A social worker has been seeing a client–who is an accomplished artist–in private practice
for ten months. The client has made excellent progress and is ready to terminate therapy.
During the final session, the client presents the social worker with a picture of his dog,
which she painted from a photograph that he had on his desk. What is the BEST way for
the social worker to handle this situation?
A. The social worker should explain that he cannot accept this gift, even though this is a kind and
B. The social worker should remind the client that he discussed gift-giving during the initial
C. The social worker should offer to buy the painting from the client
D. The social worker should accept the gift as it is a painting of his dog and would not have
meaning to anyone else
The correct answer is “A” – The social worker should explain that he cannot accept this gift, even
though this is a kind and generous gesture. Since this client is a professional artist, this gift has
significant monetary value, and, subsequently, there is the possibility that the client’s family
could bring a lawsuit against the social worker for accepting a gift of this value. In general, it is
not good practice for social workers to accept gifts from clients. Reminding the client that the
social worker discussed gift-giving during the initial interview (answer “B”) may be part of the
explanation to the client, but first, the social worker should make it clear that it is unethical for
him to accept the gift. Offering to buy the painting from the client (answer “C”) is not correct
because this action would result in a conflict of interest with this client. Accepting the gift as it is
a painting of the social worker’s dog and would not have meaning to anyone else (answer “D”) is
not correct because, even though a painting of his dog would have more meaning to him, it very
well could be sold to another individual.
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