Eye on Ethics: Social Work Ethics as a Moving Target - The Evolution of Ethical Standards

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

School of Social Work


When you began your social work career, did you ever imagine that a client might send you an electronic request to be her Facebook friend? Could you have imagined earning your social work degree online? Did ethical guidelines exist concerning social workers’ relationships with former clients? Indeed, for most of social work’s history, the profession’s ethical standards did not address these issues. Clearly, social work’s ethical standards are not carved in stone. Rather, they have evolved over time as societal norms and challenges have changed. In this respect, the NASW Code of Ethics and other prominent ethical standards throughout the world are living documents.