The Final Questions & Answers
SWGS 6305: Social Work Skills Lab
By Rickard Jean-Noel
In todays society, there are many that live with injustices every day. Some deal with injustice because of the country that they live in. Some deal with the injustice because of the color of their skin. Some deal with injustice because of their gender, while some deal with it because of their religion. There are many battling injustices because of their current economical situation, and poverty has got them oppressed. Many are currently facing injustices because of their sexual preferences. All the previous issues mentioned accounts for just some of the work that Social Workers fight every day to correct for the benefit of the people. Social Workers work with everyone from elected officials and politicians, to the people with boots on the ground, to work together to correct all the injustices that are occurring around the world. In this record we will discuss many different aspects of the social work field. We will look at the questions presented and provided a detail analysis of the different aspects. At the conclusion of this assignment there will be a completed record of the issues that many Social Workers encounter during their profession and we will also be able the display the ability to use the knowledge obtained in this course.
The first part of this record that we will tackle in The Common Assignment is an assignment which “will require students to demonstrate their ability to practice from a nonjudgmental stance” according to the syllabus for the Social Work Skills Lab. In the scenario from the syllabus, we are given the role of a supervisor at a nonsectarian social service agency. The company provides social and counseling services to families and children of all backgrounds and religion. You are currently supervising a young social worker who has only been at the job for a few weeks. Upon having a conversation with the young social worker, she is informed that she will be assisting a lesbian couple who are new to the community. The couple is currently looking for assistance to get married, and to find out if it is legal in this currently state or where can they be legally married. They also want to have a child, either through artificial insemination, or adoption. After discussing the details with the young social worker, it is determined that due to her religious beliefs, she does not believe in gay marriage, and believes that it is “simply wrong”. She also believes that “homosexuality I a sin”.
The ethical issue in this situation is obviously that the young social worker is discriminating against the gay couple because she does not support gay marriage and believes that homosexuality is wrong. According to “The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics Page 7 Section 4.02 Discrimination states the following “Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability”. According to Lexico Dictionary discrimination is described as: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. Ex. Discrimination against homosexuals” (https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/discrimination). Based on the section found in The NASW Code of Ethics and the definition provided to us from the Lexico Dictionary we can make a solid determination that the ethical issue in this situation is discrimination, and that the young social worker is discriminating against the couple because they are homosexuals.
Even though it is not specified in the syllabus what the religion of the young social worker is, we can assume she is either a Christian, Jewish, or a Muslim because of their beliefs against homosexuality. According to the Holy Bible the book of Leviticus 20:13 it states: “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them”(New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America). With such a powerful statement coming from such a powerful book, we can see why the young social worker is so strong in her beliefs.
Given the complexity of the situation we would have to advise the young social worker to consider the NASW Code of Ethics as well as to take in consideration of her profession. When the young social worker decided to pick this profession, she was made aware of what the requirements would be and informed about the required level of professionalism and ethics. Regardless of their sexual preference is, they are still coming to you for assistance and you still have a job to do. If you are unable to handle that part of this field, then perhaps this field is not a good fit for you. If the problem continues then perhaps it would wise to advise her to consider another line of work. Last, we would advise her of the risk of a lawsuit if she is assigned to the couple and it proven to discriminate against them.
In conclusion I would suggest that the young social worker do what is best for her. It would be express to her to also separate her personal beliefs from her professional obligations. If she is unable to work this case and we can assign it to someone else, then there isn’t an issue. However, if we do not have a replacement for her and we have no other choice but to place her with that couple then we will do so. If the young social worker is unable to do the job, then unfortunately she would no longer be a good fit for the company. The young social worker can also be referred to refresher courses on sensitivity and on the NASW code of Ethics. She would also be referred to training, if she discriminates against clients that are homosexual, she will face disciplinary measures up to termination.
- “The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics Page 7 Section 4.02 Discrimination
- New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America
Part 2. Common Assignment Video Critique
During this portion of the assignment we will provide critique on the Common Assignment video. The video is meant to be on “the demonstration of skills (or lack of skills) of practicing from a non-judgemental approach” according to the course syllabus. In the video, the social worker is speaking to a lady that is currently experiencing a lot of stress in her home and in her life. She has met with the social worker to speak about these issues as a mean to receive some form of relief. As we exam the video, we will then answer the questions in regards the actions that took place in the video.
