Ethical and Confidentiality Issues in Social Work - SW02

Ethical and Confidentiality Issues in Social Work

by Kathleen Boland, PhD, LCSW, ACSW
(4.4 / 1757 ratings )

This course is credentialed for:
Social Work (1.00 CE ClockHr)


The course will be discontinued on August 15, 2019. Please plan to finish the course by August 14th if you wish to earn credit for it.
Confidentiality has long been considered the cornerstone of the relationship between patient and clinician. Historically, practitioners were taught that it was unethical to reveal confidential patient information and that confidentiality was viewed as absolute. Clients expect that information shared will be kept confidential, and social workers have a responsibility to keep information safe from unauthorized disclosure. However, the obligation to maintain confidentiality is not absolute, but relative, since there are occasions, such as child abuse and neglect, homicide, and suicidal ideation, when confidentiality should and must be broken. Changes in the law during the past 20 years have altered how we view confidentiality.


The goal of this confidentiality continuing education program is to explain the role of confidentiality, privileged communication, duty to warn and mandated reporting in the practice of medical social work. After studying the information presented here, you will be able to:
  • Identify the underpinnings of confidentiality in the patient-social worker relationship
  • Describe the legal premise of privileged communication
  • Discuss the balance between duty to warn and patient confidentiality

Approval Information
OnCourse Learning, provider # 1203, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. OnCourse Learning maintains responsibility for the program. Approval Period: February 15, 2017 to February 15, 2020. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval.Social workers participating in this course will receive 1.0 social work ethics continuing education clock hours.
OnCourse Learning is also accredited by the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling (provider # FBN 50-1489).
OnCourse Learning, SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0401. This approval is for a three-year term beginning August 1, 2016 and ending July 31, 2019.
Course delivery format: Online Self-Study, Non-interactive
Instructional Method: Narrative 
Social Workers
Social Work Practice Levels: Intermediate
Course Completion Requirements and Awarding Certificate
After reading the presentation, complete the course test online. With a score of 75% or better and completing the evaluation, you may immediately print your CE certificate of completion or save a pdf of it for your records. You may also request a copy to be sent to you by mail. If your score is less than the passing score of 75%, you may retake the test. In the event of loss, there is no charge for a replacement copy of a CE certificate.
Jurisdictional Requirements
Continuing education licensing requirements vary by jurisdiction, are not well defined, and may change. We recommend you contact your licensing board or accrediting organization for the latest continuing education requirements of your state or territory. To review state specific/jurisdictional continuing education requirements, click here.
Accommodations for Disabilities
Every effort will be made to accommodate your special needs. To request accommodation; please contact the CE office at (800) 866-0919.
Grievance Procedure
OnCourse Learning is committed to conducting all activities in strict conformance with accreditation agencies and boards. OnCourse Learning will comply with all responsibilities to be nondiscriminatory in activities, program content, and in treatment of participants. The monitoring and assessment of compliance with these standards will be the responsibility of members of the Provider Unit Planning Committee and continuing education division.
While OnCourse Learning attempts to assure fair treatment of all participants, we recognize grievances that may require intervention. Grievances are handled in the following manner:
When a participant, either orally or in written format, files a grievance, a member of the Provider Unit Planning Committee will evaluate the nature of the complaint. If it is meritorious, a member of the Provider Unit Planning Committee will instruct the staff to implement any necessary changes in the course. The complainant will receive a response from a member of the Provider Unit Planning Committee or designated staff within 5 working days.
If the results of the grievance process are unsatisfactory, New Jersey social workers have the option to contact the approving entity, with an option to appeal to their licensing board.
You may file a complaint by telephone or email.
Telephone #: 800.866.0919
Email: CE@