My bestie is getting her MSW (Master’s in Social Work) right now, so when she learned what happened with Zooey…let’s just say she was not impressed. In fact, one of her first reactions was to reassure me that this was most definitely NOT an acceptable way for Social Workers to behave. Zooey is an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and since I’ve been learning about medical ethics in my own studies, I was curious if Bestie had been learning something similar in her MSW program. I not-so-discretely asked her about the ethics surrounding social work practice. She sent me a link to the NASW (National Association for Social Workers) Code of Ethics. Here is what is listed under “Termination of Services”:
1.16 Termination of Services
(a) Social workers should terminate services to clients and professional relationships with them when such services and relationships are no longer required or no longer serve the clients’ needs or interests.
(b) Social workers should take reasonable steps to avoid abandoning clients who are still in need of services. Social workers should withdraw services precipitously only under unusual circumstances, giving careful consideration to all factors in the situation and taking care to minimize possible adverse effects. Social workers should assist in making appropriate arrangements for continuation of services when necessary.
(c) Social workers in fee-for-service settings may terminate services to clients who are not paying an overdue balance if the financial contractual arrangements have been made clear to the client, if the client does not pose an imminent danger to self or others, and if the clinical and other consequences of the current nonpayment have been addressed and discussed with the client.
(d) Social workers should not terminate services to pursue a social, financial, or sexual relationship with a client.
(e) Social workers who anticipate the termination or interruption of services to clients should notify clients promptly and seek the transfer, referral, or continuation of services in relation to the clients’ needs and preferences.
(f) Social workers who are leaving an employment setting should inform clients of appropriate options for the continuation of services and of the benefits and risks of the options.
Okay, so here’s my response to various parts of this: