Social Work Practice Principles |

Note on Social Work Practice Principles

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A principle is the guidelines which help to track out a particular subject. They are made on the basis of a philosophy of the particular discipline. Every profession has its own set of principles. It is a belief or standard. Principles are certain assertions or statement which guides our professional action. Social case work principles are derived from the social work core values, philosophy, and principles.

Hence, Every social workers help t internalize and reflect these practice principle in his or her attitude while working with client in planned changed process. Some of the principles of social work are:

  1. Principle of Acceptance

The principle talks about accepting the client with all his strength and weakness. Client should accept as a human being but while accepting client, the anti social behavior of client should not accepted. Social worker convey acceptance by expressing genuine concern, listening, acknowledging other point of view and creating environment of mutual respect. This principle implies linking the client irrespective of his negative qualities and conduct. It is an expression of good will towards the client and criticisms if these are done out of good will it is conveying deep concern and active understanding to the client who is liked by the worker, in spite of his behavior for which he/she hated or punished by the society. Sometimes social worker may come with prejudice attitude and may judge the client as per social work perception. This time the social worker may feel discomfort while working with the client so, social worker should not allow prejudice attitude to feel humiliation to client. In some cases the professional and personal values of social worker may not collide and become difficult for the worker to work with the client. Social worker should refer such cases to other fellow professionals.

Hence, this principle states that client is entitled to notice and recognize as a person or human being.

  1. Principle of Individualization

Every individual are unique and has distinct quality and potentialities. It is said that human beings are similar in some ways and different in many ways. Hence, individualization refers to the unique qualities of a person which should not be generalized. No two persons are alike in all qualities and traits there problems may be the same but the case of the problem and its root cause may be different. The perception towards problem and ego strength differs in every individual therefore each individual client should be treated as a separate entity and complete information is required to establish close relations in order to solve client problem from the room. Every individual has their own worth and dignity and hence, as per the principle of individualization being the social worker we need to appreciate and recognize individual differences of the client.

  1. Principle of Purposeful Expression of Feelings

Feeling is related to emotion and human emotion is very hard to keep under control. We are emotional being so, it is difficult for us to hide our anger and hatred, happiness, sorrow, embarrassing and pity full situation. Due to various reason the person may not be able to express his/her feelings purposefully in such situation social worker need to be able to help the client to express his/her feeling purposefully by listening attentively, asking relevant question and demonstrating tolerance and non- judgmental attitude. Their different ways to help client to express his/her feeling purposefully by:

  • Understanding clients problems
  • Collecting and getting all the facts and information
  • Understanding emotional aspect
  • Providing psychological support
  • Finding solution and readiness of client on problem solving process
  1. Principle of Non-judgmental Attitude

The non-judgmental attitude is a quality of the case work relationship. The case worker should not blame the client for his/her problem nor should he/she put any responsibilities for his /her miseries or situations. The case worker only evaluates the attitudes standard or action of the client. It is important for social worker to consciously develop a non-judgmental attitude while dealing with the client. Attitude of social worker to client has lasting impact in the helping process. It is the key to open the door for acceptance and a foundation for developing effective working relationship. The principle of non-judgmental attitude signifies social worker non blaming behavior. They do not judge other as good or bad or worthy or unworthy however, social worker makes professional judgment or decision every day about alternative approaches and solution. Non-judgmental attitude towards client worth and dignity.

  1. Principle of Objectivity

We human being has body, mind and intellect as three instruments of experiences through which life constantly pulsets. These three instruments have their own distinct characteristics in each person hence, each person has unique personality. Principle of objectivity is a closely related to non-judgmental. Objectivity is the principle of examining situations of client without bias. In social worker different kinds of client came to meet so, in this situation social worker must avoid negative judgment and prejudice and accept his/her as a client who is problem. To be objective in their observation and understanding, social worker must avoid injecting personal feelings.

  1. Principle of Controlled Emotional Involvement

We are emotional being and there is always chance that social worker gets moved emotionally by their client’s situation. Thus, social worker may respond to a client with attachment or detachment. Both situation are undesirable for professional social work practice. Sometimes it is very difficult to control the emotional dimension of a person so, in case of social worker, many often times may get moved emotionally with client situation. From intake to problem solving process social worker may get attach with the client and may be difficult for client during attachment in this case the situation most be understand professionally by both case worker and client. Hence, social worker needs to control his/her emotional involvement with client. During professional practice social worker must understand three component of controlled emotion which are response in client situation:

  • Sensitivity to expressed or unexpressed feelings
  • Understanding based on knowledge of human behavior and
  • Response guided by knowledge and purpose

Social worker should not respond in a way that conveys coldness or lack of interest while at the same time cannot over identify with the client. More attachment with client also creates problems due to which the client may fully depend upon social worker. Whereas over identifying with client means that social worker is unable to differentiate his own responsibility from client’s responsibility in resolving problems

(Dubois and Miley, 2002 p. 130)

