Some of the common issues that may arise include confidentiality, professional boundaries, respecting the client’s right to self-determination and being aware of conflicts of interest.


Families coming to the attention of child protection services may experience multiple complex problems, including alcohol and drug abuse, family violence, mental illness, parents with past experiences of maltreatment, social isolation, and parental physical and intellectual disability.

Laws that every human service worker needs to know include: confidentiality; privileged communication; privacy; due process; and informed consent. There is considerable disagreement about privileged communication, and it is being tested continuously in practice and in courts.

Social workers providing services in rural areas are often isolated, and face major ethical issues of dual relationships, competence, boundaries, and conflict of interest.