Charles L. Robbins
The distribution of illness and its impact are not random occurrences. Social workers can prevent illness through education and behavioral change as well as mitigate its impact once it does occur, and social workers should be knowledgeable about illness and the health status of the people with whom they work. As advocates for our clients, it is important that we pursue policies and programs that address the inadequacies and injustices in health care. To accomplish this, we must be prepared with the necessary knowledge.
Sadye L. M. Logan
Research has shown that social workers and other helping professionals can make use of the contemplative practices from religion and spiritual disciplines. These practices can be utilized as tools that help social workers become more intentional and effective change agents as helpers in their work with individuals, families, children, and communities. This entry discusses the evolution and emergence of the practices of meditation and mindfulness within the helping context, starting with the historic roots in different religions to its usage in the early 21st century with children and families. Additionally, it addresses the limitations and benefits of meditation and mindfulness as practice tools.
A consistent theme for the majority of men in the United States remains the code of manhood. Men are expected by society to be stoic in the face of danger and to play out, in all aspects of life, the idea of the rugged individual going it alone, even in the face of a quickly changing world. Whereas social-work theorists and practitioners talk about male aggression, sexuality, intimacy, depression, anxiety, addiction, ageing, and work-related concerns, most men are less likely to view these as problems. If they do enter into counseling or treatment, they are less likely to remain for any length of time. Faced with these issues, practitioners are challenged to find ways of engaging men and forming successful collaboration and meaningful outcomes.
Catherine G. Greeno
Mental illnesses are very common; more than one-quarter of people will develop a mental illness during their lifetime. Mental illnesses are associated with substantial disability in work, relationships, and physical health, and have been clearly established as one of the leading causes of disability in the developing, as well as the industrialized world. Mental disorders are common in every service sector important to social workers, and affect outcomes in every service sector. Mental disorders are strongly associated with poverty worldwide, and are common and often unrecognized in the general health sector, child welfare, and criminal justice settings, among others. Basic information about mental health is thus important to all social workers. Information about classification systems and major categories of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and substance abuse disorders, is presented. The service system for mental disorders is badly underdeveloped, and most people who need treatment do not receive it. There is an increasing body of evidence demonstrating effective treatments, and policy is moving toward requiring that treatments offered be evidence based. This is a period of a great explosion of knowledge about mental health, and we can expect considerable advances in the coming years.
This entry focuses on services for adults with severe mental illness, specifically the five psychosocial interventions considered evidence-based practices. The emergence of psychiatric rehabilitation, the only professional discipline designed to serve a specified population, is described. The primary historical practice approaches, which are the foundation for psychiatric rehabilitation, are discussed. Each of the five evidence-based practices is then described with the empirical supporting evidence. The emphasis on this population and interventions were selected as social workers are the major providers for this population and frequent implementers and developers of these interventions.
Shaun M. Eack
Mental health research is the study of the causes and correlates of mental health and illness, approaches to improve mental well-being, and the delivery of effective mental health services to those in need. Social workers have been leading researchers in each of these areas of inquiry, and this article provides an overview of the broad field of mental health research, with particular emphasis on the contributions of social work. A biopsychosocial review of research on the correlates of mental health and illness is provided, followed by a synthesis of studies examining pharmacological and psychosocial approaches to improving mental health. Research on mental health services is then presented, with a focus on studies seeking to improve access to quality care and reduce service disparities. Key directions for future mental health research include identifying specific causal predictors of mental illness, improving existing treatments, and disseminating advances to the community.
Edith M. Freeman
This article defines social work methods and then presents a framework with criteria for analyzing methods from a social work perspective. These criteria are organized into the boundary, value, prescriptive, descriptive, therapeutic bond and tasks, and evidence dimensions. The framework is designed to encourage social workers in all functions to analyze how well a particular method meets these interrelated client-centered criteria, and to use them, modify them, or not use them accordingly. The lessons from this analysis are summarized in terms of the profession's continuing role in identifying essential criteria and building knowledge about effective social work methods.
Edward R. Canda and Sherry Warren
This entry provides an introduction to mindfulness as a therapeutic practice applied within social work, including in mental health and health settings. It describes and critiques mindfulness-based practices regarding definitions, history, current practices, best practices research, and ethical issues related to using evidence-based practices, acquiring competence, addressing social justice, and respecting diversity.
Eric F. Wagner
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a collaborative, goal-oriented conversation style designed to strengthen intrinsic motivation for and commitment to change. The spirit of MI includes four elements: partnership, acceptance, compassion, and evocation. MI is often employed as a therapeutic intervention, and it clinical effectiveness is well documented across more than 200 randomized controlled trials. Research has also documented wide variation in MI effectiveness across counselors, studies, and sites within studies.
Narrative therapy was developed by Michael White and David Epston, social workers from Australia and New Zealand respectively, in the late 1980s, spreading to North America in the 1990s. It falls under the rubric of postmodernism, which challenges the idea of absolute and universal truths. Its focus on empowerment, collaboration, and viewing problems in social context fit with social work values. Clients and social workers join together to deconstruct and reconstruct problem saturated stories through externalizing problems and searching for unique outcomes. Although empirical outcome data are limited, many social workers find the concepts useful.
J. Christopher Hall
A history and description of narrative therapy is provided including empirical research, theoretical underpinnings, and the clinical process of the practice. Narrative is a postmodern, person-centered practice that promotes change through the exploration of narrative. A narrative is a series of events, linked in sequence, through time, according to a specific plot. In this approach identity is understood to be a narrative, a story of self, and narrative techniques involve exploring the meanings attributed to life events, deconstructing, and reconstructing the meaning of those events in ways that are of benefit to the client. Narrative practice is a practice of liberation in that problems are viewed as not being located inside people but in the social discourses that clients have been recruited into accepting in their lives and by which they may be self-subjugating. Narrative is a respectful, non-blaming approach, which places people as the experts of their lives, and harnesses their innate strengths, skills, and resiliencies to re-story, or re-author themselves in a more positive and enriching way.