  1. Principle of Self-determination

Confidentiality is the preservation of the secret information concerning the client, which is disclosed in the professional relationship between the client and social worker. The clients self determination is the practical of the right on the need of the clients to freedom in making his/her own choices and decisions but this right is limited by the clients capacity for positive and constructive decision making. This refers to the right of the client to take his/her own decision about directing his/her life should not be imposed on his/her. The decision, choices or plans are made only by the clients however they can be guided and enabled to make his own decision. Social worker has responsibility to maximize the client’s opportunities for self-termination. This means social worker has to collect all information about client. On the basis of collected knowledge information and knowledge about the client, social worker has to empower client in making own choices and decisions. Therefore, social worker’s role in client self determination involves providing information, identifying possible consequences and exploring alternatives with the participation of client. Self determination has it’s own limits the decision made by the client has to be within certain constrain imposed by social obligation. Furthermore, the self determined act should be within the socially acceptable standard of behavior. Though it is the right of the client to determine in which direction he want to take his life

  1. Principle of Cooperation

It is the profession based on mutual help, support and cooperation. Cooperation means collaboration, assistance, support and team work. Client system, target system, action system are the various system that social work need to work so, for this mutual cooperation is very necessary for both client and social worker. To provide just to the client social worker must trust all the social work system and work as per it. The commitment to the client before solving problems must be fulfilled while working with client’s problem. On working with clients problem the social worker must work on the basis of fact and information so, while dealing with client’s problem social worker meet with different professional and colleagues therefore social worker has to respect them from the level of competence or individuals attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion immigration status, mental or physical disability. To sum up, principle of cooperation is necessary for maintaining confidentiality, conflict management, dealing with client’s and referral for services.

  1. Principle of Confidentiality

Confidentiality is also one of the important principles of social work practice. It refers to protection of information provided by or received by the client for this social worker is also accepted to maintain privacy regarding the information receive from the client. During the process of helping the client discovers very personal and private aspect of their life. The information of the client must be treated as confidential by the social worker this encourages the client to build the trust and to share his experience and feeling freely.

According to NASW code of ethics, principle of confidentiality should be applied by social worker while disclosing private information. In this regard social worker has to inform the client about the discloser of confidential information and the potential consequences before the discloser is made. Social worker must respect the confidential information gathered from colleagues and other professional during problem solving process. Social worker should ensure that such colleagues understand social workers obligation to respect confidentiality and any exceptions related to it. The confidentiality are of two types absolute and relative. Absolute refers to information which should not be share to any one whereas relative confidentiality means those which could be shared with others but for professional purpose only to gather help and coordinate the client with the service. Social worker should understand that in some situation confidentiality has its limitation or where it does not apply.Example, consultation or referral in a hospital client record has to be shared with other professionals like doctor, nurse, psychiatrist etc.

  1. Principle of Social justice

The social worker always works for social justice and challenge social injustice. A social worker most understand that equality and justice ensure that all members of society share in benefits that the society offers and have opportunities to reciprocate with their own contribution. As a social worker is it his/her duty to provide just and fair treatment to the needy people. A just social order accords every societal member the basic rights, opportunities and benefits.

According to NASW code of ethics, Social worker works on the behalf of vulnerable and oppressed individuals and a group of the people to bring social change and social justice. Poverty, unemployment, discrimination and other forms of social injustice are the issues that social worker has been working.

A social worker organizes various activities to empower the people. They also organize different activities like advocacy, lobbying to promote sensitivity to and knowledge about oppression and cultural diversity and ethnic diversity. Equality of opportunities and equal participation in all sector and meaningful participation in decision-making for all people.

  1. Principle of Non-violence

The principle of non-voilence is derived from the Gandhian philosophy of social work. Social work scholars and practitioners have given limited attention to principle of Mahatma Gandhi. He used the word ‘Ahimsa’ which means not to hurt any living being/thing. Ahimsa and Satya (truth) are interwoven with each other. According to Gandhi ‘Ahimsa’ is a road to truth. Evil thoughts, lies, hatred, wishing ill to anybody, violent act, using arms, revenge, unethical control and power exercise etc. are involved in violence. Evil and violent activities leads to destruction so, a social worker has to work for love, peace and social justice which are possible by implementing principle of non-voilence and truth. He has suggested ‘Satyagraha’ as anon-voilence and peaceful technique and method for social work and social change, which involves persuasion, fasting, non-cooperation, boycott, civil disobedience, peaceful strike and protest.

  1. Principle of Human Dignity

The concept of human dignity and worth to refers to a particular view of human kind. Social worker believes that all person have inherent worth and dignity during the helping process social worker should keep into consideration about each worth and human dignity and respect them. The social worker should put the client at the center of the treatment. The social worker must give value to the client as a human being whatever his problem is.

Social worker must accept client regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, cultural or national origin, sexual orientation, age, religion, physical and mental handicap, All person are worthwhile inherently, and all persons are entitled to dignity in their unique personhood (Haynes and Holmes) 1994, p. 177)

The social worker has a responsibility to the client and the boarder society’s interests in a socially responsible manner consistent with the values, ethical principle, and ethical standards of the profession. The social worker should help the client and provide them just and fear treatment.


Shrestha, S. K. (2013). the concept of social work. Kathmandu: Taleju, Prakashan.


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