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Ethics of the Social Worker as Consultant (7th in Series)



The social work Code of Ethics ( is robust enough to cover the activities of the social worker as consultant. Its ethical principles of service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence remain true and applicable for social workers in every practice arena. Yet, a review of other codes can provide more tailored guidance for specific consulting activities. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) offer some additional considerations for the social worker as consultant. 

Multi-Code Review

AFP Code of Ethical Principles

The social worker as consultant will often be involved in fundraising and other capital development practice with organizations. The Association of Fundraising Professionals ( provides guidelines for such consultations. In addition to similar principles to service, integrity and competence, the AFP guidelines speak specifically to contracts, intellectual property, stewardship and compensation.

Members of AFP are counseled to remain “responsive and available to organizations…before, during, and after any sale of materials and/or services” (AFP Ethical Standard 8). Even after the contract is completed, the social worker as consultant should not abandon the relationship. Consider the expertise you provide and the services areas you practice within. If you must separate completely at the conclusion of a contract, provide support to the former client by making a solid referral.

Intellectual property and respect for copyright laws are especially important for technology implementation and social media including web sites and blog development. It is also applicable in print and advertising including stock photo sites. Two common mistakes are utilizing a corporate logo that is not authorized to be included in your marketing materials. Another is changing a logo, even the logo of your client, without express written permission of the parent corporation. In addition, understand laws related to the use of photos, even photos you take at client-sponsored public events. It is advisable to inform and reasonably seek model releases from photo subjects when photos will be used in promotional materials. Be sure to maintain model releases on file.

Stewardship includes putting money to the use intended by the donor. For the social worker as consultant, stewardship includes the integrity to educate the donor on the organization’s intended and real purposes for donations. This may include training the client organization on the virtue of transparency and the value of donor relationships long-term.

AFP guidelines on compensation are especially intriguing. Ethical Standard 21 states that “Members shall not accept compensation or enter into a contract that is based on a percentage of contributions; nor shall members accept finder’s fees or contingent fees.” For the social worker as consultant, this suggests that contracts are to be flat fee-based. Agree on a fair price for the consultation you provide. Do not fixate on what the organization may build from the sharing of your expertise. This disciplines you as consultant to balance your expertise, the need of the organization, and your profit motive in contract negotiations. Understand the value of what you offer, the competition in the market, and what it takes to do the job right. Do not sell yourself short.

WHO Agenda

The World Health Organization ( offers an important pattern for the social worker as consultant in its stated agenda. Consider the compatibility between the holistic health and well-being goals of social work and the health systems promotion goals of the WHO. The WHO describes their agenda as consisting of objectives, strategy, and operations—a good model for social work intervention and innovation.

The WHO health objectives are 1) Promoting development and 2) Fostering health security. The social worker as consultant would do well to focus on development, especially social development. Health security reminds the social worker as consultant that the social environment is an important consideration, always.

The WHO strategic needs are 3) Strengthening health systems, and 4) Harnessing research, information, and evidence. Social workers know that healthy systems produce greater good. The WHO connects strong health systems to poverty abatement. The social work as consultant should seek to innovate and enhance social support organizations. Social workers have embraced evidence-based practice (EBP), but not all social workers understand that EBP requires dissemination. The social worker as consultant understands: if you are not disseminating best practices, you are not effectively practicing.

The WHO operational approaches are 5) Enhancing partnerships and 6) Improving performance. Social capital development and the building of communities is all about collective activities—what the citizens can achieve when they work together. The social worker as consultant can be an effective broker, negotiator, and mediator to bring individual citizens and organizations together for specific purposes. The WHO suggests coalescing around best practices, ethical guidelines, and shared priorities.

Asset development is important to the long-term success of clients who hire the social worker as consultant. This includes the operational environment and the group emphasized by the WHO: staff. The social worker as consultant will do well to include expertise in performance evaluation, staff training, and leadership in his/her skill set.

Social Worker as Consultant Ethical Framework

Social work professional history guides us to do more than “9 to 5 and go home.” We cannot agree that our communities are fractured and only assist our clients in navigating that dysfunction.

Individual & Social Change Perspective

Build the capacity to change the status quo. Intervention should include the person and his/her perspective in the social and institutional environment. Innovation will seek to ensure access to and education on the mechanisms of production.

Social Capital & Collective Activities

Broker relationships among clients and between organizations in ways that foster reciprocity and win-win. Build relationships as investments and be clear about what you want in return. Focus on defining roles and responsibilities in the context of an action plan.

