Boundary Issues in Social Work: Its implication for Social Workers
Florida Atlantic University
Boundary issues in social Work: It implication for social workers
Reamer’s article entitled. “Boundary issues in social work: Managing dual relationships.” provides an overview of boundary issues in social work, and also stresses the fact that social work literature clearly demonstrates that ethical issues related to boundaries are among the most problematic and challenging (2003,p.121). Consequently, for Social Workers, establishing a solid professional, ethical and consistent relationship with their clients must be their ultimate goal. Unfortunately, many find themselves in situations where their ethical and professional careers come into question, because of boundary issues. As defined by Reamer in his article, boundary issues occur when social workers face possible conflicts of interest in the form of what has become know as dual or multiple relationships (121). Social workers should not enter into dual relationship with their clients, because of the negative implications it can generate. This paper will discuss ethical issues that violate boundaries. Be it may social, emotion or professional relationship, for both social worker and clients when a social worker form a dual relationship with his/her clients, and create boundary issues. This relationship as stated by Reamer occurs when professionals engage with clients or social groups in more than one relationship, assumes a second role with a client, becoming social worker and friend, employer, teacher, and family member. The NASW Code of Ethics identifies core values (service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence) on which social workers should base their professional relationships with their clients, and should be followed to ensure professionalism. As stated by Reamer, “Social Workers-be they clinical, community organizers, policy makers, supervisors, researchers, administrators, or educators, oftentimes come across circumstances that pose actual or potential boundary issues” (2003,p.121). However, as a social worker, one has to be cognizant of the fact that in many cases he/she is highly esteemed by their clients and often privileged to confidential and personal information, which is sometimes not privilege to family members or even close friends. Therefore extra precaution should be taken to avoid using this information to exploit their clients. Social relationship
The case study entitle “Ethics Case Study: Juan S,” gives a prime example of social relationship that violates boundaries. This case study gives details of a family who immigrated to America illegally from El Salvador. Unable to get assistance from the government because of their illegal status, Juan’s mother and brother worked menial jobs to try and make ends meet and there were times when Juan mother was not paid for her services. After noticing Juan’s behavior in class his teacher recommended him to a social worker. After visiting with Juan and his family, the social worker was privileged to other information about the family, including the fact that his mother was having a hard time with her present employer and needed better employment in order to make ends meet. Ultimately, the social worker acted upon information given by Juan’s family and decided that it would work in her benefit, as well as Juan and his family, if she hired Juan’s mother to take care of her own children. In addition she also states “the arrangement would also be beneficial because he would be spending time in an English-speaking environment, thus improving his ability to communicate in school, and her children would be learning Spanish in the home.” The NASW Code of Ethic 1.06 states, “social workers should not take...