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Introduction to Professional Social Work

Principles, Philosophy, Ethics & History of

Professional Social Work
A professional is a worker required to possess a large body of knowledge derived from extensive
academic study (usually tertiary = University), with the training almost always formalized.

Professions are at least to a degree self-regulating, in that they control the training and evaluation
processes that admit new persons to the field, and in judging whether the work done by their
members is up to standard. This differs from other kinds of work where regulation (if considered
necessary) is imposed by the state, or where official quality standards are often lacking.

Historical trends Typically a professional provides a

 Charity and help is a characteristic of all societies service (in exchange for payment or
 Many civilisations have a strong emphasis on authority and salary), in accordance with
social order through loyalty to family, community and established protocols for licensing,
traditional structures ethics, procedures, standards of
 Medieval Europe: poverty and charity service and training / certification.
 !600s, 1700s: Renaissance, Reformation, some state assistance
 Late 1800s, early 1900s: States responsible for social help The above definitions were echoed
by economist and sociologist Max
 Mid-1900s: welfare states (post-war, post-depression)
 Late 1900s: Economic pressure on state responsibility: Weber, who noted that professions
managerialist, neo-conservative response are defined by the power to exclude
 Sources of UK social work and control admission to the
 Church, charity, dependence, public disorder profession, as well as by the
 Church adapts to industrialisation, urbanisation development of a particular
 Municipalisation and the local bureaucratic elite vocabulary specific to the
 Reform, rescue and secularisation occupation, and at least somewhat
 Main origins: incomprehensible to outsiders.
 Poor Law
 Insurance, working-class mutual help
 Charity Organisation Movement Professions Vs Trades
 Settlements /Crafts
 Emergence of social work > casework, group work, community In narrow usage, not all expertise is
considered a profession. Although
 Depression, war, welfare states, cold war
 Neoconservative, rationalist, managerialist policies sometimes referred to as
professions, such occupations as
skilled construction work are more generally thought of as trades or crafts. The completion of an
apprenticeship is generally associated with skilled labor or trades such as carpenter, electrician,
plumber, and other similar occupations. A related (though not always valid) distinction would be that
a professional does mainly mental or administrative work, as opposed to engaging in physical work.
Many companies include the word professional in their company name to signify the quality of their
workmanship or service. (e.g., Finance Managers).

Profession: An occupation whose core element is work based upon the mastery of a complex
body of knowledge and skills. It is a vocation in which knowledge of some department of
science or learning or the practice of an art founded upon it is used in the service of others. Its
members are governed by codes of ethics and profess a commitment to competence, integrity and
morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good within their domain. These commitments
form the basis of a social contract between a profession and society, which in return grants
the profession a monopoly over the use of its knowledge base, the right to considerable autonomy in 2
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
practice and the privilege of self-regulation. Professions and their members are accountable to
those served and to society.

The term profession derives from the Latin: "to swear (an oath)". The oath referred to
dictates adherence to ethical standards, which invariably include practitioner/client confidentiality,
truthfulness, and the striving to be an expert in one's calling, all three of these being practiced above
all for the benefit of the client. There is also a stipulation about upholding the good name of the

The term profession thus refers to an occupation, vocation or high-status career, usually
involving prolonged academic training, formal qualifications and membership of a
professional or regulatory body. Professions involve the application of specialized knowledge of a
subject, field, or science to fee-paying clientele. It is axiomatic that "professional activity involves
systematic knowledge and proficiency. "Professions are usually regulated by professional bodies that
may set examinations of competence, act as a licensing authority for practitioners, and enforce
adherence to an ethical code of practice.

1 Examples of the professions

2 Formation of a profession
3 Regulations
4 Autonomy
5 Status and prestige
6 Power
7 History
8 Gender inequality
9 Racial inequality
10 Characteristics of a profession

Examples of the professions

Professions include, for example: Dentists, Doctors/Surgeons, Lawyers, Accountants, Vets,
Pharmacists, Engineers, Teachers, Diplomats, Software Engineers, Commissioned Officers, Professors,
Clergy, Town & Transport Planners, Architects, Pilots, Physical Therapists, Librarians, Social Workers,
and some other specialized technical occupations.

Formation of a profession
A profession arises when any trade or occupation transforms itself through "the development of
formal qualifications based upon education and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies
with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights."

The process by which a profession arises from a trade or occupation is often termed
professionalization and has been described as one, "starting with the establishment of the activity as
a full-time occupation, progressing through the establishment of training schools and university links,
the formation of a professional organization, and the struggle to gain legal support for exclusion, and
culminating with the formation of a formal code of ethics."

Regulation enforced by statute distinguishes a profession from other occupations represented by
trade groups who aspire to professional status for their members. In all countries, professions have
their regulatory or professional bodies, whose function is to define, promote, oversee, support and
regulate the affairs of its members. For some professions there may be several such bodies.

Professions tend to be autonomous, which means they have a high degree of control of their own 3
affairs: "professionals are autonomous insofar as they can make independent judgments about their
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

Status and prestige

Professions enjoy a high social status, regard and esteem conferred upon them by society. This high
esteem arises primarily from the higher social function of their work, which is regarded as vital to
society as a whole and thus of having a special and valuable nature. All professions involve technical,
specialized and highly skilled work often referred to as "professional expertise." Training for this work
involves obtaining degrees and professional qualifications without which entry to the profession is
barred (occupational closure). Training also requires regular updating of skills through continuing

All professions have power. This power is used to control its own members, and also its area of
expertise and interests. A profession tends to dominate, police and protect its area of expertise and
the conduct of its members, and exercises a dominating influence over its entire field which means
that professions can act monopolist, rebuffing competition from ancillary trades and occupations, as
well as subordinating and controlling lesser but related trades. A profession is characterised by the
power and high prestige it has in society as a whole. It is the power, prestige and value that society
confers upon a profession that more clearly defines it. This is why Judges, Lawyers, Clerics, and
Medical personnel enjoy this high social
status and are regarded as true Attributes of a profession
professionals. 1. There should be tested body of knowledge, consisting
of techniques and methods communicable through an
How professions evolve educational discipline which should not only be academic
but practical in nature
The main milestones which mark an 2. Standards for training, jobs and services should be set
occupation being identified as a profession up.
are: 3. There should be a sense of belonging, group
1. It became a full-time occupation; consciousness and and responsibilities, professional
2. Establishment of training school; ethics for every professional.
3. Establishment of university 4. Profession should provide the professional with
department; continued occupation.
5. it should be responsive to public interest and work
4. Establishment of local association;
towards social ends.
5. Establishment of national association; 6. the goals should be the welfare of the people,
6. Introducing codes of professional improved human relations, built on understanding and
ethics; tolerance Paul Chowdhry p.23
7. Establishment State licensing laws.

The ranking of established professions in the United States based on the above milestones shows
Medicine first, followed by Law, Dentistry, Civil Engineering, Logistics, Architecture and Accounting.
With the rise of technology and occupational specialization in the 19th century, other bodies began to
claim professional status: Pharmacy, Logistics, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Teaching, Librarianship,
Optometry and Social Work, all of which could claim to be professions by 1900 using these

Although professions enjoy high status and public prestige, all professionals do not earn the same
high salaries. There are hidden inequalities even within professions.

Gender inequality & Racial inequality

There is a long-standing and well-documented male domination of all professions, even though this
has weakened over the last forty years or so. For example, well-qualified women rarely get the same
pay as men.

Characteristics of a Profession
The list of characteristics that follows is extensive, but does not claim to include every characteristic
that has ever been attributed to professions, nor do all of these features apply to every profession: 4
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
1. Skill based on theoretical knowledge:
2. Professional association:
3. Extensive period of education & Institutional training:
4. Testing of competence:
5. Licensed practitioners: Characteristics of Social Work
6. Work autonomy: 1 It is a helping activity, designed to
7. Code of professional conduct or ethics: give assistance in respect of problems
8. Self-regulation: that prevent individuals, families, groups
9. Public service and altruism: and communities from achieving a
10. Exclusion, monopoly and legal recognition: minimum desirable standard of social
11. Control of remuneration and advertising: and economic well being
12. High status and rewards: 2 It is a social activity, carried out not
13. Individual clients: for personal profit
14. Middle-class occupations: 3 It is a liaison activity, through which
15. Male-dominated: disadvantaged individuals, families,
16. Offer reassurance: groups and communities are linked to or
17. Ritual: enabled to access resources to meet
18. Legitimacy: their needs
19. Inaccessible body of knowledge: Paul Chowdhry p.21-22
20. Indeterminacy of knowledge:
21. Mobility:

The Emergence of Social Work as a Profession

Social Work emerged as a professional activity during the late
19th century. Its roots lie in early social welfare activities, charity
organization movement and the settlement house movement.

Early Social Welfare organizations.

New York Society for the Prevention
of Pauperism (1818)
Association for Improving the
Conditions of the Poor(1840)
Various Child Saving Organizations
American Social Science Association
(1865) ------ Conference of Charities (1874) ------ National Co

Charity Organization Societies.

Founded by a priest, S. Humphreys Gurteen, in 1877, expanded throughout
USA, within a short period by popularizing the techniques of investigation
and registration of the poor to eradicate pauperism. Its method of scientific charity necessitated
vocational preparation of charity workers (Friendly Visitors). The demand for trained workers led to
the gradual replacement of volunteers with professional staff.
Mary Richmond(1861-1928) a prominent leader in COS was instrumental in shaping the course of
social work profession by writing books “Social Diagnosis” (1917) “What is Social Case Work” (1922)
NewYork COS began its own publication and founded the first School of Social Work (now the
Columbia School of Social Work).
Many identify the COS’s responses to individuals’ needs as the genesis of social case work. Interest in
understanding the family relationship, utilization of “natural helping networks”, emphasis on personal
responsibility (Later translated to self determination) and concern for accountability in service delivery
are some of the COS’s enduring contributions to social work.

