Codes of ethics and standards are documents that express the ethical and professional ideals of a profession. They outline the aspirational practices that are expected in a profession but often do not provide explicit guidance on how attainment of these ideals should be accomplished. For instance, in this course, you focus on the National Organization for Human Services’ (NOHS) Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals. Standard 14 states, “Human service professionals are aware of social and political issues that differentially affect clients from diverse backgrounds” (NOHS, 2015). The actions or behaviors necessary on the part of the professional to meet this standard may differ from client to client depending on the cultural background of both the professional and the client, the experience of the professional in working with similar clients, and the resources available to the professional for professional development.

The best use of professional codes of ethics, then, is as a tool to inform ethical decision making by all professionals in a given field. For human and social service professionals, the NOHS standards may be used as guideposts for acting in the most professionally and ethically responsible manners. Dilemmas sometimes arise between standards and laws, or two conflicting ethical perspectives, in which case the standards may be used to minimize ethical harm to those groups to which professionals are beholden.

For this Discussion, you reflect on your professional identity as a human and social services professional and consider how the NOHS standards impact your professional identity, decisions, and actions.

To Prepare:

  • Review and consider the NOHS website and the Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals.
  • The NOHS ethical standards are organized into sections based on those groups to whom human and service professionals have professional responsibility and to which the standards should be applied. As you reflect on the standards, consider how they would inform your decision making with each group (e.g., clients, the public, self, employers) within your particular role in the human and social services field. If you are not yet working within the field, consider how they would apply to a future role you would like to hold.

By Day 4

Post an explanation of how you identify as a human and social services professional (e.g., social worker, gerontology aid, administrator, probation officer, residential counselor). In your explanation, include how your understanding of the NOHS Ethical Standards for Human Service Professionals will impact your professional identity, decisions, and actions.