Miriam L. Bearse
This entry provides an overview of historical and current demographics, diversity, and cultural expressions of American Indian and Alaskan native communities in the United States. It discusses challenges related to historical traumas, colonial impacts, and current health risks and suggests some ways in which current theories and practices developed by theorists and communities can be utilized to address those challenges and promote healing. It also summarizes cultural and ethical concerns that practitioners working in and with native communities need to be aware of in order to work effectively and responsibly.
Marie M. Lauria
Oncology social work is a specialization of social work in health care. Its practitioners provide supportive services and programs, patient navigation, education, research, administration, policy development, and advocacy to address the social, psychological, practical, and spiritual concerns of cancer patients, their families, and caregivers from pre-diagnosis through treatment, survivorship, and end of life care or bereavement. The coming decades will present many challenges and opportunities for oncology social workers in helping patients, families, and caregivers overcome barriers to quality of life and care.
Jennifer L. Magnabosco
Throughout history, measuring outcomes has been a goal and priority in the human services. This entry chronicles the history of outcomes measurement in the human services in the United States and discusses present-day outcome measurement activities as well as trends and some of the key areas for outcomes measurement in several human service domains.
Wendy Haight and Priscilla Gibson
Racial disproportionality in out-of-school suspensions (suspensions) is a persistent, multi-level social justice and child well-being issue affecting not only youth, families, and schools but society as a whole. It is a complex, multiple-level social problem that will require an equally complex response. The design of effective remedies will require adequate understanding of the problem as well as the historical and sociocultural contexts in which it emerged and is perpetuated. Progressive educators have offered a number of alternatives to harsh and exclusionary discipline, but research is needed to examine their effectiveness, especially in reducing racial disproportionalities.
Terry Altilio and Maris Pasquale Doran
Pain is a multidimensional, subjective experience that embodies the complex relationship of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Assessment begins with the patient’s report and is enhanced by diagnostic tools, skilled inquiry and observation of behavioral, physical, cognitive and emotional responses. Pain may be acute, chronic, intermittent, or persistent and can be related to a chronic condition or progressive life-threatening illness—all of which may lead to significant psychological, spiritual, functional, and socioeconomic consequences. The undertreatment of pain is well documented and ubiquitous, especially in vulnerable populations, including the elderly, infants and children, and ethnic minorities. Inadequate management of pain has been the focus of national and international research and policy and relates to many variables, including the controversy and concerns about the use of opioids which are classified as controlled substances. This classification creates a unique environment of legislative, regulatory, and law enforcement scrutiny most recently exacerbated by the public health focus on the abuse of prescription medications. Pain is a clinical, ethical, policy, and advocacy issue. Advocating for state of the art pain management is a shared responsibility of professionals whose ethical codes include social justice, beneficence, and commitment to vulnerable populations.
Terry Altilio and Dana Ribeiro
Palliative care is a burgeoning specialty in medicine, nursing, social work and chaplaincy which privileges patient-centered, family-focused care provided across settings. Rather than a singular focus on a disease or an organ of the body, clinicians serve persons with serious illness with an approach that honors the whole person, their priorities, values and goals. In contrast to hospice care, palliative care is accessible at any point along the continuum of illness and is often provided concurrently with disease-modifying or potentially curative therapies as in the treatment of many persons with various cancers. Palliative care clinicians often work in interdisciplinary teams who collaborate with primary teams such as oncology or cardiology to identify and respond to the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of patients and their families. Palliative care programs are extending beyond the confines of acute care settings to venues such as outpatient clinics, home and extended care facilities. Signal events have contributed to the history, evolving role and presence of social work in this specialty. Palliative social work brings values and skills that reflect a whole person in environment perspective that is elegantly congruous with the palliative approach to care.
Nancy Boyd Webb
Play makes children happy, and it also helps them problem-solve, learn, and create new imaginary worlds. Play therapy employs this natural interest to engage and help children who are having emotional difficulties. This article includes a historical overview of the development of different models of play therapy that have evolved since the 1920s and reviews some of the distinctive approaches and trends in the field. Almost all play therapists value the therapeutic relationship as critical in the helping process, but the methods of helping vary. Play therapists come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including social work. All have received education and supervision in this specialized method of practice with children. Certification as a play therapist requires post-master’s degree level training. The article pays special attention to the use of play therapy with children who have experienced crises and trauma, and to specific approaches that address this reality of modern life.
The 921 Earthquake in 1999 and Typhoon Morakot in 2009 both brought catastrophic damage to Taiwan. In the aftermath of these two disasters many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and social workers collaborated with central and local governments to provide post-disaster relief and reconstruction services. Among these, the most important initiative was the launching of a system for providing post-disaster human services, including counseling, education, employment, social welfare, and health care.
Selena T. Rodgers
Trauma literature has seen a paradigm shift from pathology to embracing positive trajectories. Posttraumatic growth (PTG), defined as a positive psychological change resulting from a struggle with traumatic or life-changing events, may occur in a variety of populations and events. This entry, therefore, aims to increase our understanding of PTG. The entry begins with the conceptualization of PTG, followed by a discussion of protective factor associations, measures, and psychometric priorities. Nuanced attention is given to global translations and cultural aspects. The entry then presents debates about the challenges, controversy, and biases, as well as an overview of the empirical literature. The entry concludes with PTG contributions for social-work practice and pedagogy, together with recommendations for future research.