Settlement House Movement

The settlement house movement began in London .. Samuel Barnett founded Toynbee Hall ..
university students lived there with the poor families.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Stanton Coit established the Neighborhood Guild of NewYork City in USA
Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr established Chicago Hull House (1889)
Settlement house movement combined social Advocacy and social services.
Milestones in Professionalization
1915 Flexner, A. Is Social Work a profession? Proceedings of the National Conference of
Charities and Correction
1929 American Association of Social Workers’ Milford Conference examined social work’s
generic nature
1951 Hollis & Taylor report examined social worker’s role in professional practice.
1957 Greenwood re-examined the professional status of social work
1958 Social workers formed a definition of Social Work
1961 Bartlett analyzed social work by fields of practice
1969 Social workers applied general systems theory to social work
1970 Bartlett explicated the common base of social work practice
1977 Professionals examined social work’s purpose and objectives
1981 NASW developed a working statement on social work purpose
The rise of Professional Organizations
National Social Workers Exchange & Bureau of Occupations 1911
American Association of Medical Social Workers 1918
National Association of School Social Workers 1919
American Association of Psychiatric Social Workers 1926
American Association of Social Workers 1921
American Association of Group Workers 1936
Association for the Study of Community Organization 1946
Social Work Research Group All these merged into one NASW 1949
National Association of Social Workers 1955
National Association of Black Social Workers
National Association of Puerto Rican Social Service Workers
National Indian Social Workers Association
North American Association of Christians in Social Work
National Federation of Societies of for Clinical Social Work
Society for Social Work Administrators in Health Care
National Association of Oncology Social Workers
Various groups representing Women’s Rights, Gay & Lesbian issues
American Association of Schools of Social Work 1919
National Association of Schools of Social Administration Merged into CSWE
Council on Social Work Education 1952

Types of theory Formal theory Informal theory

Theories of what social work is Nature and purposes of Moral, political cultural objectives
Theories of how to do social Theories of practice Induction from particular situations
Theories of the client world Social science theories Use of experience and general social

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

NASW Code of Ethics—Summary of Principles

I. The Social Worker's Conduct and Comportment as a Social Worker

A. Propriety — The social worker should maintain high
standards of personal conduct in the capacity or identity of
social worker.
B. Competence and Professional Development —
The social worker should strive to become and remain
proficient in professional practice and the performance of
professional functions.
C. Service — The social worker should regard as
primary the service obligation of the social work
D. Integrity — The social worker should act in
accordance with the highest standards of professional
E. Scholarship and Research — The social worker
engaged in study and research should be guided by the
conventions of scholarly inquiry.
II. The Social Worker's Ethical Responsibility to
F. Primacy of Client's Interests — The social worker's primary responsibility is to clients.
G. Rights and Prerogatives of Clients — The social worker should make every effort to foster
maximum self-determination on the part of the clients.
H. Confidentiality and Privacy — The social worker should respect the privacy of clients and
hold in confidence all information obtained in the course of professional service.
I. Fees — When setting fees, the social worker should ensure that they are fair, reasonable,
considerate, and commensurate with the service performed and with due regard for the client's ability
to pay.
III. The Social Worker's Ethical Responsibility to Colleagues
J. Respect, Fairness, and Courtesy — The social worker should treat colleagues with respect,
courtesy, fairness, and good faith.
K. Dealing with Colleague's Clients — The social worker has the responsibility to relate to the
clients of colleagues with full professional consideration.
IV. The Social Worker's Ethical Responsibility to Employers and Employing
L. Commitments to Employing Organizations — The social worker should adhere to
commitments made to the employing organizations.
V. The Social Worker's Ethical Responsibility to the Social Work Profession
M. Maintaining the Integrity of the Profession — The social worker should uphold and
advance the values, ethics, knowledge, and mission of the profession.
N. Community Service — The social worker should assist the profession in making social services
available to the general public.
O. Development of Knowledge — The social worker should take responsibility for identifying,
developing, and fully utilizing knowledge for professional practice.
VI. The Social Worker's Ethical Responsibility to Society
P. Promoting the General Welfare — The social worker should promote the general welfare of
society. NASW Code of Ethics, 1980. National Association of Social Workers, Inc.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

Professional Values, Ethics and Principles

Values are the implicit and explicit ideas about what we cherish as ideal or preferable. Values shape
our beliefs and attitudes and in turn our beliefs and attitudes shape our values. Values make us
emotionally positive or negative about a situation.

Value system is complex networks of values that people develop either individually or collectively.
Normally a value within a value system is congruent or internally consistent.. but one should aware
that some conflicts exist within the value system.

For ex. All people are equal Vs only people who work productively is worthwhile … these values reveal
Poverty is the result of laziness Vs One cannot accumulate wealth if he /she is honest
The study of how people ought to act in order to be
Indian Values moral.A moral code that guides the conduct of a group of
The Bhakti movement’s value of professionals (such as medical doctors).The branch of
humanism, every individual has inherent
philosophy that defines what is right for the individual and
worth and dignity
Socialistic values of equality and legal, for society and establishes the nature of obligations, or
judicial, social and economic justice for duties, that people owe themselves and one another.
satisfaction of basic human needs, sharing
of natural resources and access to The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos,
essential services which means "character," and from the Latin word mores,
Sarvodaya’s values of Swarajya and which means "customs." In modern society, it defines how
Lokniti, that is people have to govern individuals, business professionals, and corporations
themselves in order to obtain equity and choose to interact with one another.
Solidarity with the marginalised
peoples, recognizing that Values are the implicit and explicit ideas about what
marginalised people need to be people consider good, ethics relates to what people
empowered consider correct or right. Ethics generates standards that
See also TISS SW Ethical frame work direct one’s conduct. Social work ethics are behavioral
expectations or preferences that are associated with social
work responsibility.

Professional ethics = upholding moral obligations + complying the standards of

1. Historical shift in the focus of values – from morality of individual clients to morality of
e.g. People were poor because they refused to profit by abundant opportunities to improve their
condition. To be destitute to the point of having to ask for relief was to be guilty of a defect in
character – thriftless ness and immorality.
It was settlement house movement and the Great economic depression changed our perception that
it is economic and social problems rather than individual inadequacies contribute to human sufferings. 8
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Besides social work profession’s commitment during the formation of profession – commitment to
quality of life, social justice, human dignity and worth – inclusion of value sets like equality, social
justice, freeing of life styles, rightful access to social resources and liberation of self powers are also
In social work literature values are explained and listed using different phrases with an underlying

Herbert Bisno has classified values / philosophy in to different headings

(The terms Values & Philosophy are used interchangeably)
1. Values / philosophy relating to individual.
2. Values / philosophy relating to problem
3. Values / philosophy relating to relationship.
4. Values / philosophy relating to social agency
5. Values / philosophy relating to social work practice

1. Values / philosophy relating to individual.

 Social work believes that human suffering is undesirable and should be
prevented or at least alleviated whenever possible.
 Human behavior is the result of interaction between the biological
organism and its environment.
 Family relationship is of primary importance in the early development of the individual.
 Though humans are moral being at birth, they tend to act irrationally also.
 Inherent dignity and worth of human beings, inherent and inalienable right of human beings to
choose and achieve his own destiny

2. Values / philosophy relating to problem

 There is a serious political, economic and social maladjustment in every culture.
 Evolutionary type of reform is both possible and desirable. i.e. incremental development

Principles of Personal Ethics

Personal ethics might also be called morality, since they reflect general expectations of any person in any
society, acting in any capacity. These are the principles we try to instill in our children, and expect of one
another without needing to articulate the expectation or formalize it in any way.
Principles of Personal Ethics include:
Concern for the well-being of others Respect for the autonomy of others Trustworthiness & honesty
Willing compliance with the law (with the exception of civil disobedience) Basic justice; being fair
Refusing to take unfair advantage Benevolence: doing good Preventing harm
Principles of Professional Ethics
Individuals acting in a professional capacity take on an additional burden of ethical responsibility. For
example, professional associations have codes of ethics that prescribe required behavior within the context of
a professional practice such as medicine, law, accounting, or engineering. These written codes provide rules
of conduct and standards of behavior based on the principles of Professional Ethics, which include:
Impartiality; objectivity Openness; full disclosure Confidentiality Due diligence / duty of care
Fidelity to professional responsibilities
Avoiding potential or apparent conflict of interest Even when not written into a code, principles of
professional ethics are usually expected of people in business, employees, volunteers, elected representatives
and so on.
 Social workers believe in the possibility of the intelligent direction of social change and hence there is
a need for social planning.
 Appreciating the multi dimensionality of the problem and its multiple consequences

3. Values / philosophy relating to relationship.

 Social Work rejects the doctrine of laissez faire and survival among the fittest.
 The rich and the powerful are not necessarily “fit” , while the poor / weak are not necessarily unfit.
 In social work “socialized individuals” are preferred to “rugged individualism” 9
 A major responsibility for the members rests with the community.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
 Accepting the clients / situation as it is and working at a pace convenient for them
4. Values / philosophy relating to social agency
 Social work agencies are basically resources to solve human problems
5. Values / philosophy relating to social work practice
 Social work has a functionally dualistic approach. It attempts to solve individual problems and at the
same time simultaneously attempt to modify the social and institutional framework in required
 Social work services should be provided by professionally trained workers in both public and private
 Social work accepts democracy as the fundamental ordering of the society.
 Knowledge, skill, ethical standards etc
Social Work Values, Knowledge & Skills
Values / philosophy Foundational Knowledge Requisite Skills
Respect for diversity Philosophy of Social Work Thinking critically
Non judgmentalism Theories of human behavior Building relationships
Confidentiality Cultural diversity Empowering process
Ethical Conduct Social welfare history Practice methods
Professional comportment Family dynamics Analyzing policies
Access to resources Group dynamics Effective communication
Dignity & Worth Service delivery system Ethnic confidence
Self determination Human systems Computer literacy
Social Justice Fields of practice Research
Self knowledge Social planning
Crisis intervention
Time management
Difference between Social and Professional relationship
Difference between Social and Professional relationship
Social Relationship Professional Relationship
Duration Open ended Ends when the problem is solved
Time Not limited Limited according to the problem
Place Home, Club, Worship places, Cinema Office or Institutions
Focus Mutual satisfaction of range of needs – Focus on client’s needs, problem
emotional, social, intellectual, aesthetics solving
Role relationship Mutual Helper and helped

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

Core values of Social Work (NASW, IFSW, CSWE)

