Disciplines: Social Work
Hours: 6 Contact Hours
  • James J. Clark, LCSW, PhD
  • Molly Malany Sayre, MSW, LSW
Peer Reviewer(s): Frederic G. Reamer, PhD
Item#: B4222
Contents: 1 Course Book (116 pages)

Social Work Ethics: Decision Making and Accountability, Updated 1st Edition

Price $49.95
Item # B4222
When available, the Online Course format is included with the hard copy, eBook, or audio book formats!

Release Date: February 26, 2016

Expiration Date: December 31, 2019

This thought-provoking course examines the interplay of social work, values, ethics, and decision-making processes. Through the use of practice scenarios, social workers will learn how to approach risk management and thorny ethical dilemmas that are common to many practice areas. The course discusses the role of laws and regulations in regard to ethics, highlights the importance of the distinction between legal and moral problems, and describes the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics.

Participants will learn about the dynamics of decision making through discussions of judgment research, the use of natural heuristics, and social and organizational sources of decision error. Specific approaches to ethical problems that are described include the cycle of reflection, the ethical rules screen, the common morality approach, and creative problem solving. The discussion of risk management includes community-based mental health treatment, telepsychiatry and other technologies, forensic custodial evaluations, clinical work with children and adolescents, confidentiality and privileged communication, improper termination, managed care, and prediction of violence. Participants will learn about the concept of the “flourishing life,” with discussions on public action to enhance access to clinical services; international perspectives and moral concern; and relationships among social justice, class, race, and medical status. This intermediate-level course is designed for social workers, but it also serves behavioral health professionals in other disciplines who want to improve practice and enhance risk management.

This course should not be taken in conjunction with Practicing Social Work Ethics: Contemporary Approaches, Updated 1st Edition (B4227).

  • Social workers will receive 6 continuing education clock hours (social work ethics hours), 3 hours of which are determined to be clinical content. Social workers should contact their individual regulatory board to review current continuing education requirements for licensure renewal. Accreditations

Course Objectives

  • Describe the historical evolution of social work ethics
  • Explain the cognitive and emotional errors that threaten ethical decision making and practice
  • Discuss the use of self in social work practice and ethical decision making
  • Discuss relevant ethical guidelines, theories, and strategies for sound social work practice
  • Identify effective strategies for managing potential threats to ethical decision making and clinical practice
  • Describe approaches to resolving risk management and ethical problems associated with contemporary practice
  • Explain ways to act upon the ethical mandate to address systemic unfairness, serve and advocate for vulnerable and oppressed populations, promote diversity, and work for a just society


James J. Clark, LCSW, PhD, is Dean of the College of Social Work, Florida State University. He was Director of the School of Social Work at the University of Cincinnati (2012 to 2015), and Associate Dean for Research, and Associate Director of the Center on Trauma and Children at the University of Kentucky, where he was on the faculty from 1991 to 2012. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with a Master of Social Work in 1983, Dr. Clark worked in the outreach clinic of Catholic Community Services in Doddridge County, West Virginia, before returning to Lexington, Kentucky, where he served as a clinician and director of the Catholic Social Services Bureau from 1984 to 1989. He received his doctoral degree in 1995 from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration; his dissertation analyzed the treatment and criminal careers of prisoners with schizophrenic disorders. Returning to Kentucky, he joined the faculty of the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, where he held the Constance Wilson Professorship of Mental Health, taught in the doctoral program, and directed dissertations. In addition to his research on child maltreatment and substance misuse treatment, he has published in the areas of professional and research ethics, forensic mental health, consumer satisfaction research, and psychobiography. He has served as a presenter on the topic of ethics for the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Clark served as a faculty associate with the University of Kentucky Bioethics Program as well as the Bioethics and Research Integrity Committee in the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science. He recently coauthored the Council on Social Work Education’s National Statement on Research Integrity in Social Work and is co-editor of an American Bar Association book on death penalty mitigation.

Molly Malany Sayre, MSW, LSW, is a doctoral student in the University of Kentucky College of Social Work. Following completion of a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2008, Ms. Sayre worked as a therapist in community-based and private practice mental health services. While completing requirements for the PhD in social work, she taught the undergraduate ethics course at the University of Kentucky. Ms. Sayre is the author of several journal articles on social work ethics education and has presented on ethics topics for the National Association of Social Workers.


Frederic G. Reamer, PhD, is a professor in the graduate program of the Rhode Island College School of Social Work, where he has been on the faculty since 1983. His research and teaching have addressed a wide range of human service issues, including mental health, health care, criminal justice, public welfare, and professional ethics. Dr. Reamer received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1978 and has served as a social worker in correctional and mental health settings. The author of numerous books and articles, he has held appointments on the faculties of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (1978 to 1981) and the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Social Work (1981 to 1983). Dr. Reamer has also served as the director of the National Juvenile Justice Assessment Center of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (1979 to 1981), and as Senior Policy Advisor to the Governor of Rhode Island (1987 to 1990). Dr. Reamer has served on the State of Rhode Island Parole Board for more than 20 years. He served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Social Work Education (1990 to 1994) and, since 1995, has served as editor of the Columbia University Press Social Work Knowledge book series. Dr. Reamer chaired the national task force that wrote the Code of Ethics adopted by the National Association of Social Workers in 1996. Dr. Reamer has conducted extensive research on professional ethics and has been involved in several national research projects sponsored by the Hastings Center, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Haas Foundation.

  • Courses must be completed on or before the expiration date noted in the course description above.
  • You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion
  • Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that this course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence. It is Western Schools’ policy not to accept commercial support
  • All persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content