The first critique that we are requested to provide is on the beginning of the session and how the social worker began the session. The social worker starts the session by greeting the client and asking her why she was there in a nice way. She then lets the client know that she is in a safe space and explains to her the client confidentiality clause. By doing this, she provides the client with a peace of mind, which allows the clients to be more willing to share information. The social worker gets the client to open up by asking her about her family, specifically the children and her husband. Client expresses that the relationship between herself and her children has changed. Eventually they start to speak more in details about her husband and it seems like the husband was who the social worker wanted to focus on but did not speak on at first. They eventually reach the core in which the client informed the social worker that her husband has been psychical with her. Client goes on to state that she does not want her son to become like her father. The Social Worker is kind of aggressive when telling the client to leave her husband. The client then request that the social worker not put any attentional pressure on her.
The technic that was used by the social worker was very similar to that mentioned in “Interview Techniques for Social Workers” By Ellie Williams. In the article it is stated that “Instead of launching immediately into questioning the client, social workers often start by putting the client at ease and establishing rapport. They often achieve this through small talk, asking the client about his family or job, or discussing neutral topics such as the weather or current events. This helps the client make a connection with the social worker instead of viewing her as an authority figure. With children, social workers often start by playing games with them or inviting them to color or draw pictures. Once the social worker senses the client is comfortable, she can shift the conversation toward the reason for the interview” (https://work.chron.com/interview-techniques-social-workers-16674.html)
Before the client goes into details of her life, she asks the social worker why she is taking notes and where does she keeps the notes. The Social Worker states that the notes are only for her to remember the details of their conversations and expresses that not even her supervisor sees the notes. The Social Worker goes on to state that they have a doctor-patient confidentiality and that the client does not have to worry about it. The Social Worker then tell the client that she is only mandated to report the details of the conversation if the client makes threats to harm herself or others.
According to the article written by Kathryn Krase entitled “Social Workers as Mandated Reporters: Conflicted Over Confidentiality? Part IV” states that “Confidentiality means that information shared within a relationship will not be shared outside that relationship. The expectation is that what a client tells a social worker, the social worker will not reveal to others. The purpose of client confidentiality is to encourage clients to share information that may be embarrassing, or even self-incriminating. Through the sharing of such information, the social worker can help the client address an issue, concern, or problem the client may be experiencing. The social worker’s obligation to keep client information confidential is supported through state and federal law, but most often is discussed in reference to the NASW Code of Ethics” (https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/social-workers-as-mandated-reporters%3A/).
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics goes into detail in regard to confidentiality and expresses the different sections of confidentiality. The NASW Code of Ethics 1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality states the following: “(a)Social workers should respect clients’ right to privacy. Social workers should not solicit private information from clients unless it is essential to providing services or conducting social work evaluation or research. Once private information is shared, standards of confidentiality apply. (b)Social workers may disclose confidential information when appropriate with valid consent from a client or a person legally authorized to consent on behalf of a client. (c)Social workers should protect the confidentiality of all information obtained in the course of professional service, except for compelling professional reasons. The general expectation that social workers will keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or other identifiable person or when laws or regulations require disclosure without a client’s consent. In all instances, social workers should disclose the least amount of confidential information necessary to achieve the desired purpose; only information that is directly relevant to the purpose for which the disclosure is made should be revealed. (d)Social workers should inform clients, to the extent possible, about the disclosure of confidential information and the potential consequences, when feasible before the disclosure is made. This applies whether social workers disclose confidential information based on a legal requirement or client consent. (e)Social workers should discuss with clients and other interested parties the nature of confidentiality and limitations of clients’ right to confidentiality. Social workers should review with client’s circumstances where confidential information may be requested and where disclosure of confidential information may be legally required. This discussion should occur as soon as possible in the social worker-client relationship and as needed throughout the course of the relationship. (f)When social workers provide counseling services to families, couples, or groups, social workers should seek agreement among the parties involved concerning everyone’s right to confidentiality and obligation to preserve the confidentiality of information shared by others. Social workers should inform participants in family, couples, or group counseling that social workers cannot guarantee that all participants will honor such agreements. (g)Social workers should inform clients involved in family, couples, marital, or group counseling of the social worker’s, employer’s, and agency’s policy concerning the social worker’s disclosure of confidential information among the parties involved in the counseling. (h)Social worker should not disclose confidential information to third-party payers unless clients have authorized such disclosure. (i)Social workers should not discuss confidential information in any setting unless privacy can be ensured. Social workers should not discuss confidential information in public or semipublic areas such as hallways, waiting rooms, elevators, and restaurants. (j)Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients during legal proceedings to the extent permitted by law. When a court of law or other legally authorized body orders social workers to disclose confidential or privileged information without a client’s consent and such disclosure could cause harm to the client, social workers should request that the court withdraw the order or limit the order as narrowly as possible or maintain the records under seal, unavailable for public inspection. (k)Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients when responding to requests from members of the media. (l)Social workers should protect the confidentiality of clients’ written and electronic records and other sensitive information. Social workers should take reasonable steps to ensure that clients’ records are stored in a secure location and that clients’ records are not available to others who are not authorized to have access” (https://www.uaf.edu/socwork/student-information/checklist/(D)-NASW-Code-of-Ethics.pdf). Provided in the NASW Code of Ethics is many details on confidentiality that the social worker did not explain to the client.