1. Respect individuals’ worth and dignity, encourage mutual participation, demonstrate
acceptance, uphold confidentiality, express honesty and handle conflict responsibly.
2. Encourage individuals’ active participation in the helping relationship and uphold their right to
make their own decisions.
3. Assist clients in securing resources needed to enhance their social functioning.
4. Ensure that social institutions are humane and responsive to human needs.
5. Accept and appreciate diverse populations
6. Hold themselves accountable for ethical conduct, quality of their work and continuous
professional development. (Brenda Dubois, Social Work An Empowering Profession pp118 -142)

Social Work Values

1 Social workers believe in inherent worth and dignity of the individual
2 Each person has an inherent capacity and drive toward change which can make life more
3 Each person has responsibility for himself and his fellow human beings
4 People need to belong
5 There are human needs common to each person, yet each person is unique and different feom
6 Society must provide opportunities for growth and development that will allow each person to
realize his full potential
7 Society must provide resources and services to help people to meet their needs to avoid such
problems as hunger, inadequate education, discrimination, illness without care and inaequate
8 Peole must have equal opportunity to participate in the molding of society
9 People should be treated with respect and dignity, should have maximum opportunity to
determine theeir lives, should be urged and helped to interact with other people to build a
society responsive to the needs of everyone and should be recognized as unique individuals
rather than put into sterotypes because of some particular characteristic or life experience
Armando Morales & Bradford W.Sheafor 1987

Principles of Social Work

A fundamental, well-settled accepted tenets. A basic truth or undisputed doctrine; a given proposition
that is clear and does not need to be proved. It is basically a hypothesis, an assumption so
adequately tested by observation / experience / experiment may be used as a guide for action, or as
a means of understanding. Konapka (1958), Clarke (1947), Cohen (1958), Friedlander (1958),
Perlman (1976) Piccard (1988), Morales & Sheafor (1998) explained about Social Work Principles.

Social Workers transform the abstract values of the profession into principles for practice. Then they
translate these principles into concrete actions in specific situations.
Social Work Value Social Work Principle Positive manifestation Potential effect
Respect individuals Principle of Affirm individuality Affirm personhood
worth and dignity individualization Appreciate diversity
Uphold confidentiality Principle of confidentiality Respecting privacy Creating trust

Principles of Social Work

1. Principle of Acceptance
2. Principle of Individualization
3. Principle of Purposeful Expression of Feeling /
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Principle of Meaningful Relationship / Principle of Controlled Emotional Involvement /
4. Principle of Non Judgmental Attitude
5. Principle of Objectivity
6. Principle of Self Determination
7. Principle of Confidentiality
8. Principle of Accountability
9. Principle of Access to Resources
Besides this, some authors also mentioned
Principle of Communication
Principle of Social Functioning
The concept of social functioning involves two sub concepts – task and
coping. Tasks implies demands made upon people by various life situations.
These demands may pertain to issue of daily living, family life, entry into the world of work or inability
to do so, marriage and divorce, management of health, illness, finances and so on. The concept of
coping ‘emphasizes the relative mastery of the tasks in the situation.
Principle of Tuning Behavior
Principle of Social Learning

1. Principle of Acceptance.
Acceptance originate from Greek word “agape” which means “love which descends to misery, ugliness
and guilt in order to elevate..the love is critical and is able to transform what it loves..this love
(acceptance is not charity) is not charity which is an escape from the demands of critical love
…acceptance penetrates to the inner selves of others and affirms their humanity

2. Principle of Individualization
Social Workers by their training develop a generalized understanding of people, their problems and
their environment. If one applies this to all it may lead to bias, prejudice, labeling, stereotyping and
ignoring the beauty of diversity and uniqueness. This principle emphasis that client (group /
Community) have a right “to be individuals and be treated not as a human being but as this human
being with personal differences…and this transformed into “start where the client / group /community

3. Principle of Purposeful Expression of Feeling / Principle of Meaningful Relationship /

Principle of Controlled Emotional Involvement … Principle of Empathy

3. Purposeful Expression of Feeling

Social workers have to go beyond the content of just the facts to uncover feelings that underlie
these facts. By listening attentively, asking relevant questions and demonstrating tolerance and non
judgmentalism social workers encourage clients to share their feelings …to relieve pressure or
tension.. a cathartic or cleansing experience that enable clients to put their situation in perspective.

Putting oneself into the psychological frame of reference of another, so that the other person’s
feeling, thinking, and acting are understood and to some extent predictable. A desirable trust-building
characteristic of a helping profession. It is embodied in the sincere statement, “I understand how you
feel.” Empathy is different from sympathy in that to be empathetic one understands how the person
feels rather than actually experiencing those feelings, as in sympathy.

How we call a person with little or no empathy?

Any one with a high level of the trait of narcissism (an inflated self-esteem, a sense of superiority and
a feeling of entitlement) generally has little empathy or sympathy for others.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Controlled Emotional Involvement
Controlled emotional involvement is in no sense a “hardening” process. It is rather a mellowing
process which serves to steady and temper our emotional responses. Over identification with clients
impedes objectivity and neutrality.

Meaningful Relationship
Meaningful relationship begins by demonstrating the interests in client.

4. Principle of Non Judgmental Attitude

Non judgementalism presumes acceptance. Nonjudgmental social work excludes assigning guilt or
innocence, or degree of client responsibility for causation of the problems or needs but it does include
making evaluative judgments about the attitudes and standards or actions of the client.
Nonjudgementalism signifies social workers’ non blaming attitudes and behaviors…not judging clients
as good or bad, or worthy or unworthy.

5. Principle of Objectivity
It is closely related to non judgementalism

6. Principle of Self Determination

Positively it means having freedom to make mistakes as well as to act wisely. Negatively not being
coerced or manipulated. Self determination acknowledges that sound growth emanates from within.

7. Principle of Confidentiality
Confidential means private or secret; something treated with trust, resulting in a feeling of security
that information will not be disclosed to other parties. An example is the confidentiality of
conversations and records between attorney and client.

8. Principle of Accountability
9. Principle of Access to Resources

Principles of Social Work

1 It is essential that problems do exist and that there is no stigma attached to any maladjusted
2 Many problems arise out of environment and circumstances over which an individual has no
3 A solution can be sought to every problem, because of the belief that conditions can be
created to help the maladjusted persons to adjust to the environment.
4 Individual / community is to be helped to help himself / themselves. His / their participation is
necessary. A social worker should act as an agent to enlist peoples’ support for programs.
5 Total personality of the individual is to be studied in order to help him.
6 Total needs of the individual, group, or community are to be taken into consideration while
trying to help them.
7 Relationship is the key-note of all types of work.
8 Self help programs require the use of local resources, in terms of humans, money and
material, so that dependence on outside help could be minimized, if not avoided.
9 People in need should be helped by placing them back in the community rather than sending
them to institutions except in case of mental, social, physical and emotional maladjustments
which require specialized treatment.
10 Apart from treatment of social problems, social work should also evolve ways and means of
providing preventive services, like public health and social security programs
Introduction to Social Work - Paul Chowdhry –p22

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Objectives of Social Work
Objectives of Social Work
1. To provide people physical help
2. TO help them in adjustment

3. To solve their psychological problems

4. To make available the opportunities to the weaker sections for raising their standard of living

1. Bringing change in painful social situations

2. Development of constructive forces
3. Providing opportunities for experimenting democratic and humanistic behaviour

1. To give assistance to individuals in removing difficulties which they face in utilizing the

society’s resources
2. Utilization of community resources for their welfare
1. Social Work seeks to see and assist individuals, families and groups in relation to many social
& economic forces by which they are affected

1. Social Work seeks to perform an integrating function for which no other provision is made in
contemporary society
2. Social Work seeks to maximize the resources available in the community by promoting social
well being

Purpose / Goals of Social Work

The NASW “Working Statement on Purpose” defines the unifying purpose or mission of social
work as “promoting or restoring a mutually beneficial interaction between individuals and
society in order to improve the quality of life for everyone”

In response to the mission of the profession,

social workers strengthen human functioning Enchance
and enhance the effectiveness of the functioning
structures in society that provide resources
and opportunities for citizens. Social workers
strive to release human power so that
individuals can actualize their potential and
contribute to the well being of society. Social Promote Link client
workers at the same time initiate activities that social Pu rpose /
Goals of
system with
justice needed
release the social power that creates changes through Social resources
social policy Wo rk
in society that in turn create changes in social
policies, social institutions and other social
structures in the society.

The dual focus of social work on people and Improve the

their social environment raises questions about social
the interconnections between private troubles delivery
net work
and public issues. Social work acknowledges
that private troubles and public issues

The cumulative effects of personal troubles are public issues. Likewise, individuals feel the
repecussions of public issues personally as private troubles.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Strengths and Needs
The mission of social work profession as well as the statements of its goals and objectives implicitly
concern human needs and human strengths.
Human needs are the substance of the social work profession – the impetus for social work activities.
Human strengths are the building blocks of social work practice – the source of energy for developing

Evolving Ethics for Social Work Practice

Historical Periods of the Code Values vs. Ethics
 The Code has evolved over time.  Values are the implicit and
– Morality Period-Late 20th Century explicit ideas about what we
– Values Period-Appeared 1950’s cherish as ideal or preferable 
– Ethical Theory & Decision-Making Period-Early 1980’s values determines which goals
– Ethical Standards & Risk Management Period-1996 to current and actions we evaluate as
“good”. Our values shapes our
beliefs and attitude and vise
History of the Social Work Professional Code of Ethics versa.
•1919-First attempt at drafting a Code for the profession of Social  Ethics relates to what people
Work-Mary Richmond credited in form of an “Experiential” Code consider correct or right  ethics
•1947—American Association of Social Workers created first generates standards that direct
one’s conduct. Ethics represents
formal code for the profession
“values in action”
•NASW-Established as the professional association for social
workers in 1955 and adopts the first Code five years later in 1960 as the “guide” to the everyday
professional conduct of social workers in the profession
•Revised Five Times Since Its Creation
•1979—More comprehensive than first and useful for resolving ethical conflicts,
•1989—Eliminated Standards that prohibited the solicitation of clients to a private practice because of
a consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and in recognition of client self-
•1993—Added Standards pertaining to Dual/Multiple Relationships and to impaired social workers,
•1996—Modified numerous areas of the Code and made it more comprehensive
•2001—Clarified Language around the areas of Privacy & Confidentiality

