Ethical Professional Writing in Social Work and Human Services
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Social workers write a lot and their writing has a major impact on people's lives. The complexity of their writing task arises because they must deal with confidential client information while usually writing for multiple audiences. This means that social work students must achieve more than the basics of technical writing skills. The purpose of this article is twofold. First, after reviewing the literature on the importance and challenges of writing well in social work (and having hosted a number of writing workshops for social workers and human services practitioners), we argue that the development of students' writing skills must be framed within the social, political and ethical professional circumstances in which students will be working in the future. By teaching writing skills through the lens of the profession's ethics and values, students will be instilled with a greater understanding of the importance of writing. Second, we propose a model of ethical professional writing which integrates three essential elements that must conjoin in tandem: reflective mindfulness of the client-centred focus of writing responsibilities; a sound understanding of the values and principles of the social work and human services professions as highlighted in the unifying themes in various codes of ethics; and competence in compositional, rhetorical and technical writing skills. In particular, this article focuses on the second element of this model which is concerned with having a sound understanding of the values and principles of ethical professional writing. We conclude that this framework will promote writing competence and benefit clients.
Ethics and Social Welfare
© 2015 Taylor & Francis (Routledge). This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethics and Social Welfare on 13 Feb 2015, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17496535.2015.1009481
Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified