Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social workers-Professional ethics, Social work education, Abused women-Services for, Autonomy (Psychology), Family violence, Social work ethics, Ethical dilemmas, Domestic violence, Domestic abuse, Intimate partner violence, Battered women, Mandatory reporting, Cultural compentent practice, Duty to protect, Self-determination, Ethical decision-making, Family violence-Law and legislation


Though social workers come in contact with victims of domestic violence in a number of ways, studies indicate that social workers report feeling underprepared by their graduate education to address issues of domestic violence (DV). In an effort to reveal what is preventing social workers from taking a more demonstrative position on this issue, two focus groups comprised of 5 to 8 Master's level social workers were conducted to explore what resources aid in resolving ethical dilemmas, as well as the following ethical issues: upholding a client's right to self-determination, a clinician's duty to warn/duty to protect, mandatory reporting of children witnessing DV, legislation mandating reporting of physical injuries resulting from DV to the police, and honoring cultural values when DV is present. Findings regarding what ethical issues social workers encounter in their work with victims of DV, social workers' understanding of the complexities of DV and the laws and ethics that impact this work, how social workers resolve ethical issues regarding DV, and where they obtain the information to help them resolve these issues are reported. In addition, recommendations for future research and strategies for upholding the core social work value of self-determination when working with women experiencing domestic violence are discussed.




iii, 84 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 69-75)