Eye on Ethics: 'Tis the Season: Managing Client Gifts

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


Whenever a social worker seriously considers accepting a gift or favor from a client, of whatever value or tangibility, the practitioner should consult with thoughtful colleagues and supervisors, when feasible, and critically examine the clinical and ethical implications, including current ethical standards and agency policy, the client’s and practitioner’s motives, and any alternatives. The social worker should carefully document in the case record the client’s offers, the process the practitioner used to make the decision (e.g., relevant consultation and review of the NASW Code of Ethics), the nature of the decision, and the rationale. This documentation can prove to be enormously helpful if the client or some other party raises questions about the appropriateness of the practitioner’s judgment.