Purpose of the Code for Today’s Practice How Values Influence Practice
 Influence forming of relationships
–“Guide” Practitioners in resolving ethical dilemmas that arise  Influence views of situations
in practice  Influence selection of options
–Protect the public from incompetent  Diversity often signals value differences
–To Protect the Public
–To Describe the Responsibilities & Expectations of Social Workers to their Clients, Colleagues,
Employers and the Society
–To Assist the Social Worker in Developing Ethical Problem and Decision Making Skills as well as
Develop Strategies to Address the Ethical Dilemma.
–To Summarize the Social Work Profession’s Mission and Core Values

Code of Ethics
 Professional Sections
– “Preamble”-summarizes the social work profession's mission and core values
– “Purpose”-provides an overview of Code’s main functions and a brief guide for dealing with ethical
issues or dilemmas in social work practice
– “Principles”-presents broad ethical principles, based on social work’s core values, that inform
social work practice
–“Standards”-includes specific ethical standards to guide social workers’ conduct and to provide a
basis for adjudication 15
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Professional Code vs. State Licensure Regulations
 Code applies to all degreed professionals within the
field of practice Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 Code is regulated by professional association  ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE BORN FREE AND
 Code incorporates values, principles and standards  Protection of life
 Code has the highest level of practice expectation  Right to equality
 Code is directed towards the professional  Right to autonomy
 State Regulations only apply to those who are  Right to a decent quality of life
licensed  Right to privacy
within their jurisdiction December 10, 1948 30 Articles http://www.un.org

 State Regulations are minimum standards of practice

 State Regulations are directed at protecting the public or consumer of the service

Identify Ethical Dilemmas

 Review the Following Situational Questions
– Am I having a conflict with my practice around the issue of the Law?
– Am I having a conflict with my practice around the issue of My Own Personal Views?
– Am I having a conflict with my practice around a Section of the Code of Ethics?
– Am I having a conflict with my practice which has a lot of Gray Area?

Steps for Ethical Problem Solving

1. Determine - - Is there a conflict of values, or rights, or professional responsibilities?
2. Identify - - What meanings and limitations are typically attached to these competing values?
3. Rank - - What reasons can you provide for prioritizing one competing value/principle over
4. Develop - - Have you conferred with clients and colleagues, as appropriate, about the potential
risks and consequences of alternative courses of action?
5. Implement - - How will you make use of core social work skills such as sensitive communication,
skillful negotiation, and cultural competence?
6. Reflect - - How would you evaluate the consequences of this process for those involved: client
(s); professional (s); and agency (ies)?

Case Scenario #1
In the course of treatment of a coworker’s former client, a social worker learns that the client and her
former therapist were sexually involved during the same time that they had engaged in a professional
relationship. The clients report that she has not told others in the agency about the relationship. The
social worker would like to discuss the issue with her supervisor and the client’s former therapist-
lover. The client prefers that the social worker not discuss this matter with her former therapist or
with supervisory staff at the agency.

Scenario Commentary #1
Competing Values:
– Client’s right to Self-Determination
– Therapist unethical behavior with client
– Agency’s integrity

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

NASW Ethical Standards

1.Social workers’ ethical responsibilities to clients
2.Social workers’ ethical responsibilities to colleagues
3.Social workers’ ethical responsibilities in practice settings
4.Social workers’ ethical responsibilities as professionals
5.Social workers’ ethical responsibilities to the social work profession, and
6.Social workers’ ethical responsibilities to the broader society
NASW Ethical Principles
1. Service: SWer’s primary goal is to help people in need and to address social problems
2. Social Justice: SWers challenge social injustice
3. Dignity and Worth of the Person: SWers respect the inherent dignity and worth of the person
4. Importance of Human Relationships: SWers recognize the central importance of human
5. Integrity: SWers behave in a trustworthy manner.
6. Competence: SWers practice within their areas of competence and develop and enhance their
professional expertise.
NASW Social Work Practice Principles
a. Empathy
b. Individualization: Affirms each client’s unique and distinctive characteristics
c. Non-judgmentalism: Maintains unbiased attitudes toward clients
d. Objectivity: Promotes professional caring, concerns, and commitment in working with clients

Case Scenario #2
A substance abuse treatment social worker who works with a client who has lost her license to drive
a recent arrest for driving while intoxicated sees the client drive to the agency for her session. During
the counseling session, the social worker comes to believe that the client is under the influence of
alcohol. The client shares with her social worker her frustration over her need to drive to work and
other essential places as justification for her decision to occasionally drive without her license.

Scenario Commentary #2
The standard exceptions to confidentiality include disclosure of information shared by a client when it
is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or other identifiable
person or when laws, such as mandatory laws to report child abuse, require disclosure without a
client’s consent. A social worker should be knowledgeable about or obtain proper consultation about
relevant laws and regulations concerning disclosure. One might argue that the loss of one’s driver’s
Following international organizations provide the basic leadership for the globalization of
social work.
International Federation of Social Workers (ifsw)
International Association of Schools of Social Work (iassw)
Council on Social Work Education (cswe)

permit-unlikely as a consequence of a first offense-constitutes a dangerous situation and holds the

possibility of harm to the client or an innocent other.


Protect the “consumers'” or “clients” of social services;
Take account of the impact of globalization on social work curricula and social work practice:

Facilitate articulation across universities on a global level;

Facilitate the movement of social workers from country to another;

Drew a distinction between social workers and non-social workers;

Benchmark national standards against international standards;

Facilitate partnerships and international student and staff exchange programs;

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Ethical Principles and Values Hierarchies
Loewenberg & Dolgoff Ethical Principles Screen
Loewenberg, F.M. & Dolgoff, R. (2000). Ethical Decisions for Social Work Practice (6th ed.).
To be used when an applicable code of ethics does not provide specific rules
 Principle of the protection of life
 Principle of equality and inequality
 Principle of autonomy and freedom
 Principle of least harm
 Principle of quality of life
 Principle of privacy and confidentiality

Professional Boundaries
 A social worker shall not become involved in a client’s personal affairs that are not relevant to the
service being provided
 A social worker shall not exploit the relationship with a client for personal benefit, gain or
 The social worker shall distinguish between actions and statements made as a private citizen and
actions and statements as a social worker
 The social worker shall not have a sexual relationship with a client or client’s relatives
 The social worker shall not have a business relationship with a client
 ? Principle
Huggingof a truthfulness
client, and going to lunch
and full with a client

Social Work Values Hierarchy

Reamer, F.G. (1999). Social Work Values and Ethics (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press
 Rules against basic harm to an individuals survival take precedence over rules against harms such
as lying or revealing confidential information or threats to additive goods;
 An individual's right to basic well-being takes precedence over another individual's right to self
 An individual's right to self-determination takes precedence over his or her right to basic well-
 The obligation to obey laws, rules and regulations to which one has voluntarily and freely
consented ordinarily overrides one's right to engage voluntarily and freely in a manner that
conflicts with these;
 Individuals' rights to well-being may override laws, rules, regulations and arrangements of
voluntary associations in cases of conflict;
 The obligation to prevent basic harms and to promote public goods such as housing, education
and public assistance overrides the right to complete control over one's property.

Medical Model Principles Hierarchy

Beauchamp, T.L. and Childress, J.F. (1989). Principles of Biomedical Ethics. Respect for autonomy;
 Nonmaleficence - do no harm;
 Beneficence - actively pursue the welfare of others;
 Justice - allocation of resources, fairness, need

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Social Work Levels of Intervention

4 Communities
3 Complex Organizations
2 Formal Groups
1 Members of Families & Groups
Social Work Intervention

Members of Families
Social Work Intervention
1 & Groups
1 Social Work Levels of Intervention

2 Intervention at the Micro Level

Social Work Intervention 6

Formal Groups 5 Society

Social Work Intervention

3 Intervention at the Midlevel

5 Communities

4 Intervention at the Macro Level

Determinants of Social Functioning

Individuals Families & Groups Organizat- Community Society World
Groups ions community
 Genetics  Size  Size  Bureaucracy  Housing Technology  Hunger
 Prenatal  Composition  Focus /  Personnel  Transportation Social  World
Health  Unity purpose Management  Economy values poverty
 Nutrition  Communica  Past history  Membership  Availability of Social  Foos
 Developme - tion together roles jobs class shortage
-tal Disability  Rules  Developmental  Governance  Educational Stratification  Ecology
 Disabling  Roles Stage  Organizational resources Institutions  World
Condition  Values  Communicatio behavior  Standard Alienation health
 Health  Relationship -n pattern  Administrative of living Economic  Space
 Personality Patterns  Decision functions  Cultural cycles exploration
 Mental  Natural making style  Socialization diversity Social Policy  Human
Health Support Systems  Overt /  Committee  Diversity Government rights
 Life  Socio covert goals structure of life style The“isms”  Populati
Experiences economic level  Interpersonal  Group  Environmental Prejudice on base
 Coping  Functional relationship cohesion stress Demographic  Political
Capacity Capacity  Divergence  Conflict  Availability of trends climate
 Self  Kinship in individual resolution style resources Pop culture  Energy
Concept networks goals & group  Mission of  Support Laws &  Power &
 Income /  Multi goals purpose networks legislation authoity base
Assets generational  Norms /  Day to day  Relative  Threat
 Age patterns values of group operations social class of war
 Life Style  Leadership  Decision  Urban /  Internati
 Cultural roles making process rural nature onal
Heritage  Length of
 Ethnicity time group will
 Developmen meet
tal Stage  Manner of
 Motivation managing
 Cognitive conflicts
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
(Developed by Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

 The Declaration of Ethics for Professional Social Workers is intended to serve as a guide to the
members of the social work profession, who have obtained minimally a bachelor's degree in social work
and, thus, base their work on recognized knowledge, philosophy and skills. The Declaration is rooted in
the contemporary social reality which has a historical background and in the framework of humanistic
values, based on the intrinsic worth of all human and non-human life.

