There's no section
in the NASW Code of Ethics that you can just shrug off as
you're practicing social work and/or preparing for the social work
licensing exam. Everything's there for a reason. Just imagine the
long hours of committee meetings that must've been logged to come
to an agreement on the entire code and all the wording in it. Rule
of thumb: if it's in the code, it's fair game for the exam.
So, continuing our random jump in and around the code, here's
section 4.07, Solicitations,
part of "Social Workers' Ethical Responsibilities as
Professionals." Here's how it goes:
(a) Social workers should not engage in uninvited solicitation
of potential clients who, because of their circumstances, are
vulnerable to undue influence, manipulation or coercion.
(b) Social workers should not engage in solicitation of
testimonial endorsements (including solicitation of consent to use
a client's prior statement as a testimonial endorsement) from
current clients or other persons who, because of their particular
circumstances are vulnerable to undue influence.
Simple enough. So what might a question on the licensing exam
invoking this section look like? How about this?:
At a final session before the holidays, a client thanks
a social worker for helping her manage problems with work, family,
and in her relationship. She says she wants to post a positive
review of the therapist on Yelp and elsewhere. What is the MOST
ethical way for the social worker to respond?
Pause here to consider what the likely answers would be and what
the correct answer might look like. Since you just read the section
of the code addressing this, you're probably all set to answer.
Responses might look something like this:
A. Since therapy is being terminated, accept the
client's offer to post a review.
B. Since the therapist has not requested the review,
accept the client's offer.
C. Thank the client without accepting or rejecting the
client's offered review.
D. Discuss reciprocity within the therapist-client
relationship with the client.
Maybe this is a little trickier than it originally looked. Let's
go one by one:
A involves misreading the vignette--therapy is not being
terminated. It's just the last session before a holiday break. If
therapy were being terminated, that would make the question even
B is extremely tempting, and follows the letter of the code from
this section. However, it doesn't fully take into account other
parts of the code (regarding, for example, dual relationships). If
there were no better answer, this would be the go-to.
C involves being vague about the therapist-client
relationship--perhaps this is ethical, but it's not particularly
good clinical social work. Move on.
D sounds most like what a good therapist would first do in this
situation--talk about it. Explore the client's impulse to pay the
clinician in a way not already contracted with the client (fee for
service, most likely). Does the client feel obligated to please the
therapist? How does this follow the client's relationship patterns
outside of therapy?
Answer: D. This was a hard one! How'd you do?
For questions about the NASW Code
of Ethics and all of the other areas covered on the social work
licensing exam, sign up for SWTP