Professional Behaviors and Expectations

All students in the Graduate Social Work program within the College of Education and Social Work (CESW) must adhere to the code of ethics as outlined by the National Association of Social Workers. CESW views its students as mature individuals who are either preparing to be members of the profession or continuing to develop their knowledge and skills within the profession. Students are expected to exhibit a high level of integrity, humility and empathy when working with others (client, peers, instructors, etc) all while upholding the professional standards of conduct.

The Graduate Social Work Program has developed Professional Behaviors and Expectations that are essential to the profession. These Professional Behaviors have been adapted from the Social Work Competencies outlined in the 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards set forth by the Council on Social Work Education.

Professional Behaviors

Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant laws and regulations that may impact practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Social workers understand frameworks of ethical decision-making and how to apply principles of critical thinking to those frameworks in practice, research, and policy arenas. Social workers recognize personal values and the distinction between personal and professional values. They also understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions influence their professional judgment and behavior. Social workers understand the profession’s history, its mission, and the roles and responsibilities of the profession. Social Workers also understand the role of other professions when engaged in inter-professional teams. Social workers recognize the importance of life-long learning and are committed to continually updating their skills to ensure they are relevant and effective. Social workers also understand emerging forms of technology and the ethical use of technology in social work practice.

Social workers:

  • make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to context;
  • use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situations;
  • demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication;
  • use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes;
  • and use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior

Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice

Social workers understand how diversity and difference characterize and shape the human experience and are critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. Social workers understand that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers also understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values, including social, economic, political, and cultural exclusions, may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power.

Social workers:

  • apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels;
  • present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experiences; and
  • apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies.

Please utilize the menus to learn more about the Professional Behaviors and Expectations evaluation process and to access additional resources and forms.

Note: A student's violation of professional behaviors may also be a violation of University-wide policy. In this case, the violation should be filed with appropriate University or College bodies.

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