Need for Ethics

Ethical behavior is necessary for a society to function in an orderly manner. The need for ethics in
society is sufficiently important that many commonly held ethical values are incorporated into laws
Why People Act Unethically
The person’s ethical standards are different from those of society as a whole
The person chooses to act selfishly.
A Person Chooses to Act Selfishly – Example
Person A finds a briefcase containing important papers and Rs10, 000.
He tosses the briefcase and keeps the money.
He brags to his friends about his good fortune.
This action probably differs from most of society.
Person B faces the same situation but responds differently.
He keeps the money but leaves the briefcase
He tells nobody and spends the money.
He has violated his own ethical standards and chose to act selfishly.
Resolve ethical dilemmas using an ethical framework.
Ethical Dilemmas
An ethical dilemma is a situation a person faces in which a decision must be made about appropriate
Rationalizing Unethical Behavior
 Everybody does it If it’s legal, it’s ethical. Likelihood of discovery and consequences

 The Bhakti movement promoted the value of humanism, that is, every individual
has inherent worth and dignity, irrespective of attributes and achievements. Every
person, therefore, has an innate capability to run his/her own life. Democracy
emphasizes participatory process in the decision making of an entity and
accountability of that entity to its members.

 Socialism has promoted the values of equality and legal, judicial, social and
economic justice for satisfaction of basic human needs, sharing of natural resources
and access to essential services. While equality highlighted non-hierarchy and non-
discrimination based on equal worth of every person, the growing value of equity
emphasizes recognition of differences, diversity and pluralism.

 The ideology of Sarvodaya has emphasized the values of Swarajya and Lokniti, that is people have to
govern themselves in order to obtain equity and justice. This ideology accepts that people are
knowledgeable about their situation and the ways to manage them, given the necessary resources. It
acknowledges that they have the right to plan their own destinies and determine their life styles. It
appreciates that local solutions must be congruent with local resource realities.
 The social work profession is committed to solidarity with the marginalized peoples. The basic
human rights are very often violated for people, who lack economic, physical, mental, social and/or
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
emotional resources. Lack of resources lead to powerlessness and, thereby marginalization of people
by the social, economic and political systems. Marginalized people are vulnerable to deprivation and
exploitation by those who yield power as they have control over resources.

 The profession recognizes that marginalized people need to be empowered so that they
themselves play a dominant role for their development and welfare. Empowerment is the process of
gaining control over self as well as the resources which determine power. This process aims at
reforming the nature and direction of the systemic forces which marginalize the powerless. Systemic
change is an imperative for redistributive justice.

 The Declaration provides general ethical principles to guide conduct of professional social workers with
respect to self and the profession, work with the marginalized and other people in need, the society
and the state, co-workers and employing organizations and social work education and research. In its
practical application, the entire Declaration and its spirit are of importance, and must be viewed
holistically, rather than considering a particular ethical principle in isolation. This also implies that the
application of ethical principles must be judged within the context in which they are being considered.

Declaration of Ethics for Professional Social Workers

Value Framework
As a professional social worker, I pledge to promote the following values in myself, in the profession and
in the society.
1. I pledge to perceive people as having inherent worth and dignity, irrespective of their
attributes and achievements and having the capability of continuing development; and I pledge to
perceive myself and other people as part of nature, needing to live in harmony with other non-human
2. I pledge to work towards the overall well-being of all people in the spirit of Sarvodaya,
through the achievement of the following goals:
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Equity, non-hierarchy and non-discrimination of human groups in terms of race, religion, tribe, language,
regional origin, gender, sexual orientation and other such factors, and condemning segregation /
apartheid / discrimination among them;
Social, economic, political and legal justice, ensuring satisfaction of basic needs and integrity and
security, universal access to essential resources and protective safeguards for the marginalized people;
People-centered development, in the spirit of Swarajya and democracy from micro- to macro-levels,
where people participate to determine their life styles and goals for development.

3. I pledge to work with people, guided by the following values:

Solidarity and partnership with the marginalized people; and Peaceful and non-violent approaches in the
spirit of Ahimsa for resolving conflicts with self, others and the environment.

The Tata Institute of Social Ethical Responsibility to Self and the Profession
Sciences (TISS) was As the first essential to social work practice, I shall constantly seek an
established in 1936, as the understanding of myself and change my attitudes and
Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate
prejudices which may affect my work.
School of Social Work. The
first school of social work in  I shall be sensitive to and respect the feelings and thinking of
India, the TISS was a others, understands behaviors, avoid stereotypes and recognize
pioneering effort, individuality in every person.
characteristic of the Sir
Dorabji Tata Trust (SDTT). Its  I accept with humility and openness, the need to learn and shall
establishment was the result imbibe the spirit of inquiry to constantly update my knowledge
of the decision of the base and intervention strategies.
Trustees of the SDTT to
accept Dr. Clifford
 I shall gear my practice upon relevant knowledge and in the
Manshardt’s vision of a
post-graduate school of social changing socioeconomic, geographical and cultural context.
work of national stature that
would engage in a continuous  I shall use my knowledge, power and status as a professional,
study of Indian social issues for the well-being of all and not misuse these for personal gains.
and problems and impart
education in social work to  I shall intervene into the personal affairs of another
meet the emerging need for individual only with his/her consent, except when I must act to
trained human power. This
prevent injury to him/her or to others, in accordance with the legal
subsequently influenced the
direction of social work
education and social research
in India.  In order to ensure credibility and integrity of the social work
profession, I shall constantly review it and work towards its

 I shall work to promote networking among social work professionals, other professionals and
like-minded individuals and organizations, at the micro- and macro-levels, to work towards people-
centered development.

 I shall work towards developing and strengthening of professional associations, which are
means for development of the profession.
 I shall facilitate development of the new entrants to the profession.

Ethical Responsibility to the Marginalized and Other People in Need

My primary professional response and accountability are to the marginalized and other people in need I
work with. My commitment and professional stand shall be with them.
 I shall empathize with people's marginalization and thereby respect and give credence/value to
their life experiences.
 I shall work towards changing the systemic and contextual forces which marginalize people,
on behalf of and in partnership with them. 22
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
 I shall respect people's right for self-determination, and shall ensure that they themselves play
an active role in relation to the course of action to be taken about their life situation.
 I shall nurture a relationship of partnership with people that promote mutual reflection on our life
situation and our development.
 I shall facilitate people's access to opportunities and resources and empower them for work
towards their stated goal.
 I shall share with people, accurate and relevant information regarding the extent and nature of
help available to them, that is, opportunities, rights, strengths, limitations and risks associated with the
intervention offered.
 I shall enable and encourage people to work with other individuals, organizations and
groups, when such collaboration is in the best interest of the well-being for all.
 I shall obtain people's consent before recording or permitting third party observation of their
activities after informing them about its purpose and utility.
 I shall keep confidential; all matters shared by them, and shall inform them fully about the limits of
privileged communication in a given situation.
 I shall facilitate people's access to official records concerning them, if asked by them. While
doing so, I shall take due care to protect the confidence of others covered by these records.
 I shall ensure that payment for services by people, if necessary, are fair and commensurate with the
intervention provided, and within the capacity for such payment of the people served.
 When I perceive the need to withdraw from the helping process, I shall give consideration to all factors
in the situation and shall take care to minimize possible adverse effects on the people.
 When I anticipate discontinuation of my intervention, I shall notify them promptly and seek
transfer, referral or continuation of service, with consideration to their needs and preferences.
 I shall not pursue a relationship or use any coercive means to continue services, which the
people served wish to terminate, and shall offer suggestions or alternative help that they can avail of.

Ethical Responsibility to the Society and the State

 It is my ethical responsibility to promote implementation of the Fundamental Rights and the
Directive Principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
 I shall work towards a society and a state that promotes equity, justice, Ahimsa, Swarajya
and Lokniti.
 I shall advocate changes in social systems and the State policies and legislation to promote
the above values.
 I shall encourage informed participation by the people in shaping State policies, legislation,
and programs.
 I shall respond and offer my professional services in events of emergencies at micro- and

Ethical Responsibility to Co-Workers and Employing Organizations

It is my ethical responsibility to respect the inherent worth and dignity of all my co-workers, that include
social workers, other professionals, auxiliary workers, volunteers and all those involved in the
development process, within and across organizations

 I shall cooperate with my co-workers towards development, accepting and respecting our
personal and professional differences.
 I shall contribute to the process of collective reflection and democratic decision-making when
working as a team.
 I shall acknowledge my co-workers' attributes and achievements and will be willing to learn from them.
 I shall respect confidences shared by my co-workers in the course of their professional
relationships and transactions.
 I shall promote a practice of mutual evaluation with co-workers for our professional
 When I am an employer or supervisor to my co-workers, I shall ensure clarity of goals in delegation of
roles and responsibilities, provide opportunities for growth, give them due credits and jointly review
their performance on the basis of goals and clearly enunciate criteria. 23
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
 I shall act to promote humanistic values and ethical practices in my employing organization’s policies
and practices.
 I shall ensure that the organization’s resources are used judiciously and for the purpose they are
 I shall periodically monitor and evaluate the organization’s policies and programs by maintaining
records, self reflection on people's feedback and feedback from the co-workers.

Ethical Responsibility to Social Work Education and Research

When teaching and training, it is my ethical responsibility to be conversant with the learners' needs,
readiness and goals.
 I shall keep my knowledge update about social work and the subjects I teach through field experience,
reading and training.
 While teaching and training I shall impart knowledge, inculcate attitudes and develop skills within the
value framework of the profession.
 I shall recognize the importance of partnership between practitioners and educators for the purpose of
social work education and training.
 I shall develop a nurturing relationship with students, encouraging openness and self study and
facilitating sharing and discussions in a learning situation.
 I shall, whenever possible, undertake demonstration of people-centered field action projects for the
purpose of research and documentation, training and replication.
 I shall share the knowledge I gain with other social work educators and practitioners.
 I shall contribute to the knowledge base of social work education through my practice wisdom,
documentation as well as research.
 I shall expose the students to the professional associations and orient them about their role in
developing and strengthening them.
 When carrying out a research, I shall carefully select the topic for research considering its possible
consequences for human beings within the value framework of the profession and towards the goals of
people-centered development.
 I shall consider the informants of my research as my co-partners in understanding the phenomenon. I
shall, therefore, share my research objectives with them and get their informed and voluntary consent,
respect their knowledge and attitude about their life situation, and share/interpret the findings with
 I shall not cause them inadvertent physical or mental discomfort, distress or harm, through my
 I shall protect the confidentiality of the information shared by them and use the findings for their
benefit, by revising policies and programs concerning them.
 I shall provide information services to them, as and when necessary, during the process of data
 I shall acknowledge in my paper, the published as well as unpublished material and personal
discussions that have directly influenced my paper.

