Professional Behavioral Standards/Expectations (Graduate)

Field placements are serious business.  This is a major component of your social work education.  Field is where you not only get the opportunity to put into practice what you have been learning in your classes, but it is really the beginning of the shift from student to professional.  Because of that, you will be expected to display professional behaviors in field, similar to what would be expected of a regular employee.

As a social work student, you are also expected to display professional behavior consistent with the NASW Code of Ethics.  When you are working at your field placement, not only do you represent yourself, but you represent the School of Social Work and every other student that will come after you. 

Unfortunately, one student’s poor professional behavior can result in the loss of a placement as an option for future students.  Because of that, the School of Social Work takes your professional behavior in the field very seriously. 

Professional behavior is also a component of your supervisor’s evaluation of your performance in field and therefore directly related to your advancement in/completion of the social work program.

The School of Social Work has the following Standards/Expectations for Professional Behavior:

  1. Appropriate attire-- dressing in casual/business attire appropriate to the agency’s protocol
  2. Attendance and punctuality-- establishing and maintaining a regular schedule; following the agency’s (not the University’s) operational schedule; maintaining a current time sheet/log of placement hours; arriving before the appointed time; being prepared to engage as a working professional; providing prompt notification of tardiness or absences
  3. Respectful demeanor and interactions-- demonstrating respect and deference to staff/clients/peers; conducting oneself in a manner consistent with the values and ethics of NASW and the profession
  4. Professional language and communications-- demonstrating professional oral and written (including electronic) communication skills; using discretion and appropriate professional language in addressing clients/staff/peers; “filtering” language to limit emotional reactivity/content; being very selective in communicating with colleagues outside of regular work hours (e.g. weekends, evenings)
  5. Appropriate effort and initiative-- collaborating with one’s supervisor to identify and complete a weekly work plan/set of work tasks; completing higher priority tasks before secondary tasks; following through on appointed tasks and activities; spending placement hours in professionally useful activity; showing a genuine interest, initiative and engagement in the daily life of the organization; demonstrating intellectual and professional curiosity and insightfulness
  6. Accountability and integrity-- being accountable to the agency’s practice guidelines and expectations; completing tasks and activities in a professional, high quality and timely manner; speaking and acting on behalf of the agency only as authorized by one’s role and responsibilities; maintaining professional integrity and honesty in all activities/interactions; representing accurately the placement hours worked and tasks completed
  7. Boundary maintenance and ethical practice-- maintaining client/agency confidentiality standards, especially when using cell phones/electronic devices; upholding NASW ethical standards and seeking appropriate consultation when in doubt; maintaining strict personal-professional boundaries in the real and virtual work environment, especially in relation to social media (e.g. Facebook); restricting the use of electronic devices to professional purposes only while in the placement setting
  8. Emotional self-regulation-- attending to one’s emotional reactivity and triggers; taking responsibility for one’s feelings/behavior and avoiding blame; avoiding the expression of raw emotions; being personally and professionally centered when engaging with clients/staff; using appropriate professional language (spoken and written) to filter emotional content; demonstrating a willingness to resolve difficult relationships and modify one’s behavior accordingly; not expecting special consideration or ‘entitlement’
  9. Responsiveness to feedback-- demonstrating non-defensive receptivity to feedback and suggestion; showing a willingness to be self-reflective and self-corrective