Social Workers in Legal Settings

30 Nov Social Workers in Legal Settings

Another dilemma for agencies and field service coordinators/directors lies in the following questions: What exactly can students do in a law firm? Are they paralegals? Are they secretaries? Aren`t most social workers therapists? These are some of the questions that were asked when a student applied in the spring of 2011 to complete her bachelor`s internship at a law firm. Most faculty members were skeptical about the skills the student could acquire in this context, but they were open to new internship ideas. Social workers cannot disclose information about a client to third parties without the client`s written consent. Legal problems in social work arise when a client poses a danger to themselves or others. In most states, social workers are required to notify law enforcement officers in such cases. This is called a duty to warn, which is a difficult situation for even the most experienced social workers. Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as a consultant for employee support programs and as an addictions expert. Miller holds a Master`s degree in Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnostics and child and youth psychotherapy. She also holds a Bachelor of Music degree. In our program, a student who recently completed her internship at the Tennessee State Legislature was paired with Tennessee Rep. Joe Pitts, who not only holds a bachelor`s degree in social work, but also holds it from the same program she graduated. His field teacher was the legislator himself.

In other offices, supervision is often done by someone outside the social work field, which requires a higher level of supervision from the field contact person or field coordinator/director and more intensive training as part of the field program. We will begin with an overview of the judicial system. In the first few days, we try to get them to be observed in court. This gives them an idea of who the players are: judges, lawyers, bailiffs, probation officers, youth workers, social workers, absenteeists, etc. Like most mental health and social service providers, social workers face a number of legal and ethical issues in social work practice throughout their careers. They must make difficult decisions about treatment issues, maintain professional boundaries and develop an awareness of value conflicts. The National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics provides ethical and legal advice to social workers in the areas of clients, other professionals, practice attitudes, profession and society. In practice, ethical considerations can sometimes seem difficult and open to interpretation. It is a wide range of views that covers a range of practical issues. Some ethical and legal issues in practice may include the dual relationship between supervisors and supervised entities, maintaining change in this area by attending regular continuing education courses, and maintaining ethical accounting practices, such as preventing double billing or simply invoicing for services rendered. Other dilemmas social workers may face include billing under false names or circumstances, or interviewing children without parental consent.

When I was the first social work student from Austin Peay to intern at TN Legislature, I learned a lot of valuable things. First and foremost, I have found that our voice, the voice of social workers, is rarely heard. There were very few lobbyists I met or knew who worked in the social services sector. It was very cool to meet some of them about projects such as hearing aids/implants for children, foster families, and I think the most important thing for me was education. While working for Representative Pitts, who sits on the Education Committee, I learned that there are about 28 juvenile detention centres, and of those 28, only four have accredited school programs. Mr. Pitts asked me to research what was needed to set up a pilot program for children in one of the institutions. Social workers also have a commitment to society as a whole. They must work for social justice and the common good and must not engage in activities that promote inequality or discrimination.

Instead, social workers should take political and social measures that ultimately lead to the removal of barriers and promote societal improvement and social inclusion. A social worker`s commitment is first and foremost to her clients. Despite her best intentions, a social worker may face some legal and ethical challenges in social work when interacting with clients and their families. The most common issues that can arise include confidentiality, professional boundaries, respect for the client`s right to self-determination, and awareness of conflicts of interest. By calling yourself a social worker, you also have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the profession. Legal and ethical issues that may arise in this area include practicing in your area of responsibility, avoiding dishonesty and cheating, not allowing behavior in your personal life to interfere with your professional role, and dealing with personal issues such as mental health disorders or substance abuse. SWHelper emphasizes the importance of being aware of personal issues and past trauma in order to maintain objectivity, boundaries, and professional distance as a social worker. Forensic social work plays an important role in the justice system, and the options seem endless for students. However, the question remains how social work programs, students and external organizations can be encouraged to see the benefit of letting students into their hires. It is clear from this statement that students play multiple roles when working in the judicial or governmental field and not just as individual case managers as in many other contexts. Students see the big picture, learn about other areas of work, and network with people outside of social work while playing a supportive and educational role as part of a social work placement. Forensic social work has several definitions.

In general, forensic social work is the application of social work to issues and questions of law and legal systems. This specialty goes well beyond psychiatric clinics and clinics for offenders, which are reviewed and treated for jurisdictional and accountability issues. A broader definition includes the practice of social work, which is somehow related to legal issues and litigation, both criminal and civil. Custody issues, including separation, divorce, neglect, forfeiture of parental rights, the impact of child and spousal abuse, juvenile and adult justice services, corrections, and prescribed treatment, all fall under this definition, according to the National Organization for Forensic Social Work (About Us, 2011). Forensic social work is a growing field, but not all students (or field directors) are aware of the opportunities for students in legal contexts such as law firms, legislative offices, public advocates, and legal aid organizations. Reporting unethical behavior from colleagues can be a difficult situation. It is up to the social worker to discuss her concerns with her colleague. If the situation is not resolved, she must take action, such as reporting the colleague`s behavior to the state licensing authority or NASW. With the current political and legal environment, social workers, law enforcement agencies and the judicial system are in a difficult situation.

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