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An introduction to social work
An introduction to social work

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Personal values

In beginning to explore this complex and important subject, it’s worth devoting some attention to a wider consideration of where values come from, and where you acquired your own values.

Activity 9 Your own values

Timing: Allow 10 minutes to complete

Think about where your values come from. List the different influences that you think have had an impact on your values.

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In the process of growing up, most people develop a system of values which are influenced by their environments in the widest sense (this includes family, school, community, cultural and wider social environments), by their experiences and by their reflections on both. Through such influences we acquire some idea of what matters most to us – of what we value – and develop a system of personal values, which we eventually bring into our social work. Some of those values may be widely shared within society and some might be held by certain groups within the population.

It is likely that not all of your values will fit in easily with the values you encounter in social work, so it is important to note that social work practice is likely to challenge at least some of the values you hold.

While it is important to understand your own value base there are also values that it is expected that all social workers adhere to in their professional practice, which are communicated in professional frameworks.