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Emotional Dependency Needs


The purpose of the paper is to analyze and evaluate the barrier to ethical practice in social work in relation to the case study. Ethics and dual relationship in social work cover various themes that affect the connection between professionals and clients in interaction and provision of services in the line of duty. Social work requires the establishment of stable relationships to ensure the well-being of the clients and to impact the lives of the clients positively. Social work practices engage in the development of social bonds that create ethical dilemmas for social workers and clients. The paper emphasizes the challenging aspect of ethics and relationships in the profession that demand the maintenance of ethical standards and the barriers that hinder social work professional boundaries in maintaining client welfare. The paper depicts the situations that affect the ethical and dual relationship between the client and social workers that involve the client’s emotional dependency needs that involve extending relationships with clients, which develop confusion in professional and personal lives in the social work industry. The social work profession is challenged in matters of privacy and confidentiality when the relationship becomes extremely personal, resulting in challenges of serving the clients toward positive impact. The paper further delves into the potential challenge involved in altruistic gestures that comprise performing favors to cover the professional, providing nonprofessional services to cover unethical practices and engagement beyond the workplace. The paper evaluates the consequences and solutions to ethics and dual relationship challenges.

Case study on emotional dependency and altruistic gestures


This case study examines the central themes in the ethics and dual relationships in social work under the emotional dependency needs and altruistic gestures that affect the professionals and clients connection. The paper highlights the barriers that arise in social work due to complications that create complex dynamics (Reamer, 2003). Clients emotionally depend on the social work profession for validation and recovery from the situation that leads to therapy. Interpersonal relationships create a bonding aspect between the client and the professional, which may result in a relationship beyond the working environment that affects the ethical aspect of the professional. The altruistic gestures reveal the will of social workers to support the client to ensure a positive impact by the final session with clients. However, ethical considerations in social work limit the professional in availability to the clients beyond the working environment.

Privacy and confidentiality are core principles in the social work ethics and codes of conduct which, when violated, develop guilt and incompetence in the profession. The paper aims to evaluate the case study based on the effects of extending the relationship with clients, reversing roles with clients and confusion in personal and professional lives (National Association of Social Workers, 2017). Further, the paper evaluates the challenges of the ready availability of the professional to the clients in duty performance and dual relationship perception of the situation. The paper focuses on the importance of maintenance of ethical practice in social work by analyzing the challenges that hinder professionalism. The paper is divided into sections; key terms are a summary of the case that builds the discussion topic of the paper. The discussion involves the key issues arising in the case study concerning ethical issues in social work. This case study presents the reflection, discussion and understanding of the complex connection between emotional dependency and altruistic gestures that affect ethical practices in social work.

Key terms

Emotional dependency refers to the tendency to rely on another person for support and validation after an incident that affects the well-being of the individual. The altruistic gesture is the empathy and compassion that reveal acts of kindness and will to support and build another person, especially in welfare cases. Boundaries is another term that refers to the limitation that defines and guides the relationship among different parties in any situation (Reamer, 2003). Ethical implications refer to the ultimate effects of a certain situation. Reflection and understanding is the critical evaluation and analysis of a situation in relation to the actions, impacts and consequences of the situation. The understanding involves the connection of experiences, the development of self-awareness and the incorporation of ethical practice in decision-making.

Summary of the case study

The case study involves Jasmine and Juana, a wife and husband that engage in counseling after a fire incident in their home. The incident occurred at home when Jasmine was sleeping while the daughter, Lilian, was playing in the house, which caused the tragic scenario. Lilian was burnt during the incident, which led to the involvement of child protective services, which introduced counseling as part of the treatment plan. Juan and Jasmine were obliged to attend the counseling plan to regain the custody of their children. Mandy is a professional therapist that was to provide counseling to the couple and ensure monthly urine analysis aimed at monitoring substance abuse among Jasmine and Juane.

Mandy created a rapport with the couple to enhance the therapy session since Juane was initially resistant. Mandy creates altruistic gestures to ensure the cooperation of the couple in therapy. Jasmine develops emotional dependency such that she relies on Mandy for validation and support through the recovery period. However, the relationship goes beyond the working environment, which involves the client and therapist’s exchange of favors (Reamer, 2003). Jasmine confesses to using cocaine, which would be revealed in the monthly urinal analysis, which Mandy accepts to skip the test to save her. On the other hand, Mandy becomes unprofessional by exposing the privacy and confidentiality of the family, which leads to the need to terminate the counselling session and requests the couple to cover in case the supervisor calls to confirm. Later, the couple requests Mandy to have a private relationship with them, failure to which they expose her to the supervisor.