There are several parts in the video where we could identify and discuss where the social worker is not practicing from a non-judgmental approach, however we will only focus on 5 to satisfy the question. We can make the argument that she was being judgmental when she was hinting at for the client to leave her husband. She seems a bit aggressive at first and the client states that she is putting pressure on her. Another instance that she seems judgmental is when she asks the client what type of work she does, and if she has a social life. The client seemed a bit uncomfortable explaining the type of work she does. The social worker also seems judgmental when asking the client why she has yet to let her friends know about what is going on between her and her husband. The social worker I also judgmental towards the husband, stating that because he is hurt that is the reasoning for hurting his wife. This is in a sense biases because the social worker has yet to speak to the husband and hear his side of the story. The social worker was also judgmental in the sense that she asked the client why she can’t save money to escape. Client explained to her the details of her life and how it does not give her that option. Finally, towards the end of the video, the social workers speak to the client and expresses the feeling that the client is either unable to do anything to change her current condition or is scared to do so. The social workers make it seems so easy to just leave the husband, but the client expresses to her that it would not be the easiest thing to do and that this if her life.
According to “Guide 2 Social Work” “Principle of non-judgmental attitude presumes that the social worker should begin the professional relationship without any bias. He should not form opinion about the client, good or bad, worthy or unworthy. He has to treat the client as somebody who has come to him for help and he should be willing to help the client without being influenced by the opinions of other about the client or his situation. This enables the worker and the client feel free to develop understanding of each other” (https://guide2socialwork.com/social-work-principles/)
In conclusion, the social worker did not do a total horrible job. She was professional for the most part. She could have been a bit more sensitive to the situation, but perhaps that is something that she can work on in the future. To resolve this issue, the social worker can be referred to sensitivity training. According to Ali Tankiewicz, HR Associate, “Sensitivity Training is designed to make individuals aware of their behavior toward others, who are different in race, color, gender, religion, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other categories protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Sensitivity training also raises awareness of other characteristics that employees may encounter in their daily interactions, such as individuals with different experiences, backgrounds, perspectives and communication styles” (https://www.traliant.com/sensitivity-training/). The social worker should work on not being so judgmental and she can be more detailed in the information that she provides to the clients. There is always space for improvement and time shall permit the social worker to do so.
- “Interview Techniques for Social Workers” By Ellie Williams. (https://work.chron.com/interview-techniques-social-workers-16674.html)
- “Social Workers as Mandated Reporters: Conflicted Over Confidentiality? Part IV” By: Kathryn Krase (https://www.socialworker.com/feature-articles/practice/social-workers-as-mandated-reporters%3A/).
- The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics 1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality (https://www.uaf.edu/socwork/student-information/checklist/(D)-NASW-Code-of-Ethics.pdf)
- “Guide 2 Social Work” (https://guide2socialwork.com/social-work-principles/)
- Ali Tankiewicz, HR Associate (https://www.traliant.com/sensitivity-training/).
Part 3 Corrective Role Play
During this exercise, it was required that students work in pairs for a role-play in which we demonstrated corrective actions or improvements that we would make as a social worker conducting the session from the video. For this assignment I was paired with Ms. Shanaya Metz. The role-play was completed and the following Zoom video on August 12, 2019:
Part 4 Reflection Paper
During this portion of the paper, it is required that we review the role-play video and critique our effectiveness in applying a non-judgmental approach. During the video, I was play the role of the social worker, while Ms. Shanaya Metz played the role of the client. It is always an interesting experience whenever there was role-play with a fellow classmate. It not only helped you to get a better understanding of the roles in social work, but it also helped in getting to know your classmate better as well. Ms. Shanaya Metz was a great partner to complete this exercise with and she did an excellent job.