Background of the Declaration

This `Declaration of Ethics for Professional Social Workers' has been prepared by the Social Work
Educators' Forum (SWEF) at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The SWEF is a forum for social work
educators at the Institute to undertake meetings and activities with a goal to strengthen social work
profession and education. In the meetings scheduled by the SWEF in 1991, a need was felt to formulate
a document on ethics for professional social workers. An initial draft prepared by a sub-committee was
discussed and revised through several in-house meetings. The draft was also circulated for feedback at
the National Workshop on Social Work Practice and Education held in May 1993 and discussed at a
Workshop in February 1995 along with the members of the faculty of the College of Social Work at
Nirmala Niketan and the members of the Bombay Association of Trained Social Workers. It was also sent
to some senior social work educators. Feedback obtained from all are incorporated in this Sixth Draft.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

Foundation of Social Work Practice in India

Religio Philosophical Foundation

Though social work is not practiced in its present form, serving the people and helping the needy has
been considered almost a moral duty to everyone. In this regard several prescriptions are also laid
down for the individuals to follow. Traditionally social work in India is more person based and not
institution based.
Religio philosophical foundation of social work in India is better understood to the following three
major titles.
1. Social welfare during Vedic Period
2. Hinduism and the philosophy of social welfare.
3. Buddhism and the philosophy of social welfare.
4. Jainism and the philosophy of Social Welfare

1. Social welfare during Vedic Period

The Vedas are the scriptures derived from the Vedic period (c. 1500-700 BC)

Communitarian (a social order in which individuals are bound together by common values that
foster close communal bonds. A model of political organization that
stresses ties of affection, kinship, and a sense of common purpose and
tradition, as opposed to the meager morality of contractual ties
entered into between a loose conglomeration of individuals) republics
existed during the early Vedic period. In communitarian social order
the whole business of helping people in need was everybody’s business
mainly handles in a collective way. Thus every body was client and
agent both an different occasions and for different purposes. In early
days of Indian civilization both social life and social welfare were
almost inseparable

2.Hinduism and the philosophy of social welfare.

According to Hindu philosophy human beings should revere, respect
and love all, because, God, the supreme being pervades all and
immanent in all things and beings. The goal of life is to realize the self,
which is nothing but GOD, for this one needs to rise into higher
spheres of thinking, feeling and acting and help others to achieve the same.
The rules and regulation prescribed to achieve self realization are known as Manushya Dharmas. It is
“Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know
that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within
yourselves. Therefore, make your own future.” - Swami Vivekananda
elaborated as yamas (actions to be avoided) and niyamas (actions to be followed)
These virtues are enriched by the additional virtues of Dana, Daya and Kshanthi
Dana: it is understood as charity in the form of alms giving to the deserving.
Daya means compassion to all
Kshanthi patience and forgiveness
The popular Hindu saying expresses Janata Seva is Janardana Seva. The service of man is the service
of God. Janata Seva means helping the people. Serving his fellow human beings is an instrument to
realize Self – God or Janardana. The reward for Janata Seva is the enlargement of the self.

At later days, Mary Richmond, a social work pioneer, while explaining the underlying philosophy of
social work, mentioned about wider self. The concept of wider self match the Hindu concept of larger
or greater self.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Yama and Niyama
Yama is a "moral restraint" or rule for living virtuously. Ten yamas are codified in numerous scriptures, including
the Hatha Yoga Pradipika compiled by Yogi Swatmarama, while Patanjali lists five yamas, and five niyamas
(disciplines) in the Yoga Sutra.
The ten traditional yamas are:
Ahimsa: Nonviolence. Abstinence from injury, or harm to any living creature in thought, word, or deed. This is
the "main" Yama. The other nine are there in support of its accomplishment.
Satya: Truthfulness in word and thought (in conformity with the facts).
Asteya: No stealing, no coveting, no entering into debt.
Brahmacharya: Divine conduct, continence, celibate when single, faithful when married.
Kshama: Patience, releasing time, functioning in the now.
Dhriti: Steadfastness, overcoming non-perseverance, fear, and indecision; seeing each task through to
Daya: Compassion; conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.
Arjava: Honesty, straightforwardness, renouncing deception and wrongdoing.
Mitahara: Moderate appetite, neither eating too much nor too little; nor consuming meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or
Shaucha: Purity, avoidance of impurity in body, mind and speech.
Patanjali's five yamas, or moral restraints, are ahimsa (non-injury), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-
stealing), brahmacharya (continence or chastity) and aparagriha (abstinence from avarice). He also lists five
niyamas, or disciplines, which include shauca (purity), samtosha (contentment), tapas (asceticism),
svadhyaya (study), and ishvara-pranidhana (devotion to the Lord).

3. Buddhism and the philosophy of social welfare.

By the performance of acts of punna (punyam) and the avoidance of acts (pavam)
of papa one contributes to social welfare while gradually transforming oneself in
such a way that noble qualities of mind conducive to produce the maturity and
insight that bring full liberation of the mind could sooner or later be attained. Until
such time as one attains the final liberation, acts of punna protect a person from
falling into unhappy rebirths and furnishes one with all the desirable material
conditions of living. Buddhism provides a great incentive to believers by
emphasizing the effects of punna_deeds to engage in acts of social welfare. The
concept of punna is connected with the doctrines of kamma and rebirth. These
doctrines appeal to the concern of everyone with one's own interest and have the effect of preventing
people who have faith in them to avoid engaging in any conduct that is productive of suffering to
others and encouraging them to do positive good to others which is productive of beneficial effects to

It is to be noted that the Buddhist notion of social welfare is wider than a purely mundane notion in
such a way that it includes an awareness of the material needs that are necessary for the promotion
of social welfare. The welfare of people can be promoted only when all their needs are adequately
fulfilled. Humanist psychologists have pointed out that human beings have a hierarchy of needs. xv
They do not attain their real humanity unless certain higher and uniquely human needs are also
satisfied. Buddhism can fully agree with that view, for Buddhism recognizes the necessity to attend to
the basic material needs of man not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end which is much
higher than that. The greatest happiness that a human being can attain by becoming entirely free
from the corruptions of mind is considered in Buddhism as the highest in the hierarchy of human

4. Jainism and the philosophy of social welfare.

Jains believe that all living beings possess a soul, and therefore great care and
awareness is required in going about one's business in the world. Jainism is a
religion in which all life is considered worthy of respect and it emphasizes this
equality of all life, advocating the protection of even the smallest creatures. This
goes as far as the life of a fly. A major characteristic of Jain belief is the emphasis
on the consequences of not only physical but also mental behaviors.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Islam is the name of a religion founded by Muhammad in ancient Arabia in the 7th century. People
who follow Islam are called Muslims. They believe in only one God, That God is called Allah, which is
the Arabic phrase for "the (only) God". Islam has more followers than Roman Catholicism with 1.3
billion followers which makes it the worlds largest religion dating today. It is also the fastest growing
religion in the world.

The Five Pillars of Islam

There are five things that Muslims should do. They are called "The Five Pillars
of Islam".
1. Faith: The Testimony (al-Shaada in Arabic) is the Muslim belief that there is
no god but Allah Himself, and that Muhammad is His messenger.
2. Prayer: Muslims pray five times at special times of the day.[2]
3. Charity: Muslims who have money must give alms (Zakah or Zakat in
Arabic) to help poor Muslims in the local community.
4. Fasting: Muslims fast during Ramadan, They do not eat or drink from
sunrise till sunset for one lunar month.
5. Hajj (Pilgrimage): Muslims in general who can afford or who have made the Hajj must buy an
animal according to the Islamic criteria to sacrifice and cook as food or give away to the poor, if they
have the money for it.

Christianity is a faith based on the believed life and teaching of Jesus. Christians believe by faith that
all who sin (disobey God) even once wouldn't go to heaven, even if they did good
things, so God gave His own Son, Jesus, to die, so that Christians can "substitute"
Jesus' sinless life for themselves. Christians believe that no matter how many sins
or how much evil a person has done, they will still go to heaven by taking Jesus as
a substitute for his/her own sin. It is a unique religion in the sense that the
believer's good or bad deeds do not determine their eternal salvation. Rather, it is
the sinless life of Jesus and the sacrificial death of Jesus that is the way to heaven.
Thus, Jesus is their "Savior" and they are "saved" by Him, and not because of
anything they did on their own.

Charity - Showing love for people

The word "Charity" gets its roots form the Latin word "caritas", meaning love. In 1 Peter 4:8a (King
James Version), Peter writes; "And above all things have fervent "charity" among yourselves." Simply
put, this verse says that a Christian is to have complete love to each other. And in Mark 12:31b (King
James Version) Jesus, when asked what was the greatest commandment, replied that first is to love
the Lord, "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt "love" thy neighbor as thyself. There is
none other commandment greater than these." So in Jesus' own words, it is vital to the Christian
belief, that a Christian, have Charity (or love), to each other.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

Contributions of Ancient Indian Kings to Social Welfare

Ashoka, the Great

As the third emperor of the Mauryan
dynasty, Ashoka was born in the year 304
B.C. His greatest achievements were
spreading Buddhism throughout his empire
and beyond. He set up an ideal government
for his people and conquered many lands,
expanding his kingdom.
H. G. Wells wrote of Ashoka:
In the history of the world there have been
thousands of kings and emperors who
called themselves 'their highnesses,' 'their
majesties,' and 'their exalted majesties' and so on. They shone for a brief
moment, and as quickly disappeared. But Ashoka shines and shines brightly like a
bright star, even unto this day.

Kanishka was a king of the Kushan Empire in Central Asia, ruling an
empire extending to large parts of India in the 2nd century of the common
era, famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements. His main
capital was at Peshawar (Purushpura) in northwestern Pakistan, with
regional capitals at the location of the modern city of Taxila in Pakistan,
Begram in Afghanistan and Mathura in India.

Gupta Chandra Gupta

Ghatotkacha (c. 280–319) AD, had a son named Chandra
Gupta. In a breakthrough deal, Chandra Gupta was married to
a Lichchhavi—the main power in Magadha. With a dowry of the
kingdom of Magadha (capital Pataliputra) i, conquering much
of maghadaѕ, Prayaga and Saketa. He established a realm
stretching from the Ganga River (Ganges River) to Prayaga
(modern-day Allahabad) by 321.