Discussion of ethical issues

Emotional and dependency needs

A professional code of ethics guides social workers on the expected behaviors and conduct in handling clients. The social worker engages in various activities to build a mutual relationship with the client to support and help in the recovery program. The clients depend on the social worker for services and assurance of well-being after therapy and counseling sessions that enhance the recovery process (Reamer, 2003). In the case above, Mandy, the therapist, guided and counselled the couple to enhance the recovery process to facilitate regain of custody of their children that was revoked through the child protection services. The relationship between the social worker and the clients narrows as the therapist develops an interest in care for the family that goes beyond the professional range. The client and social worker make deals to favor and cover each other within the therapy period that involves meeting away from the working environment. Emotional dependency is beneficial to the clients but challenges the ethical perception in social work due to the inability to maintain boundaries.

The social worker fails to set boundaries that are essential in the ethical codes of conduct. Crossing boundaries, in this case, leads to unprofessional practice and unhealthy relationships between the clients and social workers. The ethical principles in social work demand competence and integrity of the workers that involves adhering to the recovery plan without compromise for accountability and professionalism (National Association of Social Workers, 2017). Mandy engages in a friendly social relationship that involves personal life interaction, such as home visits to the family to share meals. The issue with attending invites for the professional is that it may create an impression of interest to the clients. Clients develop expectations beyond the care intention of the social worker. Mandy attends the home invites from the family and social interaction that involves frequent calls away from the professional practice in support of the recovery and treatment plan, which changes due to the client’s perception of the situation.

Emotional and dependency needs in social work create a challenge in social work in establishing a dual relationship between the client and the professional. To navigate the challenge, setting boundaries becomes essential to develop and maintain professional relationships. Individuals in the social work practice should gauge their interpersonal skills to ensure healthy relationships that positively impact the client’s lives without engagement on a personal level (National Association of Social Workers, 2017). Social workers focus on promoting professionalism that eliminates the chances of objectivity, professional judgment and compromises in practice. Mandy falls victim to compromising objectivity due to engagement in a dual relationship with the clients, creating a chance of incompetence in the profession. The social work profession requires the ability to avoid personal bias that involves countertransference. Personal emotions and attachment to the clients affect the performance due to decision-making based on biases that abandon the main role of intervention based on the professional program.

Therefore, emotional and dependency needs in social work require adherence to the professional code of ethics. Social workers should minimize the dual relationship with the clients that foster extreme dependence (Reamer, 2003). The professional aspects require the social worker’s determination to help the client develop self-determination, enabling informed decision-making and enhancing the client’s independence and sense of responsibility. Respecting and maintaining confidentiality and privacy is also an ethical obligation in social work since the social worker accesses sensitive and personal information, which should be secured as the law demands. The consequence of unethical practice in maintaining emotional and dependency needs is compromised in the profession.

Altruistic gestures

The ethical issue associated with altruistic gestures in the social work profession is the failure to establish boundaries. Social work involves helping individuals that lead to kindness, compassion and empathy that require professional management to avoid altering the code of ethics. In this case, Mandy discovered the disconnection and uncooperative aspect in Juan for the counseling and urinary test program on recovery and developed a dual relationship to facilitate a change of attitude (Reamer, 2003). Also, Mandy created a personal relationship with Jasmine to establish the support and validation the client needed. The challenge is that Mandy failed to address power balance considering the well-being of the clients. Power imbalance arose when the social worker invested personal emotions in helping the couple, which is unethical. The ethical code of conduct in social work requires competence to eliminate manipulation in decision-making.

Also, altruistic gestures can interfere with the boundary limits in the social work profession. Social workers’ engagement in roles beyond the professional limit lead to dual relationships that affect the social welfare program and imply unethical practice. Mandy developed a personal relationship with the couple, which led to access to personal details about the family; later, she disclosed the information contrary to the confidentiality and privacy context in the code of ethics (National Association of Social Workers, 2017). Mandy became uncomfortable and terminated the treatment plan. Further, the therapist develops a dual relationship with the family, requesting a cover-up from the supervisor to follow up on cases. The altruistic acts in these cases lead to risking the job of the therapist due to the compromises involved. The social worker engages in impartial judgment based on the dual relationship that affects professionalism.