Process and Content Evaluation

Document activity with reports, receipts, and electronic communications. Organize and present the “big picture” in order to engage all parties in the vision. Parse that picture into manageable projects in order to provide all parties with a role 

Knowledge Sharing

Initially and periodically, every consultant offers services pro-bono. Share information freely as much as is possible. Disseminate best practices, instructive failures, and ruminations.

Transparency. Ensure that the processes of your clients are as transparent as possible while maintaining appropriate confidentiality. Educate your clients as well as their constituents. Create the sense that dialogue is valued and remain responsive and engaged.

Cost-Benefit Analysis. Conduct Cost-Benefit analysis at all levels of ecology, individual, individual as member of groups, groups that do not include individual. This means that the social worker as consultant must assess potential activities and predict the consequences of a course of action. Consequences include all costs including opportunity costs.

Sustainability. Predict the long-term sustainability of proposals in all resource areas, financial, information, people, and time. Educate clients on the pros and cons of a slow-building approach. Consider the supports needed for success to be maintained even after the consulting contract is terminated.

Impact. Predict the impact of the proposal on the community including the establishment of precedence, reactions of prior constituents, and entitlement of current individuals who potentially constitute a class. Consider that the pattern created by a certain course of action extends beyond the present time and budget period. Consider how actions of clients impact the culture of the agency and the community.

Dr. Michael Wright: Michael A. Wright, PhD, LAPSW is a Social Work Helper Contributor. He offers his expertise as an career coach, serial entrepreneur, and publisher through MAWMedia Group, LLC. Wright has maintained this macro practice consultancy since 1997. Wright lives in Reno, NV.

politicalsocialworker says:

I’m interested.

Relando Thompkins, MSW says:

Indeed! Another great addition to the series. I’ll be posting links to your series on my website as well!

I had Rachel in mind. Formal request needed? I’m on it. 🙂

politicalsocialworker says:

Reblogged this on The Political Social Worker and commented:
7th in the series and another excellent article form Dr. Michael A. Wright.

politicalsocialworker says:

Another fantastic installment. A text book is an excellent idea.

Rachel, you should consider doing a chapter on politics and social change!


Group Work: How to Make it Work




Cooperative learning, collaborative strategies, group rotations—whatever we decide to call it, the research behind group work in the classroom makes a strong case for embracing collaborative learning. As beneficial as it is, however, group work can easily go awry if the planning and structures are not in place. Here are some suggestions for well-managed group work in the classroom.

Consistency is key when introducing group structures and routines.

Rotations, stations, and group collaboration involve much more than having students circulate through different activities together. Before you can even begin the actual group work, students need to be explicitly instructed on how they will form and work in their groups. Devote some time to having students practice moving into their groups in a quick and organized manner. Encourage students to have only necessary materials out during group work. Practice timed cleanup so that groups familiarize themselves with the amount of time needed to wrap up a work session.

Teacher-derived groups should be deliberate on multiple levels.

Be sure that groups contain personalities that will jive and complement one another. Also be careful to level the groups so that there are higher-ability and lower-ability group members in each group. When possible, groups should be gender-balanced and small enough that every person will play a vital role in the process and product. For the typical classroom, groups should be kept to 4 students or smaller to allow for accountability.

Begin implementing group work by stressing the importance of the process, not necessarily the product.

Of course the end result is important; however, cooperative dialogue, perspective-taking, and synergy are the foundations for a successful group—perfecting the product will come later. You want the groups to work like a well-oiled machine in the sense that each person knows that her individual input is necessary to achieve the end goal.

Have open dialogue about that end goal.

Part of the nuisance of group work is the fact that every group member has a different work ethic, mindset, motivation, and concept of the result. We have all experienced the headache and stress of completing “group work” individually because a partner or group mates were banking on someone else completing the job. To avoid this common pitfall, encourage groups to discuss what each individual’s end goal is and work on compromising from there.

If one person’s goal is to complete the task in as little time as possible, assign that person one of the initial planning, prewriting, or beginning tasks for the project. If another person expresses a deep desire to perfect the group’s project, put that person in charge of checking the final product against the rubric and making edits or adjustments as needed. If one person simply aims to turn something in for credit, put him or her in charge of organizing materials, brainstorming ideas, keeping the group’s notes, etc.—the key is to play to each person’s strengths and desires so that everyone’s intrinsic motivation leads the group to the same end goal.

