Managing Ethical and Legal Dilemmas: Critical Thinking in Social Work Practice
By: Rachel Birnbaum, PhD, RSW, LL.M., Craig W. Sigurdson, CD, CYW, CAdd, BSW, MSW, RSW, LL.B.
ISBN/ISSN/Product Number: 978-0-7798-8401-8
Product Type: Book
Number of Pages: 150
Binding: softcover
Publication Date: 2018-02-28
Publisher: Carswell
Price: $90.00

Can We Help?

If you need assistance, please call us at

  • (416) 609-3800 (Toronto & international)
  • 1-800-387-5164 (toll free Canada & US)

We will be glad to assist you.

Social workers and mental health professionals must develop skills to balance their roles as “human service” workers and actors in the legal system. But until they’re thrust into real-world situations, few have an opportunity to apply legal and ethical reasoning to the kinds of dilemmas they’ll face in daily practice. And without legal training, they’re often uncertain of their legal roles and obligations. Now, a breakthrough text prepares them to deal with ethical dilemmas in a critical, but reflective and thoughtful manner as they practise within the framework of the law and Canadian codes of ethics. With this book, your students will examine specific problem areas involving children, families, agencies, legislation and policy-making, brought to life by case studies and vignettes. As your students grapple with the complexities of ethical decision-making, they’ll come to understand that there are no easy answers. But by working through the process, they’ll discover the skills and confidence to develop conclusions, articulate their reasoning, and defend their decisions. Order today, and help your students develop a process of self-reflection they’ll use throughout their careers.
About the Author

Rachel Birnbaum, PhD, RSW, LLM, is cross-appointed to Childhood Studies and Social Institutions & Social Work at King’s University College, Western, Ontario, where she teaches about children’s participation in the justice system and social work ethics and the law. Dr. Birnbaum has extensive clinical practice and research experience in working with children and families of separation and/or divorce. She has presented both nationally and internationally at workshops and conferences on children and the law, working with high-conflict families, the voice of the child, and collaboration between law and social work.

She has authored over 100 papers with colleagues in social work, law, psychology, and medicine. Dr. Birnbaum has also co-authored Child Custody Assessments: A Resource Guide for Legal and Mental Health Professionals (2008); Challenging Issues in Child Custody Disputes: A Guide for Legal and Mental Health Professionals (2008); Law for Social Workers: A Canadian Guide, 5th ed. (Thomson Reuters, 2016); and Practicing Social Work Research: Case Studies for Learning, 2nd ed. (University of Toronto Press, 2017).

Dr. Birnbaum is the 2016 member of the Royal Society of Canada, College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists; the 2016 recipient of the Hugh Mellon Distinguished Research Award; and the 2014 recipient of the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award (an interdisciplinary award from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts). She was the president of the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers for four years, the president of the Canadian Council of Social Work Regulators for two years, and the president of AFCC-Ontario from 2015 to 2016.

Craig W. Sigurdson, CD, CYW, CAdd, BSW, MSW, RSW, LLB, of the Ontario Bar, is an adjunct professor in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University. He has also taught in the School of Social Work at both King’s University College at Western University and at the University of Windsor.

Craig’s career in the Ontario Public Service spans nearly 25 years. He started as a correctional officer in a maximum-security institution and worked as a social worker at the London Psychiatric Hospital and as the senior officer in charge at the Child and Parent Resource Institute. While attending law school, Craig served as a child protection worker with the Children’s Aid Society of London & Middlesex, and also worked at the London Family Court Clinic, conducting assessments of children in conflict with the law as well as custody and access investigations, including authoring reports addressing possible transfer to adult court for children who had killed.

Craig currently works as an Assistant Crown Attorney in St. Thomas, Ontario. As a prosecutor, he has taken carriage of the full gamut of criminal cases, from mischief to murders. He has handled dangerous offender applications. Craig is the domestic violence lead within his office and frequently prosecutes child abuse cases. He regularly appears before the Ontario Review Board. Craig is most proud of his work in co-envisioning a therapeutic court for Elgin County and serves as the Crown Counsel on that docket.