Carolyn I. Polowy, Sherri Morgan, W. Dwight Bailey, and Carol Gorenberg
Confidentiality of client communications is one of the ethical foundations of the social work profession and has become a legal obligation in most states. Many problems arise in the application of the principles of confidentiality and privilege to the professional services provided by social workers. This entry discusses the concepts of client confidentiality and privileged communications and outlines some of the applicable exceptions. While the general concept of confidentiality applies in many interactions between social workers and clients, the application of confidentiality and privilege laws are particularly key to the practice of clinical social workers in various practice settings.
Charles E. Lewis Jr.
The Congressional Social Work Caucus is a bicameral authorized Congressional Member Organization (CMO) founded by former Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns In November 2010 during the 110th Congress. The mission of the caucus is to provide a platform in Congress that will allow social workers to engage the federal government. The Social Work Caucus consists of members of the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate who are professional social workers or who generally support the ideals, principles, and issues germane to the social work profession. Because of House Ethic rules, CMOs are prohibited from possessing resources of its own and must depend on the office budgets of its members. Consequently, the Social Work Caucus participated in a number of congressional briefings and seminars in conjunction with other social work organizations such as the National Association of Social Worker (NASW), the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and the Social for Social Work and Research (SSWR). These public events covered a wide range of topics such as social workers roles in the Affordable Care Act, military social work, funding for mental health research, and trauma-based practice in child welfare.
Social work is a consulting profession. Often compared with social-work supervision, consultation is relatively voluntary and time limited. Visionaries once anticipated that consultation would become a larger field of practice in which social workers served as consultants. There are indications that the field of consultation has begun to realize some of that promise because consultation is second only to direct practice in how licensed social workers spend time at work. If the primary consumers of social-work consultation are social workers themselves, then this reflects a high standard of practice because seeking case consultation has been codified as a duty in social-work codes of ethics, practice standards, and standards of care.
Sandra A. Lopez
Private independent practice (known historically as private practice) is a growing segment of the social work profession. Social workers entering this context are providing a range of services, including clinical and nonclinical. Major considerations for establishing, maintaining, and marketing a successful and ethical private independent practice will be discussed. Existing tensions and challenges in the social work profession and in the field of social work education will be briefly examined. Future directions for private independent practice of social work will be explored.
Continuing education (CE) refers to an array of opportunities by which professionals can augment existing knowledge and skills. CE is essential for professional competence, career development, and compliance with licensing rules and other regulations. CE is offered through a variety of auspices, methods, and venues. Advances in instructional technology and electronic communication have further expanded access to CE opportunities. Ongoing challenges in CE include strategies for assuring quality in CE programming and adequately evaluating skill and knowledge acquisition.
Julia M. Watkins and Jessica Holmes
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) provides leadership in social work education through faculty development, research, and accreditation of baccalaureate and master's social work programs. As of February 2012, 689 social work programs were accredited by CSWE. These programs represent an estimated 7,500 faculty members and 82,000 students at the baccalaureate and master's levels. CSWE promotes continued educational innovation and relevancy through setting accreditation standards, which are regularly revised by volunteer representatives from the social work education and practice community and approved by the CSWE Board of Directors.
This entry defines cultural competence and culturally competent practice and focuses on cultural awareness, knowledge acquisition, skill development, and inductive learning as key components. It traces the historical development of cultural competence in the disciplines of psychology and social work, pointing out how cultural competence has become a professional standard. Cultural competence has also been recognized on the federal and state health and human services levels. Cultural competence is viewed on the practitioner, agency, and community levels as well as the micro, meso, and macro dimensions. Among the implications for practice are the issues of cultural competence and cultural competencies, the ethics of cultural competence, social context, and biculturation and multiculturalization.
Frederic G. Reamer
Digital, online, and other electronic technology has transformed the nature of social work practice and education. Contemporary social workers can provide services to clients by using online counseling, telephone counseling, video counseling, cybertherapy (avatar therapy), self-guided Web-based interventions, electronic social networks, e-mail, and text messages. In addition, increasing numbers of social work education programs are using distance education technology to teach students. The introduction of diverse digital, online, and other forms of electronic social services has created a wide range of complex ethical and related risk management issues. This article provides an overview of current technology used in social work; identifies compelling ethical issues; and explores risk-management issues. The author identifies relevant standards from the NASW Code of Ethics and other resources designed to guide practice.
Dual degree programs are growing rapidly around the country with increasing numbers of universities offering students an opportunity to earn an M.S.W. along with another degree. While two degrees offer clear benefits to the students and provide revenue to the institutions, they also raise some issues and concerns about the “relative worth” of an M.S.W.
Allan Hugh Cole Jr.
This entry discusses principal ways in which knowledge and knowing have been understood within philosophy, science, and social science, with implications for contemporary social work practice. Attention is given to various types of knowledge, its necessary conditions, scope, and sources. It focuses particularly on how practice wisdom remains a key source of knowledge for social work theory and practice, and suggests that greater epistemological clarity could further competent social work practice in an increasingly pluralistic world.