Social work

experience and methods

Questioning about loyalty during social work field practice: objective to supervision


Loyalty questions are referred to as the main ethical problems of social workers in the International documents of social work ethics. Various sources also define loyalty very inconsistently, sometimes even contradictorily. Therefore, this research helps to reveal the questions related to loyalty that is raised in the students' educational practice. The research of ethical questions formulated during the educational practice of social work students. The analysis of questions formulated in 163 case descriptions is based on the inductive content analysis method. The aim of this research is to reveal the questions related to loyalty that are raised during the students' educational practice and evaluate the need of professional supervision. This article analyses the following tasks: Which loyalty areas are addressed by the ethical questions raised during the students' practice? How do the students formulate questions regarding this ethics theme?
Four categories related to loyalty may be distinguished: 1) loyalty to the traditions and culture of the organization, 2) loyalty to the people having authority, 3) loyalty to the rules and orders of the organization, 4) loyalty to laws. The results of the research revealed that during the educational practice the student is in the following areas of loyalty pressure: culture of the organization, client needs, rules of the organization, practice supervisor, state laws, professional values, tutor and the university subdivision and the relationship with himself/herself. In addition to these eight structures, there are some competing relationships in one way or another and in each case the student has to decide with whom he/she collaborates, whose values and models of behaviour he/she chooses because the above mentioned structures compete among themselves. The research revealed that the student has to maneuver among horizontal and vertical loyalty, as well as the loyalty to his/her dignity. Students more often formulate ethics dilemmas and problems rather than open questions for discussion. This research raised a lot of questions and challenges for the student training process and the organization of educational practice and encourages to develop this topic further. Independent social work supervision could be very effective measure supporting students moral development as well as creating new organizational culture, supporting post conventional thinking.


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