. I may ask her to refer to another professional for consultation, as she might need more serious treatment. Only in this way I can manage my primary duties and help people. Playing it safe I will be sure that my client is supported, will not be hurt herself, or hurt someone else.


Code of ethics. (2008). Web.

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Code of ethics of the national association of social workers. (2008). Web.

Comartin, E. &González-Prendes, A. (2011). Dissonance between personal and professional values: Resolution of an ethical dilemma. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 8(2), 5-10.

DiFranks, N. (2008). Social workers and the NASW code of ethics: Belief, behavior, disjuncture. Social Work, 53(2), 167-176.

Hutchison, E. (2011). Dimensions of human behavior: Person in environment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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