If one person simply aims to turn something in for credit, put him or her in charge of organizing materials, brainstorming ideas, keeping the group’s notes, etc.—the key is to play to each person’s strengths and desires so that everyone’s intrinsic motivation leads the group to the same end goal.

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5 Motivational Books That Will Help Improve Your Relationships



Sometimes, motivation is necessary for students and teachers to enhance their relationship. In many cases, teachers criticize their students without understanding the challenges they face both at home and at school. During my school years, I was bullied because I was considered soft or not being a tough guy, and I never fought back. To be honest, it was some of the worst years of my life, but I endured it. I also experienced that some of my teachers couldn’t control their attitude towards students especially with me. Maybe you have a difficult relationship in your life, but how do you get through it or try to change the outcome?

Motivation to endure is what kept me going no matter what circumstances I was facing. Now that my school days are in the past, I still need motivation when it comes to facing barriers and challenges in my daily life. Reading inspirational books have given me insight into myself and others, and they help to give me the energy and excitement to continue my journey no matter how bad my situation is. Not only do they apply to improving teacher-student situations, but the lessons learned from these books can be applied to any relationship.

Without further ado, I would like to share five motivational books that would help build a long lasting relationship:

1 – Hit Your Life’s Reset Button by Marc V. Lopez

Marc V. Lopez is a guy who prioritizes God before anything else. He preaches and attends a Roman Catholic praise and worship group known as The Feast founded by Bro. Bo Sanchez. When I participated in a bible study session, he inserted himself promoting his book. I immediately bought it from him, with his signature on it. Marc and I are friends in real life, and I consider him as one of my mentors in life.

For those who lean towards spiritual guidance, this book may appeal to you more than the others. It focuses on improving your relationship with others by putting God at the center of everything. The book costs $4.99 on Amazon.

You can find out more about Marc’s book here.

2 – The Motivation Manifesto by Brendon Burchard

When it comes to personal power, Brendon Burchard is my man. Ever since my friend introduced me to Brendon Burchard, it changed the way I look at life. Sometimes it is easier to gain insight into oneself by reading their journey of someone else. I was inspired by Brendon Burchard’s story from his struggles to success. The main concept is how to look at every situation in a positive way, even if you’re at the worst point of your life.

The Motivation Manifesto is free of charge, and you only need to pay for shipping. I pay something around $7+ for shipping, and it arrived at the post office in less than a month.

You can find more about Brendon’s book here.

3 – Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Another motivational book that I want to recommend is Simon Sinek’s Starts With Why. I bought this book a couple of years ago, and it’s something that inspired me to develop my leadership skills. I firmly believe that this book would be great for anyone looking to become a better leader or manager. It shares inspiring stories from great leaders from the past on how they were able to lead their people to achieve success. If you want to become a better leader, start with this book.

The book itself cost around $10 in the bookstore. You can buy this on Amazon marketplace too. There’s paperback, hardcover, Kindle version and more.

You can find more about Simon’s book here.

4 – How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People teaches you how to navigate stressful relationships. Even if you meet difficult people, the book can teach you how to manage them very well. If you’re a teacher who has problems in handling difficult students, or a student who has an arrogant advisor, this book is for you to read.  If you want to learn how to have more success in your relationships and becoming influential in your social networks, this book will help start your journey.

The book cost you $9 in average. It may be only $9 to spare, but reading the whole thing might get you thinking that it’s worth millions.

You can find more about Dale’s book here.

5 – 25 Ways To Win With People by John C. Maxwell

John C. Maxwell’s 25 Ways To Win With People. It teaches you how to be a better communicator and help you learn skills to change the dynamics of your relationships. This book gives principles to guide you to better love and treat others well, and it also discusses leadership and how to understand different personalities. Once you are able to see your relationships from a different lens, it will be easier to develop and improve them.

For the price of this book, it’s around $15.99 for a paperback cover.

You can find more about John’s book here.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves. – Carl Jung

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Passion Through Lived Experience: Krystal’s Journey to Her MSW




A few months ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Krystal Reddick who is a blogger, a social work student, and overall someone with so much passion and drive. At the age of 23, Krystal was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder during her Master’s in Education grad program.

Ten years later, through her own self-discovery and recovery towards mental wellness, Krystal has decided to pursue a career in social work. Having lived experience and the professional background gives her a unique outlook on the field, and she plans on continuing to share her story in order to help others along the way.

