Ethics in Professional Helping – SOWK 270

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

Ethics in Professional Helping is the study of values and principles of ethical decision making. Topics in the course are ethical dilemmas, critical thinking, professional code of ethics, and common morality. Each topic is evaluated through a biblical worldview.


 (SOWK 101 or PSYC 101 or SOCI 200) and ENGL 102


Professional helpers face ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. This course prepares students with foundational knowledge necessary for understanding the complexity and ambiguity of ethical dilemmas while exploring critical thinking and ethical decision-making. It reviews codes of ethics from a variety of helping professions including humans services, social work, and psychology.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior (CSWE Competency 1)

  • 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.
  • Use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 350 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge and include at least one scholarly reference. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 other classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 200 words and provide substantive discussion. Discussion boards assess Competency 1 - Ethical and Professional Behavior (knowledge, values, cognitive & affective processes).

Paper: Ethical Dilemma Paper Part One

Students will write an analysis integrating various sources of knowledge – the textbook, the Bible, and the NASW Code of Ethics. The paper will be in APA format. No abstract is necessary for this paper.

This paper will be broken into two parts.

Part One:

The first part of this paper is addressing your initial gut reaction. You will start by describing the ethical dilemma that you chose from the approved list. Then you will describe your “gut” reaction to this problem. This paper should be written in proper APA formatting with a title page and be 3-4 pages long (not including title and reference page). An abstract is not necessary; however, a correctly formatted title and reference page are required. The proper use of headings will help organize your paper.

The paper must align with the following guidelines:

  • Describe the ethical dilemma.
    • Describe the scenario in your own words. Do NOT copy and paste.
    • Define the actual dilemma - This is the decision that you must make.
    • Whom does the dilemma impact (or whom could it potentially impact) and how? This is the ripple effect of the dilemma. Think deeply and broadly, and demonstrate that you understand the impact of the dilemma.
    • Describe the competing values present in the dilemma from the list of 6 social work values in the NASW Code of Ethics. Howare the values relevant in this the dilemma, and how do they compete with each other?
  • Describe your first “gut” solution to the problem. This section should demonstrate not only an understanding of the NASW Code of Ethics, but also self-awareness and an understanding of how your own experiences have shaped how you make decisions. Simply stating the decision that you would make will not suffice. This section is where you will discuss not only what you would
    do, but why.

Paper: Ethical Dilemma Paper Part Two

Part two:

For this part, you will use the morality framework (from the course text) to evaluate your initial “gut reaction” solution to the ethical dilemma. Considering what you wrote as your initial “gut” solution, you will apply that solution/decision to the framework presented in the textbook. After working through each step of the framework, you will re-evaluate your initial “gut” solution, and develop at least two alternative solutions (at least one must be biblically principled). Additionally, you will address the role that supervision and consultation would have within this dilemma.

This paper should be written in proper APA formatting with a title page and be at least 4 pages long (not counting the title page or reference page). Include part one of the paper in this submission(Part one will not be graded for this part, it is included only for reference)

The paper must align with the following guidelines:

  • Use the morality framework (Step 1, #1–10 and Step 2) on pages 41–46 to analyze the ethical dilemma. Please number the steps in your paper and use level two headings to organize your paper. Do not write this portion in paragraph form.
    • If any of the steps are not applicable to your situation, please note this in your paper. Simply leaving the steps out, or marking them N/A will result in a loss of points. You need to explain why the step is not applicable, in order to demonstrate your understanding of each particular step. Thoughtful analysis for each step should be applied here.
  • Re-evaluate your initial “gut” solution.
    • Now that you have worked through your initial solution utilizing the framework, analyze your solution. This section should demonstrate an ability to see all sides of a dilemma, and make decisions that reflect social work values and a focus on the client. Simply stating, "I still agree with my initial reaction," will not suffice here.
  • Describe at least two alternative solutions and provide a rationale for each. At least 1 of the solutions must reflect a biblical worldview, and you must support this solution with scripture and biblical principles. This area should reflect your ability to conceptualize alternative actions, and how those actions will impact your client.
  • Discuss how you could use supervision and consultation as a resource when evaluating the potential solutions.
    • What would be the benefit in talking with your supervisor about this dilemma? How would you approach your supervisor about this situation?
    • Are there others who would be appropriate to consult about this particular situation? If so, who and how do you think they could be of assistance to you?
    • What additional resources could you examine (e.g. agency policy, State or federal laws, etc.) to assist you in evaluating the potential solutions?

The paper is to be written in APA format. The paper will be graded per the rubric, which reflects a 70/30 break-down (70% of the grade is weighted for content, 30% is weighted for mechanics/grammar/formatting). There is no need to include an abstract in the paper. This paper assesses Competency 1- Ethical and Professional Behavior (knowledge, values, cognitive & affective processes).

**Completing and submitting the Ethical Dilemma Paper (parts 1 and 2) is required to pass the course**