Episode 24 - Dr. Frederic Reamer: Ethical Dilemmas in Contemporary Social Work: Trends and Challenges

Monday, July 13, 2009, 7:33:15 AM

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This discussion highlights a wide range of complex and challenging ethical issues in contemporary social work. Frederic Reamer introduces listeners to an array of ethical dilemmas that arise in clinical social work, supervision, administration, and advocacy. He shares his insights about the ways in which ethical standards in social work have changed over time and summarizes what he believes is essential ethics-related knowledge for every social worker.

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Average Rating: 4.5 stars (6 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  excellent, Wednesday, April 09, 2014

By Teresa Voorhees :

This podcast was excellent. As a school social worker and adjunct professor, I received very good information and focus items for my work in both areas. I really look forward to incorporating the Ethics Audit in my work. Thanks!

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Average Rating: 5stars  ethics in social work, Sunday, June 19, 2011

By Shermeeka Mason :

What I found interesting about this podcast is that Dr. Reamer educates listeners about the history of ethics in social work. He shares how--when he was pursuing his PhD, he discovered the lack of information about social work ethics and how we as social workers can benefit from know this information.
I also liked how he explains the concept of long-standing and non-long standing issues. Until this podcast, I knew nothing about E-Therapy (Electronic Therapy) and the fact that social workers are using social services like Skype to connect to their clients. But even then, this could cause ethical issues because technology cannot be monitored and confidentiality could be easily breached if electronic devices are not utilized carefully.

After watching this podcast, I realized social work students (undergraduates especially) need to study and understand ethics. In order to be effective social workers, we need to know about the various ethical issues within the profession. That way, we would better serve our clients as well as remain integral change agents.

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Average Rating: 4stars  review of dr. reamer's podcast, Sunday, February 28, 2010

By Rachel L. :

Dr. Reamer's discussion explained a lot about the NASW Code of Ethics and the drastic changes that have been made since the original one-page document created in 1979. He shares the idea that social workers with the most knowledge about relevant topics and the values of the profession began their practice before technological advances had created new ethical dilemmas. I think it is important that the NASW Code of Ethics is a living document that can change with the times, and that questions that become more and more relevant and common are included and handled. It isn't to say that the Code should serve as a tool to be used without reflection. One of the more important points of Dr. Reamer's discussion was his feedback involving the importance of supervision and research in using the tools present in the Code of Ethics to achieve the most appropriate and effective practice. In order to provide our clients and society as a whole with the best work possible, adhering to the values of the profession, we must invest the time to keep up with relevant literature and empirical evidence to support our positions and our practice. Supervision is also an important tool that should be used with the guidance of the Code of Ethics in order to document the decision-making process.

Having one of the developers of the NASW Code of Ethics explain how important the document is, all of the research and historical development of the document makes it a less textbook-like list of rules and more of a living tool to guide our practice. The list of scenarios that Dr. Reamer briefly discusses regarding confidentiality and problems in practice were also an eye-opener for me in remembering how important it is to adhere to the values of the profession at all times. Overall, as Dr. Reamer stated is common, this is a topic I rarely seek information about but I found this podcast very helpful in explaining the importance of ethical standards in social work practice.

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Average Rating: 4stars  ethical issues in the real world of social work, Saturday, January 23, 2010

By Kate Wolff :

This podcast was full of what I found to be very important information that is rarely discussed in the field. In our classrooms, the NASW Code of Ethics is referenced almost daily, yet very rarely do we speak of it in our field. Dr. Reamer brings up many interesting points in that when the Code of Ethics was first developed it was only one page and now it is twenty-seven pages long. Many different portions had to be added, some of which having to do with technological advances being made in ways of communication. He brings up the fact that he currently has the responsibility of testifying in court on issues involving the Code. Some of these cases involve text messages and boundaries with clients regarding text messaging. He refers to some of these issues as “fuzzy lines” as opposed to “bright lines”. It is my opinion that these “lines” should have a larger place in curriculum and students should be given more examples of ethical dilemmas and how to go about treating the “fuzzy lines” we may come across in our practice.
While listening to this podcast, I also began to wonder about how some of these boundary issues may relate to macro social work. For example, it is as clear as glass that if I am doing micro work and individually counseling an individual, under no circumstances should I become involved romantically with this client. However, what if I am a macro worker doing outreach at some event and a client utilizes my services (such as receiving a free HIV test) and three months later, we run into each other in a public space and recognize each other and consider a possible date? The line here becomes very fuzzy and I’m sure things like this come up often in the real world of social work.

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Average Rating: 4stars  interested in the evolution of the nasw code of ethics? this is for you..., Saturday, January 23, 2010

By Leslie Disbro :

Dr. Frederic Reamer chaired the National Task force that wrote the Code of Ethics that was adopted by NASW in 1996 and is currently in use. Dr. Reamer provides an overview of the ethical framework available in the mid-20th Century, to the present ethical arena in which workers must navigate today.

The original Code of Ethics, authored in 1960, spanned a mere one page in its entirety. A subsequent Code of Ethics revision occurred in 1979. Dr. Reamer elaborates on the need to fully revise this and the creation of the Code of Ethics that is in use today. The current Code also highlights the mission and core values of social work. Dr. Reamer substantiates the need for the most recent version, consisting of 27 pages and addressing scenarios that were unimaginable in 1960.

Dr. Reamer uses applicable “real life” scenarios to illustrate two categories of ethical dilemmas: long-standing social issues with “new twists” and emerging ethical issues. Issues such as confidentiality and boundaries fall into the first category. Technological advances such as therapy sessions via the internet and social networking sites color the latter category, and have further complicated the ethical arena.

Dr. Reamer closes the podcast with suggestions for more comprehensive ethics education and awareness. He offers prudent and practical guidelines for students and new practitioners. The presenter’s extensive experiences combine to enlighten listeners and shape decision-making. A podcast many will find interesting and informative, Dr. Reamer’s views provoke careful consideration for today’s social issues.
National Association of Social Workers. (2006). Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers [Brochure].

Reamer, F. (Speaker). (July 13, 2009). Ethical Dilemmas in Contemporary Social Work: Trends and Challenges (Episode #24). Buffalo, New York: University at Buffalo School of Social Work, Living Proof Podcast Series.

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Average Rating: 5stars  a must listen podcast!, Monday, July 13, 2009

By Anonymous :

This podcast is a MUST LISTEN for all social workers as well as other human service professionals! Dr. Reamer provides an overview of the evolution of the NASW standards on ethics and steps for making a decision when an ethical issue arises. As a profession, we need to spend more time on in-depth discussions of these types of ethical dilemmas as life is "gray", far more often than it is "black and white". While I have not yet read Dr. Reamer's new book "The Social Work Ethics Casebook" from NASW Press, now that I have listened to this podcast I definitely have it on my wish list as the next book I need to read!

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