Values and Ethics in Social Work, Cultural Competency

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In the National Association for Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics, there are many standards a social worker should uphold in order to promote a healthy and helpful relationship with the client. One such aptitude is Cultural Competence and Social Diversity, which is in section 1.05 of the NASW code of ethics (National Association of Social Workers, 2008). There are three sections associated with this competency “Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths in all cultures”. It is assumed that “social workers should have a knowledge base of their clients’ cultures and be able to demonstrate competence in the provision of services that are sensitive to clients”. As a final point “Social workers should obtain education” in order to understand cultural diversity and oppression in people (NASW, 2008, p. 9).
Cultural Competence
Understanding culture is an important aspect of being a social worker; this does not mean learning common cultural traits is of great significance to the social work profession. “Consider the second-generation Japanese-American social worker whose practice consists of Mexican-American and African-American families. Memorizing national traits or cultural rituals would be interesting and informative, but ultimately these would be an inaccurate basis on which to “know” these particular families” (Dorfman, 1996, p. 33). When understanding cultural competence it is important to learn from the client about their culture in order to serve them in the most helpful and efficient way possible. There is a major drawback to memorizing information, and that is this information will not give you a real understanding of whom your client is and what life...

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...culture you need to understand who they are. Memorizing different facts about a culture will not necessarily help you in becoming culturally competent with your clients. The code of ethics is a valuable resource that should be used in order to keep the standards high in the profession of social work.

Works Cited

Delgado, M. (1999). Social work practice in nontraditional urban settings. New York: Oxford University Press.
Dorfman, R. (1996). Clinical social work: Definiton [sic], practice, and vision. New York: Brunner/Mazel Publishers.
National Association of Social Workers [NASW]. (2008). Code of ethics of the National
Association of Social Workers. Washington, DC: NASW Press.
National Association of Social Workers [NASW]. (1998). The New NASW Code of Ethics Can Be Your Ally: Part I. Retrieved from:
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