Social workers respect and promote the right of clients to self-determination and assist clients in their efforts to identify and clarify their goals. Social workers may limit clients’ right to self-determination when, in the social workers’ professional judgment, clients’ actions or potential actions pose a serious, foreseeable, and imminent risk to themselves or others.
For exam item writers, this may be a particularly alluring paragraph. Social workers are usually by nature caretakers, givers, helpers. But when is helping unhelpful or just plain unethical? Don't be surprised to find questions about close-call situations that put your caregiving instincts at odds with the principle of self-determination. A client chooses to live on the street...chooses addiction over recovery...chooses anything that may not ultimately be in their self-interest. Remember this part of the code and you'll know how to answer.