I am writing about the role that the prospective social worker plays in dealing and advocating for 20-25 year olds that identify as Transgender, homosexual, bi-sexual or intersex, will be analysed critically and deconstructed. Furthermore the key social work values that I possess will be identified and further underpinned in my professional practice. Whilst the key social work values have been identified, there will be a further discussion on two ethical theories that can influence and improve my professional practice and quality of social work when dealing with these types of individuals. The two ethical theories that have been chosen, is utilitarianism and virtue ethics. Thereafter the challenges and ethical dilemmas that I will face when working with these individuals, will be critically analysed and to further decide what ethical decision making framework will be used in order to provide the best possible solution for the possible dilemmas.
The traditional role of the social worker; is to essentially empower the client (In accordance to the Australian standards of social work (REFERENCES REMOVED) and in accordance to the code of ethics set from the government) to then improve their situation via providing government services, private organisation services, counselling and advice so that the client can essentially get out of that situation and become independent (REFERENCES REMOVED, 2013), (REFERENCES REMOVED, 2010). Thus ideally the role of the social worker is to essentially work with the client and to then work out of that client’s life as they become increasingly independent. Therefore in the case of working with the sexual orientation of individuals, it would be important to understand and be non-judgemental when working with these clients. This would be due to society still having those prejudices toward diversity within sexual orientation; thus as a social worker, you must show acceptance and build rapport in order to properly assist these clients. Furthermore the key social work values that can assist and be used within my practice is; to have good ethical virtues (for example; compassion, acceptance and to be authentic), to follow the REFERENCES REMOVED code of practice and to follow the code of ethics; to know the proper services and avenues to assist, empower and improve these individuals lives; furthermore to understand and value what the clients are saying and to provide quality social work to these diverse and authentic individuals (REFERENCES REMOVED, 2010), (REFERENCES REMOVED, 2013). I believe that with these key social work values, that underpin my practice; will assist me in providing quality social work to homosexuals, bi-sexual, intersex and transgender individuals.
The two ethical theories that can and will influence my professional practice consist of Utilitarianism and virtue ethics. Utilitarianism is essentially a normative ethical theory that places a focus on the right and wrong solely on the consequences of choosing an action over other actions ( ). There are two types of applying this theory; such as the act-utilitarian theory and the rule- utilitarian theory.
The process of the act utilitarian theory focuses on the principle of utility as being applied directly to each possible action within a situation of choice. Although the main goal of rule-utilitarian theory is to choose the correct action that brings about the best results or the least amount of negative results (). Thereafter, the rule- utilitarianism theory, is the principle of utility being used to determine the validity and justness of the rules of conduct; an example of this would be that when you go for a home loan, the bank assesses all equity, credit rating and future wages of the individual or individuals who are buying that home and if they meet a certain criteria they will get the loan, if not, they don’t get the home loan; this is because in the past, banks have given loans to individuals who either haven’t had enough money to pay for repayments who have simply not payed the amount and gone bankrupt. Therefore right and wrong are then defined by the breaking of those rules and simple trust foundations that cause for laws and insecurities to develop (). This can further influence the duties invested in me as the social worker and what I can physically do, to help, improve and empower diverse clients and policies. Furthermore virtue ethics focuses on qualities of character; therefore with the focused attention on identifying “good” qualities of character, this can best influence how I as the practitioner can act and further better my qualities of character that were already pre -installed within me and with the emphasis on virtues, this also allows for a greater scope on how to deal with situations in both a positive and intuitive way that allows for growth for the clients and the practitioner () . Thus when enacting this ethical theory this provides opportunities for me to evolve and be the best social worker that I can possibly be; in order to further provide the best services to all of my clients.
