The expression of social workers professional values in practice

Violeta Ivanauskienė, Laura Varžinskienė

Abstract


Values are one of the main parts of competence in social work. This area is very important as social workers work with the most vulnerable members of the society and the quality of social workers practice, his/her honesty, personal and professional values may be crucial for his/her client’s further life and the quality of his/her life.
The purpose of this article is to define the expression of social workers’ values in the social work practice.
The main values in social work are those that have something in common with the dignity and worth of a person. Social workers work with people having multiple problems and often face the most vulnerable sides of their clients. So the importance of humanitarian values becomes evident: inebriate, poverty-stricken, dirty, irrationally thinking, not communicating person is still a human being and that makes him valuable. Professional values of social work acknowledge both strong and weak sides of a person.
Social worker must pay attention both to the values of the society, client and his/her personal values. He/she cannot perform his/her job well if he/she ignores personal values and principles. The act of ignoring may influence emotional and psychological feeling of social worker and that may affect social worker’s duties. Taking into consideration his/her personal values, professional cannot forget about value differences and has to accept people with different personal values.
In 2006 a quantitative descriptive research was performed at Vytautaas Magnus University that analyzed social work values in the context of social workers’ competence. Social workers-practitioners, working in social service agencies in Kaunas region participated in the qualification courses at VMU. 57 of 70 social workers, who participated in the courses filled in the questionnaires.
The research faced several limitations. It was performed after the qualification courses, during which they obtained fresh knowledge about social work. That might have caused a systematic mistake, when the respondents might have pointed out not what they really do in practice, but how it should be like or how respondents think it should be.
The research revealed several aspects of social workers’ professional values:
1. Values in social work direct and guide social workers/ everyday practice so they should be properly internalized and applied in practice.
2. Social work practice of social workers-practitioners who do not have socials work education is based on values (professional and personal).
3. The respondents acknowledge social work values as important and urgent for social work practice and for the helping process for the clients.

Keywords


social work; social work values; code of ethics of social work

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"Social Work" ISSN online 2029-2775 / ISSN print 1648-4789