“I didn’t know if what I was doing was helping”: A Qualitative Look at the Experiences of Social Workers during the Ethical Decision-Making Process

Rebecca Pimienta, an MSW student at McGill University, performed a study, aimed at furthering the exploration of social workers/case managers experiences when faced with a client-related ethical dilemma and to gain an understanding of the supports they feel are needed, particularly in a community setting. Using a phenomenological approach, qualitative interviews were conducted with 4 social workers/case managers employed in a non-profit community organization in Canada. From the participants’ experiences, common themes emerged around overwhelming negative emotions and self-doubt, and uncovered the need for a supportive environment encompassing clinical supervision, agency structures, space to reflect and a feeling of safety. In light of these findings, important implications for supervisors/managers of social workers are discussed and recommendations are offered on how to support workers during the ethical decision-making process.

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