An ethical dilemma is first deconstructed as the first condition, second condition and third condition. These conditions are there in order to display the options available for ethical decision making and what ethical framework is required to counter the ethical dilemma. Therefore the first condition occurs when an individual that is known as the ‘agent’, must make a decision about which course of action is best. Although a situation that is uncomfortable but doesn’t require a choice, isn’t an ethical dilemma; as an ethical dilemma is where an ethical choice has to be made in order to counteract the dilemma (). Furthermore the second condition is where two or more courses of action are present and so the agent has to make an ethical decision on which action is best. Thirdly the third condition is where no matter what course of action is taken, an ethical principle is compromised; therefore there is no perfect solution. Therefore the following ethical dilemmas and challenges that I may face when working with individuals of these sexual orientations is that I personally haven’t experienced the prejudice or harshness from peoples about my own sexual orientation, thus I don’t have that same understanding of how that would feel. Furthermore a challenge that I would encounter is that I haven’t learnt how to properly address or consult with these individuals about those issues and haven’t acquired the knowledge to assist these individuals properly. A possible ethical dilemma would be if any of the homosexual, transgender, intersex or bi-sexual clients tried to make sexual acquisitions toward me; as this has happened in the past and I was very uncomfortable and had to remove myself from the situation. Although, I treat every client with respect and dignity; if they overstepped the boundaries in the workplace, I would have to remove myself from the situation and talk to my supervisor in charge (McAuliffe, 2005) . In creating my ethical framework; it would consist of respect for all clients, analysing the good and bad actions that have been presented and to help the client choose the best avenue in accordance to the utilitarianism theory. Furthermore with the assistance of the virtue based ethics theory, both I as the practitioner and the clients can benefit as my quality of work is enhanced with the virtues that are present and also can enhance the clients well being as well.
In conclusion the traditional social working role was defined and how the social worker could assist these individuals, both on a professional level and on an interpersonal level; as the key social worK. values are analysed and also what is needed in order to understand and provide assistance to these individuals. As it was mentioned, the ethical theories that can influence my practice and underpin my own personal values, was the Utilitarianism theory and the virtue based ethical theory. These theories provided a sense of respect, duty and an analysis on what the best decision is for a client by weighing up the negatives and positives of those avenues and also how ethical virtues can assist both my quality of practice and the client’s experiences. Furthermore the ethical dilemmas and challenges that could occur from working with diverse sexually orientated individuals, was further analysed and was presented with an ethical decision making framework that was structured around utilitarianism and virtue based ethics.
This analytical essay will look at Young people who are aged between 15-20, who identify themselves as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex, and how I as a prospective social worker, see the purpose for social work being for these individuals, and what key social work values might underpin my practice. The essay will than look at the ethical theories that may inform practice in the context of this group and I will than refer to the challenges and ethical dilemmas thal worker when undertaking at I may be faced with as in individual and as a sociwork in this field. Finally, the essay will delve into what ethical decision making framework may assist the social worker in resolving these issues.
To begin this essay, I would firstly like to provide definitions for the terms (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex) Gay is a word that has 4 different definitions, but looking at an urban definition it is defined as a man being homosexual (attracted to) another man. Lesbian is a word used to describe a female homosexual: a female who experiences romantic love or sexual attraction to other females. Bisexual is an individual that is attracted to both genders. Transgender looks at are people who have a gender identity or gender expression that differs from their assigned sex. Transgender people are sometimes called transsexual if they desire medical assistance to transition from one gender to another. Lastly intersex can be defined as relating to or denoting a person or animal that has both male and female sex organs or other sexual characteristics. (2012).
The Australian Association of Social Work, has mentioned that the purpose of the Social
Work profession is to be committed to exploring and maintaining the well-being of all Human persons. Social workers follow a foundation of key social work values these are service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence. ( 2010). Social Workers aim to maximize the development of human potential and hope to fulfil the needs of all humans, through an equal commitment to working with and enabling people to achieve the best possible levels of personal and social well-being, the other vital purpose of social work is to work to achieve social justice through social development and social change. ( 2014). The purpose of social work in relation to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, would be to empower to be confident and respectful to themselves and be open happy in the person that they are, but also to create a link between the Macro And Micro social systems in providing the client with knowledge in relation to their Rights as a person that is gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and or intersex, and create goals for the client to build their self-confidence, and any other concerns that they may be faced with. (2009).
The key social work values that will underpin my practice will be equality and social justice, Firstly equality would be a social work value that I consider to be viral to good practice with this group, Respect for person as stated by the AASW code of ethics the social work profession respects the inherent dignity, worth and autonomy of every person, recognises and respects group identity, independence, reciprocity and collective needs of particular communities. Social justice is another key social work value, the profession advocates change to social systems and structures that preserve inequalities and injustice, social justice also promotes the protection of the natural environment as inherent to social wellbeing. Finally, professional integrity would be another key value that would underpin my practice, as a social worker practicing with this group I would need to maintain a high quality of professional conduct and behave with dignity and responsibility.
