Moral Values Conflict in Social Work

Social work in the country is based on specific values and the NASW Code of Ethics. Such values as social justice, duty, and altruism are at the heart of the profession (Frunza & Sandu, 2017). Nevertheless, sometimes social worker’s values and worldview contradict the personal values and worldview of their clients. The problem commonly surges when a social worker is deeply religious (Joslin et al., 2016). Consequently, a complex moral conflict arises, described in the presented scenario. The problem’s solution stems from the profession’s principal values.

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Currently, traditional Christianity and some other religions’ systems of beliefs are, to an extent, incompatible with the official social work position. As a result, the central ethical issue in the outlined situation is a conflict between the social worker’s and their client’s core values. The case does not seem unusual as, within social work, the tension between conservative Christians and the LGBTQ community is widely publicized (Joslin et al., 2016). Furthermore, the social worker’s behavior could be discriminatory towards the lesbian couple. The NASW Code of Ethics has a separate segment for discrimination (4.02). It is stated in the code that “social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation…” (National Association of Social Workers, 2017, p. 7). The principal ethical dilemmas in the outlined situation are the worldview conflict and the social worker’s lack of readiness to adapt.

Since the social worker accepted a position in a nonsectarian organization, it would be advisable for her to reconsider the role of social work values in her life. Even as a beginning social worker, she has multiple duties, including respect for privacy and care (Cournoyer, 2016). It also seems essential to ensure that she understands what being employed in a nonsectarian organization entails. The demonstrated attitude is improper for a professional and possibly can be expressed in the communication with the clients, which can harm them and the organization’s image. Consequently, the young social worker should reread organizational policy and evaluate whether she can operate in the given framework, considering that she will continue to encounter clients with worldviews divergent from her own. Hence, the suggested points for consideration are the social worker’s readiness to act according to the profession’s values and organizational policies.

The suggestions regarding her future actions depend on the social worker’s attitude. If she thinks that she is unable to provide quality service to the clients due to her religious beliefs, it would be recommended to consider Christian social work services or pastoral counseling as an alternative workplace. If the social worker is confident that her personal views will not be expressed in communication and harm the clients, first, she should research state laws regarding same-sex marriage and adoption. The recommendation is based on the need to provide quality service for the clients.

A non-judgmental approach in social work necessitates the ability to cooperate with people with different values and beliefs. The approach applies both to the social worker and her supervisor. Nonetheless, since the client’s well-being and social justice are fundamental values in the profession, the social worker’s possible unwillingness to incorporate them in her practice puts her professionalism into question. In this case, she should adjust or reconsider her choice to work in nonsectarian social work services.


Cournoyer, B. (2016). The social work skills workbook (8th ed.). Cengage.

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Frunza, A., & Sandu, A. (2017). Ethical values in social work practice: A qualitative study. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 14(1), 40–60.

Joslin, J. Y., Dessel, A. B., & Woodford, M. R. (2016). Social work students’ experiences in a Christianity and sexual minority intergroup dialogue. Social Work Education, 35(5), 547–559.

National Association of Social Workers. (2017). NASW code of ethics. Web.

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