In this case, the altruistic gestures of the social worker develop ethical issues that involve crossing boundaries and creating a dual relationship. The crossing of boundaries is evident as the couple wants to have a private relationship on the condition that they would cover up on the supervisor’s confirmation of their case program. The dual relationship creates comprise and objectivity in social work, which is against the social work principles that guide the practices in the profession (National Association of Social Workers, 2017). Generally, social workers should be careful in engaging in altruistic actions to ensure consideration of ethical implications in the performance of duty. Personal relationships with clients that involve interactions beyond the working program should be cautiously monitored to avoid complications and manipulation in the clients’ decision-making. Observation of the code of ethics in social work promotes healthy relationships between the professional and clients.

Altruistic gestures are therapeutic in nature of social help in support and validation of clients that require an examination to minimize chances of challenges due to complexities that conflict with the ethical code of conduct in social work practices. Altruistic actions need assessment to recognize and manage compromises that arise due to an imbalance of power that cause the comprising situation for the client to manipulate the social worker (Reamer, 2003). The ethical code of conduct emphasizes on maintenance of professionalism that enacts power balance and eliminates instances of personal biases in the practice. Resources allocation enhances reasonable actions and power due to a lack of interest in material offers from the clients that could lead to manipulation due to a dual relationship.

Personal benefit

Personal benefit ethical issue in the social work profession involves the exchange of favors between the social worker and client. The exchange of favor varies depending on the needs of the client and the social worker. The exchange of favor ruins the professional aspect of social work due to impartial judgment and manipulation in decision-making among the parties involved (Reamer, 2003). The dual relationship in the case led to the demand to exchange favors between the couple and the therapist. Unethical practices create chances of compromise, which demotes the integrity and competence of the social worker. Mandy violated the confidentiality and privacy code of ethics, which led to changes in sessions for the client and the maintenance of the personal relationship. The clients comprised the situation by confirming to the supervisor the successful completion of the treatment plan. However, in return, the couple wanted to have a private relationship with the social worker.

The social worker engaged in the impartial judgment of the situation by compiling a false report on the completion of the counseling session due to the unethical practice involving confidentiality and privacy that are highly upheld in the codes of ethics. Mandy became unprofessional when she disclosed information which resulted in other unethical practices. Termination of the sessions is an illegal practice that limits the achievement of the intended purpose of the therapy (National Association of Social Workers, 2017). The social worker’s excessive availability of nonprofessional activities for the client leads to the development of personal interest from the family. Social workers require to maintain professional aptitude that limits personal emotions when engaging with clients to ensure the maintenance of the principles of conduct in the practice of social justice.

Therefore, personal benefits in social work affect the competence and judgment perception of the social worker. Social workers should avoid engagement in the client’s personal affairs, especially when in session on recovery and treatment plan to avoid the development of personal desires and feelings that would affect the professional relationship (Reamer, 2003). Social workers should remain diligent and purpose to enhance the development of independence among the clients that enhance maintenance codes of conduct in social work. The principles should reflect in the social worker’s actions to eliminate chances of compromise. Social workers should focus on learning that enables the individual to develop and earn respect in the profession. Intimidation and compromises involved in the dual relationship of the client and the social worker undermine integrity and competence, which leads to the potential risk of disqualification in the profession. Social workers should evaluate their personal attributes to ensure professionalism.

In conclusion, the case study on emotional dependency needs and altruistic gestures addresses the ethical issues that arise in the social work profession. Social workers face challenges in the profession to the complex issues associated with the ethical code of conduct in social justice. Emotional dependency assures and validates the clients, a form of therapy requiring attention to measure the degree to avoid personal attachment that affects the judgment perception. Boundaries are essential social work practice to ensure that the clients maintain their lane and the social worker limits the chances of boundary crossing. The inability to set boundaries affects the performance of social work and generates dual relationships. Altruistic gestures also create challenges in social work by increasing dependency, leading to compromises and impartial judgment in the situation. Analyzing and reflecting on the challenging ethical performance in social work helps to understand and overcome the challenges. Therefore, social workers should analyze and evaluate the power balance to ensure control of situations and maintain professionalism. The social work ethical codes should guide social workers to maintain dignity and respect.


National Association of Social Workers (2017). Code of Ethics of the National Association of

Social Workers. Retrieved from

Reamer, F. G. (2003). Boundary issues in social work: Managing dual relationships. Social Work, 48 (1), 121-133.


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