The profession of social work can encounter many different obstacles in day to day work. Each obstacle faced by a social work practitioner represents a different kind of challenge for them or the profession. However, the use of theories have been known to help social workers face and work through some of the challenges they are presented with, and how these theories can be utilized to achieve a positive outcome. The first ethical theory that will inform my practice may be Virtue Based Ethics, a virtue can be seen through a person displaying good character, open mindedness, not having prejudice views and respecting divergent ideas these are all qualities I wish to take to my practice. For a social worker to provide care to this group, it is believed by using the virtues based approach the practitioner will need to have behaviour showing high moral standards. I as a social worker, faced with a dilemma will be able to focus on the potentials development of my personality, with this focus in mind I will able looking at the better or more acceptable qualities of an individual’s character not only within myself but also in my clients. The virtues theory will influence how I as the worker will be able to demonstrate a better understanding of my personality, however some of my characteristics and personality traits have been taught or handed down to me and with the emphasis on virtues from my mother and father. () . I believe that this gives me a wider look on how to deconstruct and work with difficult situations in a very profession and respectful way whilst also allowing the client and social worker to build a relationship and work well together. The second theory I will be looking at is the Utilitarianism, this theory is a normative ethical theory that focuses on what is right and wrong but its main outcome is to look at the consequences of choosing one action over other actions. Due to these out comes the individual can look beyond the scope of one's own interests and takes into account the interests of others. Because this theory is a normative system it provided guidelines on how an individual is to act, and by which the existing practices of society, including its moral code, must be evaluated and improved. Mill believed that human actions are motivated entirely by pleasure and pain; therefore this theory believes that motivation can be a basis for the argument that, since happiness is the sole end of human action therefore the promotion of happiness is the test by which to judge all human conduct ( 111111.. ) . I believe this theory would assist me in practice as I will be able to link motivation and influences to action and behaviours, hoping to than grow from those mistakes made in the past to create goals and demonstrate more preferred actions in society.
Social workers are always faced with personal and professional challenges and ethical dilemmas, an ethical dilemma can refer to any moral problem, but speaking as a social worker a dilemma is a conflict. (2009). This next paragraph will discuss the challenges and ethical dilemmas I believe I will be faced with as I work with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex clients. Looking at a personal dilemma, I believe conflicts of interest will become a challenge for me I may find it difficult to remain aware of the potential for conflicts of interests which may affect my ability to exercise professional discretion and unbiased judgment, due to having close blood relatives bringing a member of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex group. Another challenge that could potentially negatively impact on how I work with my clients is my lack of knowledge in relation to what challenges these members of society are faced with and just knowledge about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex definitions and processes as a whole. I believe another ethical dilemma that I
may be faced with is my fear of offending my clients, I acknowledge that I may retain myself from asking questions that may get to the heart of the problem in conflict with my other dilemma of lack of knowledge around certain areas resulting in me disrespecting my client. ().
Ethical decision making is the systematic, reflective process by which such dilemmas can be resolved, in this situation I believe the first step to creating an ethical decision making framework would be to recognise the ethical issues, for me that would be the challenges and dilemmas outlined in this essay, once I have an understanding of my dilemmas I must then make an ethical decision that is working towards achieving the overall purpose of social work with this particular group by using a Human rights and values based frame work. ( ) Because I am applying the Virtue based Ethics Theory to my practice I want to be able to tackle the client’s issues by utilising their strengths and personality traits (virtues) but also to look at what influences them whether it be self or environmental, but I would also need to look at my own strengths and values to assist me in making ethical decisions. I would also apply the critical theory that is discussed by Harms, this theory which aims to gives social workers the perspective to utilize intervention method, the social worker must provide a structural and cultural level, and work towards disassembling the power imbalances that impact a client’s oppression. () . Other components that will assist me in creating an ethical decision will be to evaluate the options I have created to provide the best care, and choose an option that will produce the best outcome with the least harm to self and client, this is called the justice theory. ( ). By ensuring my solution upholds my values and to include knowledge and skills that can be developed through action and critical reflection on my own practice. As an aspiring social worker, I must critically interrogate my reflection from practice to examine how I might be able to construct the most affective, safe and equal care to my client. ( )
In conclusion, social work is a highly rewarding but challenging profession, this essay has looked at the purpose of social work in relation to a client group facing issues around being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex, looking the social work and personal values and how these would help inform practice as a social worker. The essay than looked at ethical dilemmas faced by myself as a potential social worker, providing care for this group and understanding how I may be able to overcome these challenges, finally I looked at ethical theories that would aid me in my practice and discussed an ethical decision making framework that had potential to assist myself in resolving personal and professional conflicts.
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