Ethical issues in supervision

Essential content

Authored by: Frederic G. Reamer

The Routledge International Handbook of Social Work Supervision

Print publication date:  June  2021
Online publication date:  June  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367250867
eBook ISBN: 9780429285943
Adobe ISBN:


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Supervision has been an essential element in social work since the profession's formal inauguration in the late nineteenth century. Social work's literature offers extensive commentary on supervision roles, responsibilities, relationships, models, and approaches. Historically, there has been much less focus on complex ethical issues associated with social work supervision. This chapter explores a wide range of challenging ethical issues in supervision related to professional boundaries, dual relationships, conflicts of interest, informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, and professional impairment, among others. The author focuses especially on novel and emerging ethical issues in supervision arising out of supervisors' and social workers' increasing use of technology to provide supervision, deliver services to clients, communicate with clients, store sensitive information, and search online for information. The author will highlight the ways in which ethical challenges and decision making can expose supervisors, practitioners, and clients to risk. The author will discuss relevant ethics concepts, standards, and risk-management protocols designed to protect clients, supervisors, practitioners, and employers.

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