The Delhi Sultanate refers to the many Muslim dynasties that ruled in India from 1206 to 1526.
Several Turkic and Pashtun ("Afghan") dynasties ruled from Delhi: the Mamluk dynasty (1206-90),
the Khilji dynasty (1290-1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1413), the Sayyid dynasty (1414-51), and
the Lodhi dynasty (1451-1526). In 1526 the Delhi Sultanate was
absorbed by the emerging Mughal Empire.

Deccan sultanates
The Deccan sultanates were five Muslim-ruled late medieval
kingdoms–-Bijapur, Golkonda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar, and Berar of south-
central India. The Deccan sultanates were located on the Deccan
Plateau, between the Krishna River and the Vindhya Range. These
kingdoms became independent during the breakup of the Bahmani
Sultanate. In 1490, Ahmadnagar declared independence, followed by
Bijapur and Berar in the same year. Golkonda became independent in
1518 and Bidar in 1528. In 1510, Bijapur repulsed an invasion by the
Portuguese against the city of Goa, but lost it later that year. 28
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Mughal Rule
India in the 16th century had numerous unpopular rulers, both Muslim and Hindu, with an absence of
common bodies of laws or institutions. External developments also played a role in the rise of the
Mughal Empire. The circumnavigation of Africa by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498
allowed Europeans to challenge Arab control of the trading routes between Europe and Asia. In
Central Asia and Afghanistan, shifts in power pushed Babur of Ferghana (in present-day Uzbekistan)
southward, first to Kabul and then to India. The Mughal Empire lasted for more than three centuries.
The Mughal Empire was one of the largest centralized states in pre modern history and was the
precursor to the British Indian Empire.

International Federation of Social Workers

The International Federation of Social Workers is a successor to the International Permanent
Secretariat of Social Workers, which was founded in Paris in 1928 and was
active until the outbreak of World War II. It was not until 1950, at the time
of the International Conference of Social Work in Paris, that the decision was
made to create the International Federation of Social Workers, an
international organization of professional social workers.

The original agreement was that the IFSW would come into being when
seven national organizations agreed to become members. After much preliminary work, the
Federation was finally founded in 1956 at the time of the meeting of the International Conference on
Social Welfare in Munich, Germany.

Aims of the IFSW

The Constitution of the IFSW provides that the aims shall be:
 to promote social work as a profession through international co-operation,
especially regarding professional values, standards, ethics, human rights,
recognition, training and working conditions;
 to promote the establishment of national organizations of social workers or
professional unions for social workers and when needed national coordinating
bodies (collectively "Social Work Organizations") where they do not exist;
 to support Social Work Organizations in promoting the participation of social workers in social
planning and the formulation of social policies, nationally and internationally, the recognition of
social work, the enhancement of social work training and the values and professional standards of
social work.

In order to achieve these Aims the Federation shall:

 encourage co-operation between social workers of all countries;
 provide means for discussion and the exchange of ideas and experience through meetings,
study visits, research projects, exchanges, publications and other methods of communication;
 Establish and maintain relationships with, and present and promote the views of Social Work
Organizations and their members to international organizations relevant to social
development and welfare.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

The International Association of Schools of Social Work

IASSW, is the worldwide association of schools of social work, other tertiary level social work
educational programs, and social work educators. The IASSW promotes the development of social
work education throughout the world, develops standards to enhance quality of social work
education, encourages international exchange, provides forums for sharing social work research and
scholarship, and promotes human rights and social development through policy and advocacy
activities. IASSW holds consultative status with the United Nations and participates as an NGO in UN
activities in Geneva, Vienna and New York. Through its work at the UN and with other international
organizations, IASSW represents social work education at the international level.

The office of IASSW is located in the office of the President, Abye

Tasse at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. IASSW is governed by the
Board of Directors under a Constitution approved by the biennial
General Assembly. The mission of the association emphasizes the
promotion of world wide excellence in social work education and
engagement of a community of social work educators in international exchange of information and

IASSW carries out its purposes through:

• A biennial conference of social work educators, the IASSW Congress
• Publication of a newsletter
• Representation at the United Nations
• Co-sponsorship, with IFSW and ICSW of the journal International Social
• Activities of Committees and Task Forces
• Funding of small cross-national projects in social work education

Important recent policy documents include the Definition of Social Work; Global Standards for Social
Work Education and Training; and Ethics in Social Work:
Statement of Principles (all developed with the International
Federation of Social Workers).

IASSW was founded in 1928 at the First International

Conference of Social Work, held in Paris. It was initially
comprised of 51 schools, mostly in Europe, and was known as
the International Committee. Revitalized after World War II,
the organization expanded its membership to include a wider
range of countries and was renamed the International Association of Schools of Social Work. The
association has member schools in all parts of the world; 5 regional organizations in Africa; Asia and
the Pacific; Europe; Latin America; and North America and the Caribbean are affiliated with the
IASSW and represented on the Board of Directors.

Membership is open to tertiary level social work schools, individual social work educators, and others
specifically interested in social work education.

The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) is the association of boards that regulate social work.
ASWB develops and maintains the social work licensing
examination used across the country and in several Canadian
provinces, and is a central resource for information on the legal
regulation of social work. Through the association, social work
boards can share information and work together. ASWB is also
available to help individual social workers and social work students with questions they may have
about licensing and the social work examinations.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

National Association of Professional Social Workers in India

To advance excellence in education, training and practice of professional social work through -
Education, Research, Training, Networking, Advocacy, Resource
Development Objectives
 Increase awareness about social work
profession at various levels
 Promote the highest professional standards
and ethics in the practice of professional social
 Advance the knowledge and practice base of
social work interventions that enhance quality
of life and a standard of living of persons, their family and environment.
 Faster communication and foster support among professional social workers.
 Promote social change, empowerment and liberation of people to enhance their well-being adhering
to a principles of human rights and social justice.
 Promote research, action and other forms of continuing education for knowledge up- gradation of
 Advocate for programs and policies to meet the needs of social work fraternity and its various
clientele groups.

INDIA - Social Work Today

1. Social Work Today
Social work in India today has lost direction. This is not new. Many have
talked about social work being in crisis for over thirty years now. The
starting point for this Manifesto, however, is that the ‘crisis of social work’
can no longer be tolerated. We need to find more effective ways of
resisting the dominant trends within social work and map ways forward for
a new engaged practice.

Many of us entered social work – and many still do – out of a commitment

to social justice or, at the very least, to bring about positive change in
people’s lives. Yet increasingly the scope for doing so is curtailed.
Instead, our work is shaped by managerializm, by the fragmentation of
services, by financial restrictions and lack of resources, by increased
bureaucracy and work-loads, by the domination of care-management
approaches with their associated performance indicators and by the
increased use of the private sector. While these trends have long been 31
present in state social work, they now dominate the day-to-day work of front line social workers and
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
shape the welfare services that are offered to clients. The effect has been to increase the distance
between managers and front line workers on the one hand, and between workers and service users
on the other. The main concern of too many social work managers today is the control of budgets
rather than the welfare of service users, while worker-client relationships are increasingly
characterized by control and supervision rather than care.

Unless the fundamental direction of social work changes, then neither a new social work degree nor
new bodies such as the Social Care Councils will do anything to improve the current situation. These
are no more than ‘technical fixes’ for deep-rooted problems. So attempts by individual local
authorities to alleviate the staffing crisis by offering cash incentives – the so-called ‘golden hellos’ –
simply move the problem around.

In the absence of an organized response to these trends, people understandably react in different
individual ways. Some social workers may leave the profession, but for many this is not an option.
Some workers have found ways within their workplaces to occupy spaces where they can practice a
more rounded social work – in the voluntary sector, for example, or in more specialist projects - but
this option is not available to most. Even in the voluntary sector the trends are increasingly mirroring
the managerialist pattern of the statutory agencies.

And yet, the need for a social work committed to social justice and challenging poverty and
discrimination is greater than ever. In our view, this remains a project that is worth defending. More
than any other welfare state profession, social work seeks to understand the links between ‘public
issues’ and ‘private troubles’ and seeks to address both. It is for this reason that many who hold
power and influence in our society would be delighted to see a demoralized and defeated social work,
a social work that is incapable of drawing attention to the miseries and difficulties which beset so
many in our society. This alone makes social work worth fighting for.

The current degraded status of social work as a profession is inextricably related to the status and
standing of those we work with. Social work clients are amongst some of the most vulnerable and
impoverished in our society, and have benefited least from New Labor’s social welfare reforms. In
fact, under New Labor we have witnessed not only greater levels of material inequality, but also an
intensified demonisation of asylum seekers, young people and poor families, the very groups that
social workers engage with. Too often today social workers are often doing little more than supervis-
ing the deterioration of people’s lives.

So in opposition to those who would be happy to see a defeated and silenced social work occupation,
we are seeking a social work that has prevention at its heart and recognizes the value of collective
approaches. At the same time we also recognize that good casework has also suffered as a result of
the trends referred to above. We are looking to a social work that can contribute to shaping a
different kind of social policy agenda, based on our understanding of the struggles experienced by
clients in addressing a range of emotional, social and material problems and the strengths they bring
to these struggles.

2.An ethical career

The enduring crisis of social work in India has taught us many things. It has brought us to a state of
affairs that nobody in their right mind could possibly view as acceptable. It has taught us that there
can be no return to a past of professional arrogance and that progressive change must involve users
and all front line workers. As agents of change senior managers have had their day. It has reminded
us that budget dominated welfare systems are cruel and destructive of human well-being. The
casualties are everywhere in the social work system amongst clients and users and social workers.
These years of turmoil have highlighted that social work has to be defined not by its function for the
state but by its value base. Above all it has been a stark lesson in the need for collective organization,
both to defend a vision of social work based on social justice and also to defend the working
conditions that make that possible.
As we noted at the start of this Manifesto, in the past many people entered social work because it
seemed to offer a way of earning a living that did not involve oppressing or exploiting people, but on
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
the contrary could contribute, even in a small way, to social change. It was, in other words, an ethical
career. That potential for social change has all but been squeezed out of social work by the drives
towards marketization and managerialism that have characterized the last decade and a half. Yet
overwhelmingly it is still the case that people enter social work not to be care-managers or rationers
of services or dispensers of community punishment but rather to make a positive contribution to the
lives of poor and oppressed people. If it is the widening gap between promise and reality that breeds
much of the current anger and frustration amongst social workers, it is also the awareness that social
work could be much more than it is at present that leads many of us to hang on in there.

