Advocacy in Action

Through the stories we share, the Admissions Team at Baylor University hopes to inspire and educate future leaders in social work.

Core Values of Social Work and Why They Matter

Written by Baylor School of Social Work Team on 04.20.23

If you want to know whether or not you would be a good social worker, you have to understand the core values of social work. These values guide a social worker's mission and energize you to help your clients. So, what are the core values of social work and how do these values shape the social work profession? More directly, how do these values align with the skills and characteristics of a good social worker

The six core values of social work have been established by the National Association of Social Work to guide social workers in their lives and roles. See what values are important for you to maintain as a social worker. 


Social workers in every corner of the field can agree, their heart for the job is rooted in service. This core value of social work speaks to a social worker’s need to help others, especially the disadvantaged. As a social worker, you can evaluate the needs of your clients and serve them through thoughtful and experienced decision making. 

Whether you’re working with youth, the LGBTQ+ population, the elderly, or other disadvantaged populations, social workers’ drive to serve is what moves them. Without this core value, the why behind your mission would begin to fall apart. 

Social Justice

Along with serving others, a social worker strives to do the right thing — to provide and encourage the fair treatment of all — and in the profession your commitment to social justice will guide your ethical decision making. 

As a social worker, you commit to strengthening the systems of social justice in the world and creating equitable and sustainable lives for your clients. 

Dignity and Worth of the Person

Social workers are trained to challenge stereotypes and to see a person beyond the labels society has given them (unhoused, felon, LGBTQ+, etc.). Social workers, better than most, can see beyond labels to better serve their needs. 

You might be the first or only person in a client’s life to see them beyond their label and start to help them. Without this value, you may not be able to truly understand and assist your clients. 

Importance of Human Relationships

To build trust with their clients, a social worker has to be dependable and relatable. Once that trust is established, you can begin the important work you set out to do. The relationship between the social worker and the client is important to the progress made for the client. 

For instance, when working with children, building trust with the social worker and establishing a solid relationship allows the child to feel safe and secure. Young clients often lack this secure attachment to adults in their lives. Your ability to value human relationships provides the child with the security they did not otherwise have. 


“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” - Oprah Winfrey

When working with vulnerable populations, it would be easy to cut corners, look the other way, or take the easy way out. But social workers' core value of integrity guides their decision-making. 

Vulnerable populations don’t often have the resources to protect themselves and as a social worker, it's your responsibility to assist them physically, emotionally and reliably. Without integrity, the entire field and its mission would crumble.


As the world changes, social workers must also continually advance their knowledge. To best serve your clients, it's recommended that you continue seeking professional development opportunities, keep up on related politics and legislation, and be involved in the communities you serve.

When you do that, you can feel assured that your decisions and the counsel you provide your clients are relevant, appropriate, and helpful.

These key social work values continually guide professionals to pursue what is best for their clients. See how your background fits into the world of social work: The Characteristics of a Successful Social Worker.

Explore More: Baylor’s MSW/MBA Guide


Posted by Baylor School of Social Work Team

We are the admissions team at the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, at Baylor University. We believe social work is about service and justice; it is about the dignity of individuals and the power of relationships; it is about integrity and competence, and our mission here is preparing social workers to do these things well. We hope you find our resources helpful and informative as you explore and pursue a degree in social work!




If you're interested in learning more about the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and the programs we have to offer, we invite you to reach out to our team! 

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