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Relational Ethics

Professionals are required to follow guidance from their ethical frameworks, organisations' policies and procedures, as well as legal requirements. Ultimately, boundary decisions require professional judgement about what is an ethical and effective practice. Decision-making requires the evaluation of various rules, guidance, principles, and values which can be a challenging aspect of practice, especially if the presenting issues are based within a morally grey area.


Whilst there are various models of ethical decision-making, one that is often underused when making professional boundary decisions is relational ethics. Relational ethics is based on the principles of the interconnectedness of people and a commitment to justice and is associated with anti-oppressive and anti-discriminatory social work practice.

Activism allows for the voices of those not often heard in political processes to come to the forefront. The values of social work are intrinsically aligned with that of activism; that we can offer the space for people to empower themselves and to make them understand that their thoughts, opinions and feelings really matter within the widest social context.  Goodley (2015) suggests that “the social work activist recognises that the best solutions are often rooted in the indigenous responses within the community and the strengths and resilience that are both visible and invisible to others”. Therefore it becomes the role of social care practitioners as activists to create the space for those voices to be heard and listened to.

Relational Activism

“She stepped over boundaries and reached into my world. She reached me in a way no one before had cared to try. It was more than a job to her and I sensed that”
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