RE: SOCW6333; Discussion: Ethical Responsibility – Response to 2 Students (wk 5)

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Respond by Day to at least one of your colleagues’ postings. Be sure to respond to a colleague who chose at least one different setting than you did. Respond in one or more of the following ways:

  • Ask a probing question.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Response to Lorraine Tillman

YOur brief description of the scenario you selected.

I selected Rhett the EMT from the Army Reserves. Rhett is helping with disaster relief following the Haiti earthquake. Rhett is working diligently and dealing with ongoing traumatic scenes. He is digging out dead and alive mutilated bodies. Rhett feels as though he needs to save everybody without taking into account his own mental or physical health. Rhett begins to suffer from exhaustion and vicarious trauma.

Then explain at least one possible impairment exhibited by the practitioner due to vicarious trauma and the impact it may have on the helping or treatment process.

One possible impairment exhibited by Rhett due to vicarious trauma is his being “trapped in a state of mental and emotional fatigue” (Laureate Education 2014). Rhett also feels he has to save everyone (Laureate Education, 2014). The impact this may have on the treatment process is his inability to focus properly on treatment as he feels he needs to be the person to save everyone while simultaneously neglecting himself. Rhett is putting himself at great risk and he is becoming difficult to work with. His action may also be placing others at risk, especially those who depend on him to be stable during a rescue mission.

Then, as a helping professional, explain how you might address the impairment. Be specific and provide examples referencing your professional code of ethics.

I may address the impairment by begin honest with Rhett. I would bring to his attention that it is very difficult to help others if you are not well yourself. It would also remind Rhett of the dangers posed to himself and others as well, by operating rescue missions while fatigued. As with social workers it is also unethical for clinicians to operate under fatigued, burn out or while experiencing VT. By doing so places the clinician at risk due to lack of focus and places the client at risk for further harm and should be reported immediately. According to the NASW (2017), “Social workers who have direct knowledge of a social work colleague’s impairment that is due to personal problems, psychosocial distress, substance abuse, or mental health difficulties and that interferes with practice effectiveness should consult with that colleague when feasible and assist the colleague in taking remedial action (NASW, 2017).

Laureate Education (2014). SOCW 6333. EMT Scenario. Retrieved from: Walden University.

National Association of Social Workers (2017). Read the code of ethics. Approved by the 1996 NASW Delegate assembly and revised by the 2017 NASW delegate assembly. Retrieved from: https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of…

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Response to Nicole K.

School Counselor Scenario

Linda is a school counselor that had to relocate after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. She relocated to Atlanta and started working at a school where some of her old students have started attending. Linda is struggling with some of the same feelings of devastation as her students. The school has witnessed and/or heard rumors about Linda purchasing lunches for students and inviting families over to her apartment. Linda has been displaying compulsive behaviors and has other staff members concerned for her mental capacity.

Vicarious Trauma and Linda

According to Bride (2004), around 40%-81% of the general population of the U.S. has witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. Knowing this already increases a practitioner’s chance of becoming vicariously traumatized or re-traumatized. Linda has experienced a traumatic life changing event and her job is to help survivors process their trauma of the same life changing event. A possible impairment exhibited by Linda in the case study is her inability to see her ethical requirements. Linda has experienced such trauma that she feels she relates to her students, she wants to help them in ways that perhaps she wishes she was being helped.

Goren (2013) discusses the implications when a workers’ feelings “go underground” and when the actions of a worker become impulsive or he/she makes poor clinical choices (p. 739). Within the case study, colleagues have reported a change in Linda’s behaviors and thinking. Goren (2013) reported that a worker who is struggling may not reach out for supervision or peer support due to the feelings of shame, guilt or fear of not looking professional. Linda appears to be isolating herself from her supports at school and fixating on “fixing” the students who are battling the same feelings she is. Her feelings and behaviors are clearly affecting her professional career because she making poor choices and doing a delicate dance with ethical boundaries.

Addressing the Impairment

The first and most appropriate way to address this impairment is to speak with Linda directly. Depending on the relationship, it may be the best to inform her supervisor of your concerns and let him/her have this direct discussion. Linda is not in a state of mind where she has great insight on herself and her actions. Linda knew that when she became a social worker she had to adhere to the code of ethics, but with this recent trauma she is unable to think clearly. Speaking directly to her and explaining the concerns of the institution is firm, but an appropriate first step. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) (2017), social workers are to avoid conflicts of interest. It is reported that Linda has invited some students and their families to come to her personal living quarters. This is not appropriate because it creates a dual relationship, which is against the ethical stipulations of being a social worker. Reiterating the code of ethics to Linda and informing her of how her behaviors go against the code of ethics might be the “wake up call” that she needs in order to receive professional help. In addition, it sounds like Linda is not utilizing her supervisor which is an ethical responsibility of social workers in practice settings (NASW, 2017). According to NASW (2017), “social workers who provide supervision or consultation are responsible for setting clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries” (para 3.01b). Again, having a one-on-one discussion with Linda while pointing out her discrepancies in practice may be the best approach.

Reference

Bride, B. E. (2004). The impact of providing psychosocial services to traumatized populations.

Stress, Trauma and Crisis, 7(1), 29–46.

Goren, E. (2013). Ethics, Boundaries, and Supervision. Commentary on Trauma Triangles and

Parallel Processes: Geometry and the Supervisor/Trainee/Patient Triad. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 23(6), 737–743. https://doi-org.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/10.1080/104…

National Association of Social Workers (2017). Read the code of ethics. Approved by the 1996

NASW Delegate assembly and revised by the 2017 NASW delegate assembly. Retrieved from: https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of…

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