ethical conflicts and supervision

Getting Started

From time to time, you may encounter ethical issues that go beyond your experience or expertise. Social work supervisors oversee the performance of their supervisees. They can provide mentoring, guidance, and support for resolving ethical uncertainties. Supervisors are also often familiar with current community or organizational issues, past successes and failures, and various stakeholders. A supervisor can provide context to help inform ethical decision making in social work practice.

In this activity, you will discuss potential ethical issues that may arise in addressing the need in your community or organization. You will consider whether there are situations that could stand in the way of maintaining your commitment to service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competent practice. Finally, you will consider how you will use supervision to resolve potential ethical conflicts.

Upon successful completion of this discussion, you will be able to:

  • Use inter-professional collaboration to achieve beneficial macro practice outcomes. (PO 8)


  • Textbook: Generalist Practice with Organizations and Communities

Background Information

Generalist Practice with Organizations and Communities presents a systematic ethical decision-making model. Ethical decision making involves:

  • recognizing the problem
  • examining variables of the dilemma
  • getting feedback from others, including your supervisor
  • defining the values impacting the dilemma
  • evaluating the dilemma
  • assessing the alternatives
  • weighing the pros and cons of alternatives
  • making a decision

Supervision does not always provide clear answers. However, the process of systematically evaluating and ethical dilemma and talking it through with your social work supervisor and other colleagues may lead you to an acceptable resolution.


  1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
  2. In your textbook, Generalist Practice with Organizations and Communities, review chapters 11 & 12.
  3. Navigate to the threaded discussion and respond to the following questions. Your initial post should be 200 to 300 words.
    1. What ethical issues do you foresee in addressing your community or organizational need?
    2. How can you use supervision as a tool for managing those ethical conflicts?
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