Prevailing research states 1 in every 4 individuals suffer from a mental illness which equates to approximately 61.5 million people in the United States. Also, current research tells us that 50 percent of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14, and 75 percent of all chronic mental illness will manifest by age 24. – Social Work Helper

In the spirit of sharing her experiences, you can view our conversation below:

SWH: Being someone with lived experience and a working professional, what perspective do you bring to the field that differs from your peers who do not have lived experience with a mental illness?

Krystal:As someone with lived experience and an aspiring mental health professional, my perspective feels like a combination of an insider and an outsider. As an insider, I know what my personal experiences have been with my bipolar disorder; I’ve been manic, depressed, and stable. At the same time, once I finish graduate school and become a social worker, I’ll have to have a certain amount of distance and firm boundaries. I hope to be a social worker that can draw on my lived experience; I hope it makes me more understanding and compassionate and patient.

SWH: You stated that you sought out help at your school but it wasn’t helpful. How was that process for you? Did you feel comfortable asking for help? What about it didn’t make it helpful?

Krystal: While I was depressed in graduate school it took me weeks to get up the coverage to seek help from a college therapist. My energy levels were low, and I had practically no follow through. But I eventually made an appointment with a therapist on campus. The process wasn’t that helpful. And I understand why now, a few years removed from the experience.

The therapist recommended I seek outside care through my mother’s health insurance as the grad school’s system was swamped with students. At the time I thought he did not take me or my depression seriously. But I understand now that it was a resource issue. However, his response wasn’t helpful at the time and I never sought help again. It took all I had to come and see him. The only reason I got help was because a subsequent manic episode ended the depression, and I landed in the hospital.

At the time, I thought he did not take me or my depression seriously. But I understand now that it was a resource issue. However, his response wasn’t helpful at the time and I never sought help again. It took all I had to come and see him. The only reason I got help was because a subsequent manic episode ended the depression, and I landed in the hospital.

SWH: What made you have a career change from education to social work?

Krystal: I have been in the education field for 9 years. My own lived experience along with the experiences of a few of my family members coupled with my time as a high school English teacher, have all prompted me to switch careers from education to social work. As a teacher, I felt constrained in my attempts to work with the students. As a teacher, I had to focus on the academic side of things. But I found myself also concerned about my students as people, concerned about their social-emotional development and their development as human beings.

SWH: Can you tell us about the process you took when you had to take a leave from school? What was that like for you?

I experienced my first bout of depression while in my last year of graduate school for education. It was debilitating. I lost about 15 pounds. I didn’t sleep or eat or bathe. I barely left the house. And I avoided family and friends. However, a few months later I became manic. The mania was disruptive in ways that the depression was not. And resulted in a 3-week hospitalization during the spring semester of graduate school.

There was no way I was going to graduate on time, so I withdrew from school to focus on my health and recovery. I felt like a failure for having to “drop out.” All of my college friends were either still in law school or medical school, or were already in the workforce making good money. I felt like a bum in comparison. However, I’ve since learned that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I try not to compare myself or my journey to others. Life is a lot less stressful that way.

SWH: What would you say has been the most helpful in your recovery?

Krystal: I can’t pinpoint just one factor that has been helpful for my recovery. In fact, it has been a combination of medicine, therapy, my support system, and a solid sleep schedule that have helped me most. The medicine, if I take it regularly, keeps me stable and even-keeled. Therapy has been great because my therapist keeps me accountable to myself and the goals I’ve set for my life. Goals that have nothing to do with being diagnosed. He has tried hard to get me to live as normally as possible and not to be debilitated by a mental health label. Next, is my support system: my fiance, my family, and my friends. They all let me know if they see signs that an episode might be looming. They visit me in the hospital, they pray for me, and they love me

Next, is my support system: my fiance, my family, and my friends. They all let me know if they see signs that an episode might be looming. They visit me in the hospital, they pray for me, and they love me despite things I’ve done while manic that are not too nice. And lastly, a regular sleep schedule and good sleep hygiene are important to keep episodes at bay. I don’t sleep much during manic and depressive episodes. So trying to get as much sleep as possible, allows my brain to stay calm.

SWH: What advice would you give to other college students who find themselves struggling with their mental health?

Krystal: For other college students struggling with their mental health while in school, I’d encourage them to seek help. They do not have to go through this alone. I actually wrote an article for The Mighty about navigating mental health concerns while in college or grad school.

Check it out here:

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