Personal and professional values of private and agency social workers
Scheel, Judy L.
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Social work values are the foundation of social work practice. Social workers ought to be guided by the profession's values in making practice decisions. This study compares the personal and professional values of private practice social workers with agency social workers providing clinical services. The questions guiding this study were: Do some social workers adopt personal values over professional values in their practice and if so why? Are there differences in value selection between agency and private practice social workers? To what extent are the personal values of social workers congruent with values espoused by their profession?;The concept of individualism underscored the theoretical matrix of this study. Individualism was examined from three perspectives: economic, sociological and psychological. The psychological view of narcissism was of particular interest in this study. Social workers narcissistic interests were hypothesized as accounting for an inability to adhere to professional values in value conflict situations.;The study questionnaire consisted of four sections. Section one provided detailed demographic data and personal and professional characteristics of the respondents. In section two, social workers were administered a series of clinical vignettes which contained situations likely to evoke personal and/or professional value conflicts. The vignettes dealt with three specific arenas: Life/Death and AIDS, Religion/Moral, and Economic/Personal Interest. The vignettes addressed such issues as AIDS, homosexuality, abortion, managed care, insurance reimbursement. Section three measured value preferences by the use of Gordon's "Survey of Interpersonal Values" (SIV). Scales from the "Schedule for Non-adaptive and Adaptive Personality" (SNAP) by Clark which measured specific traits related to narcissism such as manipulativeness, disinhibition, impulsivity, entitlement, and exhibitionism comprised section four.;The findings revealed that private practice social workers were no more likely to make practice decisions based on personal values than were agency social workers, except in the arena of 'Economic/Personal Interest'. Social workers overall relied heavily on their personal values when making practice decisions, however, narcissistic interest was not the motivating factor. Academic and life experiences influenced the adherence to professional values. A usable sample of 155 questionnaires was obtained.