When considering what part values play in social work practice, one of the first things to understand is what our values are, Thompson (2000) states thatOne of the significant features of values is that we tend to become so accustomed to our own values and beliefs that we do not recognise that they are there or how they are influencing us. An important step, then, is to be clear about what our values are. Thompson (2000,pp33)I will discuss both the personal and professional values that influence social work practice and discuss a particularly challenging experience I had with two clients who came for counselling. The names of the clients have been changed to ensure confidentiality.
An important thing to recognise regarding values in social work practice, according to the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) is that "values are integral to rather than separate from competent practice.
Therefore there can be no such thing as value free social work practice. Such is the influence of values in social work practice that CCETSW set out six core values, that the student must demonstrate competence in, before she/he can be awarded the Diploma in Social Work. The first of these values is: "to identify and question their own values and prejudices, and there implications for practice".
It is not easy to recognise your own values, as often they are unconscious ideas or views, which can only be challenged or changed, when brought to the conscious level. Personal, societal, political and cultural experiences influence the values that an individual develops, so it is important to become aware of these influences. The values people hold affect the way they act and treat other people, without an awareness of this people can unconsciously act in what may be perceived as an...