Social Work Values: Six Core Values

 Content Outline 

  1. Introduction
  2. Services
  3. Social Justice
  4. Dignity and Worth of the Person 
  5.  Importance of Human Relationships
  6. Integrity;
  7. Competence
  8. Summary


The NASW Code of Ethics (1999) identifies six core values for the profession: 
  1. Service; 
  2. Social justice; 
  3. Dignity and Worth of The Person; 
  4. Importance of Human Relationships; 
  5. Integrity;
  6. Competence.
    This is important for social worker to understand the scope of each core value in order to integrate it into professional value.


The value of service suggests that social workers give high priority to helping others. By valuing service, social workers subjugate their personal desires in order to focus on the needs, interests, and wishes of the people they serve. When a social worker says that she chose this profession because helping others is meaningful work, she is expressing service as a value ( Barsky, 2010, pp. 40). Thus, the primary job of social worker is to help people in need and address social problems.

Social Justice

Social justice refers to a world in which everyone is treated fairly. By valuing social justice, social workers’ social change efforts are focused on issues of social injustices such as discrimination, poverty, unemployment, oppression, lack of opportunity, and social exclusion. Thus, the social worker strive to ensure access to relevant information, resources, services, equality of opportunity and meaningful participation in decision making and can promote equality, respect, fairness, and inclusion throughout their practice. 

 Dignity and Worth of the Person 

Social workers value the dignity and worth of all individuals, meaning that everyone deserves respect. Social workers treat each person in a caring and respecting individual differences and cultural diversity and promoting client’s socially responsible self- determination. Honoring client self-determination shows the utmost respect for the client’s strengths, dignity, and autonomy. Social workers seek to enhance client’s capacity and opportunity to change and to address their own needs

Importance of Human Relationships

Social workers must understand the importance of human relationship as an important vehicle for change. Social workers help clients by developing affirming relationships with them and engage clients as partners in the helping processes. Developing a positive therapeutic relationship with clients is a fundamental component of the helping process (Rogers, 1957 cited in Barsky, 2010). Clients who feel valued and respected will be more open, confident, and willing to take the risks that are involved in any change process


Integrity refers to the importance of honesty, reliability, and responsibility. Social workers are aware of the profession’s mission, values, ethical principles and act honestly and responsibly and being accountable for their action. The client should not be exploiting and should get confidence to work with social workers in a positive environment. Thus integrity is vital to building trust.


Competence means having the knowledge, skills, and self-awareness required to perform social work tasks in an effective manner. The specific skills and knowledge required to depend on the specific tasks to be undertaken. Social workers should aspire to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.


  1. This module talks about the importance of understanding the values- personal as well as professional values for social workers.
  2.  Such knowledge enables social workers to understand the basic practice principles upon which social work is based and to act appropriately while working with marginalized and vulnerable population.


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