Codes of ethics define responsibilities in professional practices. Different professions have specific codes of ethics founded on the duties of the employees, engagements with clients, and professional standards.
In the mental health profession, codes of ethics mainly address professional responsibilities, handling of clients, storage of clients’ information, and the relationships that should exist between the clients and the mental health workers.
The following paper will analyze two codes of ethics for social workers and the Association for Addiction Professionals, to identify their significance in promoting effectiveness in care delivery process.
One of the codes of ethics among social workers is the Social Workers’ ethical responsibilities to clients. The moral responsibility addresses how social workers should be committed to serving the clients, self-determination, informed consent, competence, privacy and confidentiality, interpersonal relationships, and data access processes, among others.
Similarly, the Association for Addiction Professionals has one clause dealing with the professional responsibility of individuals working under the addiction channels. Both of these codes address the mannerisms and the expected conduct among the workers in the social sector and the addiction association, especially when conducting their professional mandates.
One of the similarities between the codes of ethics established for social workers is a commitment towards effective and efficient service delivery process. Addiction and social professionals have similar obligations of ensuring that the clients receive the best services, attention, and advocacy. In both disciplines, honesty and congruency are inevitable to promote quality services and to maintain the expected credibility.
Also, the code of ethics in the two disciplines advocate for peace and avoidance of any conflict of interest. Battles occur in any social setting due to indifferences, pressure, and incongruence.
However, it is upon the social worker and addiction professional to avoid conflicts with fellow workers, clients, and employers (National Association of Social Workers, 2012). Rationality, asceticism, and critical evaluation of ideas promote understanding and peaceful environment (The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), 2012).
Privacy and confidentiality are other important issues addressed in the codes of ethics for social workers and addiction professionals. In both contexts, employees and mental health professionals are mandated with the responsibility of upholding the privacy, confidentiality, and trust. Private information or any other details about clients’ health remain under the authority of the mental health workers.
Both social workers and addiction professionals, store, retrieve, and distribute clients’ information in a way that does not jeopardize the health or life of the clients.
Record keeping is therefore vital and sensitive when dealing with mental patients since there are possibilities of interfering with the psychological wellness if the information lands in other hands (The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC), 2012). Both codes of ethics are clear on the safekeeping process of information, access, and distribution of clients’ information.
In both disciplines, clients’ information remains private and must never be shared or discussed with other individuals, unless consented by the client, or if sharing is deemed as necessary for the wellness of the clients. Clients can access information to assess their conditions, but if the access process is perceived to have potential harm to the clients, then they should be denied access.
The two disciplines require that the workers demonstrate a high level of competence, accountability, and trust. Since most of the clients suffer from psychological and other associated mental illnesses, approach to their privacy and confidentially is a vital process to safeguard their wellness and ensure that the care administered is valid and reliable (National Association of Social Workers, 2012).
The two ethical codes are very clear about exploitation and oppression in the workplace. According to both systems, social workers and addiction professionals must not take advantage of their clients, junior workers or volunteers. Respect among the workforce is inevitable to guarantee efficiency and competence among the workforce.
The similarities notwithstanding, several differences are apparent between the two disciplines. One of the significant differences is on inter-professional relationships. While the social workers’ code of ethics bans the sharing of clients among different professionals, the addiction profession offers some conditions and exceptions under which such a process can take place.
Addiction professionals have the responsibility of first communicating with a previous professional dealing with a client before proceeding with the treatments. However, social workers are discouraged from engaging in such practices because it is feared that such a move would jeopardize the health and lives of the clients.
The other difference is on establishing sexual relationships between the counselor and the clients. According to the social workers’ codes of ethics, sexual relations must never exist between social workers and clients. The reason given is based on potential harm to the clients, due to their psychological weakness, emotional instability, and possibilities of coercion from the social workers (National Association of Social Workers, 2012).
However, such a clause does not exist in the professional responsibility clause for the addiction professionals. The addiction professionals do not have any restrictions on engaging in sexual relationships with clients. However, their wellness is questioned in terms of their ability to offer services to addicts when they have similar problems.
While the two disciplines have the responsibility of advancing their knowledge about the conditions being treated, social workers are not mandated to produce evidence-based on their educational and professional backgrounds as the addicted professional do (Calley, 2009).
However, both parties are expected to act in a professional manner when dealing with their clients. Every mental health worker must work within his or her professional capacity to avoid professional errors and to ensure that the clients receive the best medical care possible.
The addiction professionals are not required to adhere to informed consent clause, at which any information about the treatment is interpreted to the best of the clients’ understanding. However, social workers must ensure that in any service delivery process, the clients understand about the treatment option and in case the clients are illiterate, then consent must be sought from a professional third party.
This approach makes it possible for clients to participate in the service delivery process. In both parties, the workforce is expected to advance its cultural and social competence in order to understand the dynamics in the clients’ conditions. Race, ethnicity, and gender are some of the underlying factors differentiating response to treatments, therapies, and counseling (Corey, Williams, & Moline, 1995).
Although the addiction professionals lack specific and clear guidelines about interruption and termination of services like the social workers, they define the responsibilities in caregiving and points to the limits of professional workers when administering professional services to recovering addicts.
Addiction discipline addresses issues within its workforce, like recovery, at which employees operate in ways deemed safe and effective for not only the clients but also for the individual workers. Contrary to this approach, the social workforce does not address issues that directly affect their psychological wellbeing.
The differences between the two disciplines, notwithstanding, codes of ethics promote efficiency, professionalism, and adherence to ethical and moral principles. Based on the orientation of the systems of ethics, professional caregivers improve responsibilities, accountability, and identify the sensitivities of their professions.
One of the importance of having codes of ethics is to protect clients, nurture progressive professional relationships, and promote professionalism. In the professional responsibility clause emphasized in both disciplines, workers are expected to demonstrate a high level of restraint, professionalism, and accountability.
Without the codes of ethics, workers have the potential of infringing the rights of the clients, leading to adverse effects upon their health and wellbeing (Fine, 2009).
Codes of ethics protect clients from having their lives jeopardized through professional negligence, incompetence, and lack of seriousness. Competence as a code of ethics promotes professionalism, care, and redefinition of one’s capability to deliver the expected healthcare service.
Privacy is vital in any profession, be it in healthcare, business, or education. Clients must be assured of their privacy in order to develop trust in the services administered. In mental health, privacy is of paramount importance, mainly due to the sensitivity of the clients on issues related to their medical wellness.
Revealing medical information not only affects the clients psychologically but also creates a long-term effect of denial and exposes the clients to potential harm. Privacy and confidentiality are, therefore, important when administering mental healthcare to clients.
Client-to-professional sexual relationships and exposure of clients to uncomfortable contacts may create wrong perceptions, emotions, and feelings, thereby affecting the clients and worsening the initial mental and psychological condition.
Codes of ethics, therefore, promote efficiency by establishing standards and limits for the workers. The limits and rules protect clients and professionals from exploitation and help in the evaluation of professional practices.
Calley, N. G. (2009). Promoting a contextual perspective in the application of the ACA code of ethics. The ethics in action map. Journal of Counseling and Development, 87(4), 476-482.
Corey, G., Williams, G. T., & Moline, M. E. (1995). Ethical and legal issues in group counseling. Ethics and Behavior, 5(2), 161-184.
Fine, M. (2009). Believers and skeptics: Where social worker situate themselves regarding the code of ethics. Ethics and Behavior, 19(1), 60-78.
National Association of Social Workers. (2012). Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers. Web.
The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). (2012). NAADAC Code of Ethics. Retrieved from https://www.naadac.org/code-of-ethics