Code of Ethics
of the National Association of Social Workers
Approved by the 1996 NASW Delegate Assembly and revised by the 1999 NASW Delegate Assembly
The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all
people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment
of people who are
vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. A
historic and defining feature of social work is the profession's focus on individual well-being in a social context and the well-being
of society. Fundamental to social work is attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and address problems in
Social workers promote social justice and social change with and
on behalf of clients. "Clients" is used inclusively to refer to
individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Social workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity and
strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in the form of direct
practice, community organizing, supervision, consultation
administration, advocacy, social and political action, policy
development and implementation, education, and research and evaluation. Social workers seek to enhance the capacity of
people to address their own needs. Social workers also seek to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities, and
other social institutions to individuals' needs and social problems.
The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers
throughout the profession's history, are the foundation of social work's unique purpose and perspective:
dignity and worth of the person
importance of human relationships
This constellation of
core values reflects what is unique to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles that flow
from them, must be balanced within the context and complexity of the human experience.
Purpose of the NASW Code of Ethics
Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles,
and ethical standards. The
NASW Code of Ethics
sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers'
is relevant to all social workers and social work students, regardless of their professional functions, the
settings in which they work, or the populations they serve.
NASW Code of Ethics
serves six purposes:
identifies core values on which social work's mission is based.
summarizes broad ethical principles that reflect the profession's core values and establishes a set of specific
ethical standards that should be used to guide social work practice.