Legal considerations in field experience

Legal considerations in field experience


Social services agencies are molded and guided by specific legal considerations. Social workers face different ethical and legal issues throughout their careers. They have to make difficult decisions about treatment matters, develop awareness of value conflicts, and maintain professional boundaries. Therefore, they are guided by the legal and ethical guidelines provided by the National Association of Social Worker’s Code of Ethics in different areas of their profession.

Legal Considerations experienced in Field Education

During my field work experience in a mental health agency, a legal consideration that I had to address involved consent to treatment.  I dealt with a patient with mental health challenges who refused admission to the psychiatric facility. According to NASW Code of Ethics, social workers are required to honor the client’s right to self-determination, whereby a client has the right to make their own choices and decisions regarding treatment (Birkenmaier & Berg-Weger, 2018). Many clients and mostly referred by another agency or family member to come for care because they could be suffering from substance abuse or mental illness. Their choice to receive treatment is made for them.

Challenge in adhering to Legal Consideration

The potential challenge in adhering to legal considerations that I encountered during my field education experience include working within the area of my competence. The NASW code of Ethics mandates social workers to provide services to clients in a competent way only within the boundaries of their certification, license, training, and education ((Birkenmaier & Berg-Weger, 2018). Sometimes I get clients who inquire about legal questions that only required the advice of a professional lawyer. I do not have legal training on the profession or related field and providing counsel outside my scope of work exposes me to legal risk.  However, since a client cannot afford a lawyer, I could assist them by establishing meaningful relationships with local attorneys to assist where they can.


It is evident that social workers face various legal challenges when dealing with clients. However, adhering to the legal considerations laid down by the NASW is crucial in helping them stay on course and avoid legal risks. The NASW guides social workers in every aspects thus help them to effectively address the legal challenges they encounter in their day to day lives.


Birkenmaier, J., & Berg-Weger, M. (2018). The practicum companion for social work: Integrating class and fieldwork (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

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