Values refer to beliefs and attitudes that provide guidance
in everyday living while ethics refer to what constitutes to be the right
conduct (Corey, 2003). Values and ethics are usually used interchangeably but
they are not identical.
As social workers, counsellors or psychologists, our
professional relationships with our clients exist for their benefit. According to National Association of Social
Workers (NASW) (2017), the following are the broad ethical principles based on
social work core values of services: dignity and worth of person, integrity,
importance of human relationship, competence, and justice.
These values being humanistic in nature are common to not just counsellors,
psychologists and social workers but are values that can be threaded through
all helping professions. Dignity and worth of person is concerned with treating
individuals with respect and compassion, regardless of the individual’s
differences, cultural norms and ethnic diversity (NASW, 2017). Integrity
compels one to be honest and righteous, it is a core ethical principle for all
helping professions who are entrusted with much responsibility in the
rehabilitation of their clients (Corey, 2003). All three professions require
the cooperation of their clients, and human relationship is a vehicle that can
be leveraged on to facilitate positive change.
The three professions also must be knowledgeable within their areas of
competence including the different legislations affecting their different
groups of clients – for example children, women, disabled, vulnerable adults,
etc. (NASW, 2017).
Extrinsic resource-based vs intrinsic value-based
Social work is about “person in environment” which means it
links an individual with sets of system that provide the individual with
resources, services and opportunities (Higham, 2006). Thus, in social work, the
values and ethics are basically characterized as derivatives in the interaction
between the collaborative parties involved in the life of the individual. For
example, in helping an individual to develop and adjust to changes, the focus
will be on the extrinsic relationship between the individual with the environment.
Whereas, in the profession of counselling and psychology. Focus is on the
governing of interpersonal values and rights of the individual which is an