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Home    >    Moral Distress and Injury in Human Services
Moral Distress and Injury in Human Services
Cases, Causes, and Strategies for Prevention
Frederic G. Reamer
ISBN: 978-0-87101-560-0. 2020. Item # 5600. 196 pages
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Human services professionals are no strangers to ethical dilemmas, from the routine to the extraordinary. When these professionals witness, perpetrate, or fail to prevent acts that violate their deeply held beliefs, the harm that they experience is referred to as moral distress or injury.

Moral distress and injury may trigger a wave of symptoms and emotions that adversely affect the practitioner: posttraumatic stress disorder; sleep dysfunction; physical illness; feelings of overwhelming guilt and remorse; and a sense of demoralization in the form of disheartenment, dejection, hopelessness, loss of values, and despondency. These adverse effects are so debilitating that some practitioners will even leave the profession they love.

In this one-of-a-kind book, Frederic G. Reamer, the social work profession's foremost ethics expert, provides guidance to social workers and related professionals who grapple with these unwanted and unnerving situations and their aftermath, and inspires social workers to advocate for much-needed organizational and policy changes to prevent harm. Drawing on decades of firsthand experience, Dr. Reamer discusses moral distress, injury, and demoralization; the symptoms that can manifest; prevention, self-care, and resilience; legal and ethical obligations, including what it means to be a whistleblower; and how to develop moral courage.

Through extensive and relatable case studies, Dr. Reamer illustrates the myriad ethical dilemmas that most social workers will face in their careers and provides practical exercises and actionable solutions. This informative, enlightening, and inspiring book offers those who are struggling the guidance and fortitude to make the right decisions, and to strengthen themselves and their profession.

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Chapter 1: The Nature of Moral Injury, Moral Distress, and Demoralization
Chapter 2: The Causes of Moral Injury, Moral Distress, and Demoralization
Chapter 3: Secondary Trauma, Compassion Satisfaction, and Moral Repair
Chapter 4: Moral Choices and Ethical Decisions: The Challenge of Whistleblowing
Chapter 5: The Role of Prevention, Advocacy, and Moral Courage
Chapter 6: Practitioner Self-Care and Resilience

About the Author
This groundbreaking book takes Dr. Reamer's past and current scholarship on ethics to a new level. He is going where others have not had the courage or data to go. Tackling the very real-life impact that witnessing unsafe, incompetent, and unethical behavior has on social work practitioners and the profession, he writes with deep knowledge, compassion, and guidance. This book is a wake-up call for supervisors, administrators, and executive directors of social services agencies and hospitals to review agency policies and procedures and the personnel working within their settings, and a warning for social work educators to hold themselves accountable in their gatekeeping role. Dr. Reamer's story will reach thousands of social workers who can then say, "Me, too."

Mary Jo Monahan, LCSW
Past CEO, Association of Social Work Boards
Culpeper, VA
Frederic G. Reamer, Ph.D., is a professor in the graduate program of the School of Social Work, Rhode Island College. His research and teaching have addressed a wide range of human service issues, including mental health, health care, criminal justice, and professional ethics. Dr. Reamer has served as a social worker in correctional and mental health settings and has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on the subjects of professional ethics and professional malpractice and liability. Dr. Reamer received the Distinguished Contributions to Social Work Education award from the Council on Social Work Education (1995), the Presidential Award from the National Association of Social Workers (1997), the International Rhoda G. Sarnat Award from the National Association of Social Workers (2012), the Excellence in Ethics Award from the National Association of Social Workers (2015), and the inaugural Contributor Award from the Association of Social Work Boards (2019). In 2016, Dr. Reamer was named a Social Work Pioneer by the National Association of Social Workers.

Dr. Reamer's books include Risk Management in Social Work: Preventing Professional Malpractice, Liability, and Disciplinary Action (Columbia University Press); Heinous Crime: Cases, Causes, and Consequences (Columbia University Press); On the Parole Board: Reflections on Crime, Punishment, Redemption, and Justice (Columbia University Press); Criminal Lessons: Case Studies and Commentary on Crime and Justice (Columbia University Press); The Social Work Ethics Casebook: Cases and Commentary (NASW Press); Social Work Values and Ethics (Columbia University Press); Boundary Issues and Dual Relationships in the Human Services (Columbia University Press); The Philosophical Foundations of Social Work (Columbia University Press); Ethical Standards in Social Work: A Review of the NASW Code of Ethics (NASW Press); Ethical Dilemmas in Social Service (Columbia University Press); The Social Work Ethics Audit: A Risk Management Tool (NASW Press); A Guide to Essential Human Services (NASW Press); Ethics Education in Social Work (Council on Social Work Education); The Foundations of Social Work Knowledge (Columbia University Press; editor and contributor); Ethics and Risk Management in Online and Distance Social Work (Cognella Academic Publishing); Ethics and Risk Management in Online and Distance Behavioral Health (Cognella Academic Publishing); Social Work Research and Evaluation Skills (Columbia University Press); AIDS and Ethics (Columbia University Press; editor and contributor); Rehabilitating Juvenile Justice (Columbia University Press; coauthor, Charles H. Shireman); Teens in Crisis: How the Industry Serving Struggling Teens Helps and Hurts Our Kids (Columbia University Press; coauthor, Deborah H. Siegel); Finding Help for Struggling Teens: A Guide for Parents and the Professionals Who Work with Them (NASW Press; coauthor, Deborah H. Siegel); and The Teaching of Social Work Ethics (The Hastings Center; coauthor, Marcia Abramson).