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Who do I tell? Support and consultation in cases of ethical conflict

McAuliffe, D and Sudbery, J 2005, 'Who do I tell? Support and consultation in cases of ethical conflict' , Journal of Social Work, 5 (1) , pp. 21-43.

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Abstract

Summary: Social workers cannot avoid ethical dilemmas. This qualitative research investigated the question ‘who do I tell?’, exploring who the people are that social workers approach for advice when a course of action is ethically uncertain. Thirty Australian social workers discussed how they managed a serious ethical dilemma, whether they sought support, and reasons for not seeking support. Findings: All respondents had access to supervision, and regarded supervision as critical. However, less than half discussed the incident in organizational supervision, and supervision was more likely to be used if external to the organization. In many cases, ethical dilemmas were discussed with colleagues, and to a lesser extent with friends or family. Respondents referred to ethical, practical, organizational, and relationship reasons for not using potential sources of support. Typical issues were: availability; the perceived ethical priorities of the supervisor; the benefits and costs of seeking or not seeking support; behaviour of colleagues, managers or supervisors as the problem at issue; the ethics of discussing work with family and friends. Applications: The study provides empirical data about support for social workers facing an ethical dilemma. Organizational supervision, ostensibly functioning to ensure standards and ethical practice, appeared the least satisfactory in doing so in critical situations. If relationships are not prioritized, no amount of monitoring of service outputs will create effective practice.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Ethical dilemmas, supervision support
Themes: Subjects / Themes > H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Subjects / Themes > B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Subjects outside of the University Themes
Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care
Colleges and Schools > College of Health & Social Care > School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Sciences > Centre for Social Justice Research
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Social Work
Publisher: Sage
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 14680173
Depositing User: H Kenna
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2009 15:18
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2013 16:52
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/1118

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