What are the core values of social work?

  • willingness to help
  • social justice
  • respect for humanity
  • kindness
  • integrity
  • maintaining professional boundaries

Social workers provide an invaluable service by supporting the well-being of individuals and families, their work creates a safer, more inclusive society for us all.

Their primary concern is ensuring that all individuals basic needs are met, with a particular focus on vulnerable members of society such as the young, the elderly, the unwell, and those living in poverty or otherwise reduced circumstances.

It’s a challenging profession, emotionally and intellectually taxing, but social workers have the opportunity every day to enact positive social change by advocating for the human rights and dignity of those in need, and it’s impossible to overstate the importance social workers have in the UK.

Core values of social work. 

If you’re thinking of starting a career as a social worker, it’s important to first understand the core values and ethics of social work. These are essential beliefs and modes of behaviour every qualified social worker needs to embody to succeed in their career.

1.    Willingness to help.

Social work is a service-based profession, your duties lie in helping others, so a desire to help is crucial. There’s more to social work than house visits, filling out forms and checking boxes, you need to be extremely motivated to make a difference in individuals lives.

2.    Social justice. 

You will often come across family situations where a societal injustice has occurred. Your duty will be to recognise this and provide the assistance you are able to in order to alleviate the resulting suffering. A keen sense of what is right and wrong, and a professional awareness of the avenues you can take to help are important.

3.    Respect for humanity.

You should respect humanity equally and believe that all members of society deserve an equal chance of living, without discrimination. If you encounter biases within yourself or others, you should work towards addressing these prejudices and champion the right for fair treatment.

4.    Kindness.

A social worker without kindness and compassion will be ineffective in their work. There will be long days, and sometimes clients may be making things harder for you than you think they should be. Kindness will be the motivating factor pushing you through the difficult days, knowing that your hard work will help people.

5.    Integrity.

Acting with integrity builds trust in your relationships with clients and your co-workers. This value doesn’t end when you clock out for the day, your personal affairs should also be managed responsibly, and you should be self-motivated to continually improving yourself and your skills at work.

6.    Maintaining professional boundaries. 

Sometimes it’s possible for our values to conflict with the social workers ethical code of conduct, therefore maintaining good professional boundaries is essential.

Crossing professional boundaries can lead to a worsening of a care situation in unforeseen ways and can even be detrimental to your own well-being.

If you find yourself becoming unprofessionally over-involved in a case, or you’re experiencing issues with a colleague, don’t be afraid to talk to your supervisor who will be able to guide you towards the ethically correct way to proceed.

Always practice within the confined professional boundaries and remember to put your own health, safety and career first.