[035.18] Is it ever acceptable for social workers to ignore their clients?

This is a discussion that is taking place in the US following a post in a New York blog, where it is described as a social worker pretend to not know a client that ran into her (and family) in the street. Later on, in their next meeting, the social worker started to say that she didn’t see him, but then justified with the fact that she was in her “private space”.

Several opinions and thoughts have been expressed, some against the social worker’s behaviour and some others trying to explain why she did what she did. These arguments go from she being heartless to the fact that she might be just protecting the client’s privacy.

This doesn’t seem to be an easy and straightforward situation as it involves professionals aspects as confidentiality and professional boundaries, but we can’t also forget that social work is (or must be!!) based in the creation and development of relationships and this is the most important tool we have in our day-to-day practice.and an attitude like this one may truly jeopardize the support and progress being made with the client.

Having said this, and having in consideration that different clients will have different thoughts about this, it is my belief that we can’t ignore clients, we shouldn’t ignore clients at any point or moment, with one single exception…

…when the client wants this to happen.

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