We note that the organization People and Planet includes social work within its ‘Ethical Careers
Service’. If that progressive promise is to be realized even in part, then we need to coalesce and
organize around a shared vision of what a genuinely anti-oppressive social work might be like.

This Manifesto is a small contribution towards the process of developing that vision and that


Professional training in social work in India was initiated by Dr. Clifford Manshardt, an American
protestant missionary. He came to India in 1925 through the American Marathi mission, a Protestant
Christian organization. This organization worked in slum communities of Bombay and founded the
Nagapada Neighborhood House in 1926, headed by Dr.Clifford Manshardt as its first Director. The
agency was similar to Settlement House in its objective and activities. It was located in an area,
which had many social problems including poverty, gambling and prostitution. Such problems were
the result of the fast changing social structure, which had weakened the family bond and community
togetherness. Manshardt mooted the idea of developing a school of social work to meet the need for
trained manpower to work in Indian conditions. With financing from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the
first school founded in 1936 was known as Sir Dorabji Graduate School of Social Work later renamed
as Tata Institute of Social Sciences in 1944.

Since then, Social work education in India has spawned seven decades during which it has attracted a
large number of youth to pursue a formal degree in Social Work, develop human service values and
work for the betterment of society. The journey has not been without its fair share of bumps and
jerks, but challenging and exciting, nevertheless. The problems these trained social workers confront
are common in Indian subcontinent. In order to ensure excellence in education, training and practice
of professional social work, we need very active professional associations. Though India has fairly a
long history of social work education as compared to other South Asian countries, professional
associations were formed much later in order to play huge proactive roles. Our existing associations
are yet to get permanent affiliation or membership in International Federation of Social Workers
(IFSW). As professionals we have a responsibility for making professional organizations vibrant. In
past, we had several associations such as

Labor Welfare Officers‟ Association, Probation Officers‟ Association, Association of Alumni of Schools
of Social Work in India, etc. There are few regional level associations as well, such as, Bombay
Association of Trained Social Workers (BATSW), Maharashtra Association of Social Work Educators
(MATSWE), Karnataka Association of Professional Social Workers (KAPSW), Professional Social
Workers Forum, Chennai (PSWFC), etc. The ambit of their activities rarely reaches beyond local level
meetings, seminars and they do not have much say or authority at the national level. The
professional bodies of social workers that function at the national level are mainly three, namely,
ASSWI, ISPSW and NAPSWI. Associations of Schools of Social Work in India (ASSWI) ASSWI was
established in 1959 at Baroda. It is a professional organization engaged in the promotion of standards
of social work education in the country. It has represented the profession by taking up social issues
and concerns related to social work education at the national level since the early sixties. This
association is functioning through its elected executive committee. Most of the members of ASSWI
are from Schools of Social Work/Departments of Social Work which were established during the 33
second half of the 20th century.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

The Indian Society of Professional Social Work (ISPSW)

The Indian Society of Professional Social Work (ISPSW) is the oldest association of professional social
workers in India. It has been geared towards the goal of Empowering Society for Social Development.
The Society was formerly known as Indian Society of Psychiatric Social Work. It was established in
the year 1970 by Dr. R.K.Upadhyaya and his staff of the Dept of Psychiatric Social Work, Central
Institute of Psychiatry, Ranchi. The present name of the Society was considered in the year 1988,
because of an increased representation of the trainers, practitioners and researchers of all
specialization of Social Work. The association primarily focuses on uniting the professional social
workers to debate, discuss and develop conceptual frameworks and feasible indigenous interventions
of social work for practice in India. In order to facilitate this purpose, the Society has conducted many
annual Conferences seminars and symposia on various social issues, all over India. Many of the life
members of this Society are representing various reputed National and International organizations,
Universities and other agencies all over the World. The Society regularly identifies and felicitates
esteemed personalities from the Social Work and its related fields.

National Association of Professional Social Workers in India (NAPSWI)

NAPSWI is a non profit, non- political, national level organization dedicated to the promotion of
standard and status of social work profession in India. The association received legal status as a
society under the Society Registration Act XXI of 1860 on 9th September 2005. This national
association comprises social work institutions, schools and departments, educators, practitioners as
well as students from every state in the country. Senior citizens are also provided membership.
NAPSWI intends to fulfill the twin purpose of promoting the social work profession across the country
with the aim of improving the quality of services in the social welfare and social development sectors
on one hand and to protect interests of social work professionals on the other hand. NAPSWI aims to
advance excellence in education, training and practice of professional social work through -
Education, Research, Training, Networking, Advocacy and Resource Development. Objectives of
NAPSWI are as follows:

 Increase awareness about social work profession at various levels;

 Promote the highest professional standards and ethics in the practice of professional social work;
 Advance the knowledge and practice base of social work interventions that enhance quality of life
and standard of living of persons, their family and environment;
 Faster communication and support among professional social workers;

Promote social change, empowerment and liberation of people to enhance their well being adhering
to the principles of human rights and social justice;
Promote research, action and other forms of continuing education for knowledge up- gradation of
members; and Advocate for programs and policies to meet the needs of social work fraternity and its
various clientele groups.

With the launching of social work program by dint of Open and Distance Learning in India through
IGNOU, a new chapter has been opened for professional social workers in the Indian sub-continent
since 2004.This initiative of IGNOU has taken social work education to the door steps of the un-
reached in far flung areas i.e. from Kashmir to Campbell Bay in Andaman and Nicobar Islands and all
the states in the North-East. There is flexible admission procedures adopted by IGNOU: any one
having the required entry qualification can pursue social work education at Bachelors, Masters and
Doctoral level without restrictions on age, place of residence and occupational status. The Annual
National Seminar being organized by IGNOU in collaboration with NAPSWI is a meeting place for
professional social work educators, practitioners and students from any state and union territory in
the country. This annual event is gaining momentum with the support of ASSWI, several universities
and international organizations.

S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work

Critical Social Work /Radical Social Work

Critical social work is the application of social work to address social injustices, as opposed to
focusing on individual people's problems. Critical theories explain social problems as arising from
various forms of oppression. This theory is like all social
1 Introducción
work theories, in that it is made up of a polyglot of theories
2 History
from across the the humanities and sciences, borrowing
3 Focus of critical social work
from many different schools of thought.
4 Sub-theories of critical social work
5 Dialectic explanations of free will
6 Practice models Introduction
Social workers have an ethical commitment to working to
overcome inequality and oppression. For radical social workers this implies working towards the
transformation of capitalist society towards building social arrangements which are more compatible
with these commitments. Mullaly & Keating (1991) suggest three schools of radical thought
corresponding to three versions of socialist analysis; social democracy,

Revolutionary Marxism and evolutionary Marxism. However they work in institutional contexts
which paradoxically implicates them in maintaining capitalist functions. Social work theories have
three possible aims, as identified by Rojek et al (1983). These are:

The progressive position. Social work is seen as a catalyst for social change. Social workers work
with the oppressed and marginalised and so are in a good position to harness class resistance to
capitalism and transform society into a more social democracy or socialist state. ( Bailey & Brake,
1975[2], Galper, 1975, Simpkin, 1979, Ginsberg, 1979)

The reproductive position. Social work seen as an indispensable tool of the capitalist social order.
It’s function is to produce and maintain the capitalist state machine and to ensure working class
subordination. Social workers are the ‘soft cops’ of the capitalist state machine. (Althusser, 1971,
Poulantzas, 1975, Muller & Neususs, 1978)

The contradictory position. Social work can undermine capitalism and class society. While it acts
as an instrument of class control it can simultaneously create the conditions for the overthrow of
capitalist social relations. (Corrigan & Leonard, Phillipson, 1979, Bolger, 1981)

Critical social work is heavily influenced by Marxism, the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory
and by the earlier approach of Radical social work, which was focused on class oppression. Critical
social work evolved from this to oppose all forms of oppression. Several writers helped codify radical
social work, such as Jeffry Galper (1975) and Harold Throssell (1975). They were building on the
views expounded by earlier social workers such as Octavia Hill, Jane Addams & Bertha Reynolds, who
had at various points over the previous 200 years sought to make social work & charity more focused
on structural forces.

Focus of critical social work

Major themes that critical social work seeks to address are:
Poverty, unemployment and social exclusion
Racism and other forms of discrimination
Inadequacies in housing, health care and education
Crime and social unrest (although it should be noted that the critical approach would be more
focused on the structural causes than the behaviour itself)
Abuse and exploitation

Sub-theories of critical social work

As critical social work grew out of radical social work, it split into various different theories. They are
listed below, with a selection of writers who have influenced the theory.
S.Rengasamy. Introduction to Professional Social Work
Structural social work theory ( Ann Davis, Maurice Moreau, Robert Mullaly)
Anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive social work theory (Neil Thompson, Dalrymple & Burke)
Post- colonial social work theory (Linda Briskman)
New structural social work theory (Robert Mullaly)
Critical social work theory (Jan Fook, Karen Healy)

Dialectic explanations of free will

While critical social work has a strong commitment to structural change, it does not discount the role
of free will. Critical analysis in social work looks at competing forces such as the capitalist economic
system, the welfare state or human free will as all affecting individual choices. Therefore, according
to critical theory the aim of social work is to emancipate people from oppression and allow individual
liberty to prevail.

“A dialectical approach to social work avoids the simplistic linear cause-effect notion of historical
materialism and the naïve romanticism associated with the notion of totally free human will." (Mullaly
and Keating, 1991).

"Dialectical analysis helps to illuminate the complex interplay between people and the world around
them and to indicate the role of social work within society” (Mullaly, 2007:241)

Practice models
Some of the practice theories that critical social work utilises include:
Working collectively
Building cooperation and consciousness
Helping people to understand the social consequences of the market system
Helping people deal collectively with social problems rather than individualising them
Making alliances with working class organisations and recognise social workers as ‘workers’