The video starts off by me asking the client what is going on. Client stated that there are problems going on in the home and that her and husband has been fighting a lot recently. I responded to Ms. Metz with a “wow”, which was judgmental, but I could have been more professional with my response. I think ask Ms. Metz if she feels that things can be resolved, which she answers that she wishes that they do get better. Ms. Metz then informs me that things have gotten a bit violent with some pushing and shoving. When asked what Ms. Metz felt was causing her husband to react the way that he is, Ms. Metz stated that her husband had a ruff childhood and that he is currently going through a difficult time. Ms. Metz then stated that she does not bring up any of the things that are bothering her with her husband because she fears his reaction. Ms. Metz was then asked if she would be willing to bring her husband to a session to which she replied that now would not be the best time. She went on to say that there is a possibility for him to come to a session in the future. Ms. Metz did not have anything to say after that and stated that the same time next week would work fine for her.
According to Dictionary.com, nonjudgmental is defined as “not judged or judging on the basis of one’s personal standards or opinions” (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/non-judgmental). Many may argue that it is in our human nature to judge. According to “The First How Skill of Mindfulness: Adopting a Non-Judgemental Stance” by Suzanne Robison “It is our nature as human beings, to judge. We judge ourselves, the world, others…. we judge EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. This is normal. This is natural. And, this is great, and horrible at the same time. It’s a dialectic. What’s good about judging is that it is a shortcut to making sense of our world. If I judge that coffee is good and tea is bad, then I can make a very simple decision. Drink coffee = be happy” (http://suzannerobison.com/the-first-how-skill-of-mindfulness-adopting-a-non-judgemental-stance/).
According to “Exercises For Non-judgmental Thinking” By Christy Matta, MA “Judgments tend to activate extreme emotions. If you want to live a less judgmental life, you must first become aware of your own automatic thoughts and judgments. Learning to think non-judgmentally takes practice. You have to be aware of when judgmental thinking occurs and practice bringing your attention to just the facts” (https://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2010/06/exercises-for-non-judgmental-thinking/). This helps serves as a reminder that it is much easier to judge then to not judge and it takes practice to change that about you, which does take time.
Ms. Metz is playing the role of the client who is a domestic violence victim to a certain degree. She seems to feel sorry for herself and is in a way protecting her husband. This is common behavior of domestic violence victims. There are also children involved in the home and at times they are witness to what is occurring in the home. According to National Statistics “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes a range of behaviors (e.g. slapping, shoving, pushing) and in some cases might not be considered “domestic violence and 1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner” They went on to state that “1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence” (https://ncadv.org/statistics?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIocn9rPGS5AIVj5OzCh1D5gYBEAAYASAAEgIpSvD_BwE). The stats go on to show us that this is not only an issue that Ms. Metz is facing, but it is an issue that many are facing all over the US and the world.
Given the resource obtained and the video evidence presented, it can be determined that Ms. Metz was listened to without any judgement. I listened to everything that she had to say very carefully and respectively. Ms. Metz was not told anything inappropriate or asked to do anything inappropriate. According to “How to Listen Without Judging” by Shellie Braeuner “The key to listening without judgment is to listen empathetically. Empathetic listening means putting yourself in the shoes of the speaker”( https://living.thebump.com/listen-judging-6237.html). If I were to put myself in the shoes of Ms. Metz, I would realize that she is currently going through a difficult time, one that can change her entire world. I believe that the best thing that I did during the video was simply listening and allowing her to let out all of her feelings and emotions. To conclude, Ms. Metz session went well and there was very little to no judgement.
- “The First How Skill of Mindfulness: Adopting a Non-Judgemental Stance” by Suzanne Robison (http://suzannerobison.com/the-first-how-skill-of-mindfulness-adopting-a-non-judgemental-stance/).
- “Exercises For Non-judgmental Thinking” By Christy Matta, MA ((https://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2010/06/exercises-for-non-judgmental-thinking/).
- “How to Listen Without Judging” by Shellie Braeuner ( https://living.thebump.com/listen-judging-6237.html).