Philip M. Ouellette and David Wilkerson
The growth in technological advances in recent years has revolutionized the way we teach, learn, and practice social work. Due to increases in educational costs and the need for students to maintain family and work responsibilities, an increasing number of social work programs have turned to today’s advances in technology to deliver their courses and programs. This change has resulted in the creative use of new multimedia tools and online pedagogical strategies to offer distance web-based educational programming. With increases in technology-supported programs, recent research studies have identified a number of areas needing further investigation to ensure that quality distance education programs are developed.
This essay broadly examines theory, practice, and the role of theory in practice. Theory has an abstract and philosophical side and a concrete, empirical, or practice side. Theories need practitioners to activate their power, which is to name the attributes, qualities, limits, and potentials of client and social work realities. No theory is so powerful it knows or explains everything, thus practitioners must use their in vivo perceptual skills to fit the best theory to the level of practice reality that confronts them. This essay broadly examines the role of theory in social work practice. To do so, one must answer three related questions: what is theory?, what is practice?, and, what is the role of theory in practice? In answering the first question, it is useful to examine the etymology of the word theory, identify its various meanings, and specify which meanings are relevant to a discussion of the role of theory in practice, and second, it is useful to understand the philosophical assumptions that inevitably influence the process of theory building and application.
Cynthia Franklin and Constanta Belciug
One of the most promising areas of intervention for Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) is with children, adolescents, and teachers in school settings. SFBT was applied in schools during the beginning of the 1990s and since that time the use of SFBT in schools has grown across disciplines with reports of SFBT interventions and programs implemented in schools in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, South Africa, and in the provinces of Mainland China and Taiwan. The brief and flexible nature of SFBT, and its applicability to work with diverse problems, make SFBT a practical intervention approach for social workers to use in schools. SFBT has been used in schools with student behavioral and emotional issues, academic problems, social skills, and dropout prevention. SFBT addresses the pressing needs of public school students that struggle with poverty, substance use, bullying, and teen pregnancy. It can be applied in group sessions, as well as individual ones, and in teacher consultations. There is also increasing empirical support that validates its use with students and teachers. SFBT has been applied to improve academic achievement, truancy, classroom disruptions, and substance use. The history and development of SFBT in schools, basic tenets of SFBT, the techniques that are used to help people change, and the current research are covered along with the implications for the practice of social work.
Mo Yee Lee
Building on a strengths perspective and using a time-limited approach, solution-focused brief therapy is a treatment model in social work practice that holds a person accountable for solutions rather than responsible for problems. Solution-focused brief therapy deliberately utilizes the language and symbols of “solution and strengths” in treatment and postulates that positive and long-lasting change can occur in a relatively brief period of time by focusing on the solution-building process instead of focusing on the problems. Currently, this practice model has been adopted in diverse social work practice settings with different client populations, which could be partly accounted by the fact that the assumptions and practice orientation of solution-focused brief therapy are consistent with social work values as well as the strengths-based and empowerment-based practice in social work treatment.
David R. Hodge
This entry addresses the topic of spirituality in the social work profession, with an emphasis on the American context. Toward that end, the history of the relationship between the profession and spirituality is traced from the profession’s origins, through secularization, to the present reemergence of spirituality as a legitimate subject in social work discourse. The diverse ways in which spirituality and religion are conceptualized are reviewed along with rationales that are advanced to support the inclusion of spirituality in social work. The topics of spiritual assessment and intervention are discussed and guidelines for using spiritual interventions in practice settings are presented with a brief review of the research on spiritual interventions from an evidenced-based perspective. Some of the organizations that help support and nurture spirituality in social work are delineated. The entry concludes with a summary of proscriptions for advancing spirituality to the next stage in its professional development.
Johnny S. Kim and Calvin L. Streeter
This article presents an overview of school absenteeism, truancy, and school refusal behaviors.
The various definitions of school truancy and absenteeism are described along with prevalence rates and correlates with school absenteeism. The article also discusses interventions and strategies that are empirically demonstrated as effective in helping school professionals increase school attendance. The article concludes by discussing ways to improve school attendance through multilevel interventions.
This article focuses on the long-standing global concern of children who live or work on the street, with developing countries having a larger share of the problem. It reviews the paradigm shift in the way we look at the “street children” phenomenon and the appropriateness of the new terminology, street-connected children. The article maintains that with an increased understanding of different aspects of the life experiences of these children, through research and practice, it is possible to move toward a more precise definition and estimation of the phenomenon. It also elaborates how social work interventions in different parts of the world have demonstrated effective strategies to work with street-connected children and include them in the larger agenda of child protection at the local, national, and global levels.
Johnny S. Kim and Kristin Whitehill Bolton
In social work practice, the strengths perspective has emerged as an alternative to the more common pathology-oriented approach to helping clients. Instead of focusing on clients’ problems and deficits, the strengths perspective centers on clients’ abilities, talents, and resources. The social worker practicing from this approach concentrates wholly on identifying and eliciting the clients’ strengths and assets in assisting them with their problems and goals. This article discusses the historical development of the strengths perspective, practice techniques, current applications, and philosophical distinctiveness.
Supervision of students and practitioners has been important to social work since its earliest evolution as a recognized profession. Central to the process is the idea of one professional with more knowledge, skill, and experience guiding the practice and development of another with less. The four content areas of supervision usually include direct practice, professional impact, job management, and continued learning. There are a number of supervision models, and most emphasize a positive supervisor–supervisee working relationship, a parallel process, and the importance of cultural competency. The emergence of Evidence-Based Practices and Trauma-Informed Practices has also influenced supervision. The contemporary context of social work supervision offers both opportunities and challenges to clinical supervision.
The term survivor has been applied to people who have endured diverse traumatic or life-threatening experiences ranging from sexual abuse to airplane crashes and wars. In the past 25 years, the term has also been applied to those diagnosed with cancer, an illness that once claimed the lives of most who were diagnosed with it, but which many now survive because of treatment advances. This entry addresses the social-work profession’s involvement with cancer survivorship as one example of survivorship. Social workers encounter cancer survivors in every practice arena, including hospitals and palliative-care programs as well as schools, correctional facilities, and mental-health clinics. They conduct research and provide education about the psychosocial impact of cancer and also provide counseling and advocacy. With their focus on strengths and resilience and their range of skills and knowledge about the biopsychosocial impact of life-threatening and traumatic experiences, social workers are uniquely positioned to assist survivors in adjustment to survivorship and in restoring well-being through micro, mezzo, and macro systems interventions.
Julie Cerel and Myfanwy Maple
Suicide is a more prevalent cause of death in many countries than automobile accidents, homicide, and breast cancer. Despite this, the experience of people left behind after a suicide is not well understood. This entry provides a sociohistorical overview of suicide to place suicide death in a relevant cultural context, explores the bereavement experiences of those grieving a loss to suicide, and presents the debate about similarities and differences regarding suicide bereavement in relation to other forms of traumatic death. In addition, this entry examines the role of social workers in working with people bereaved by suicide.
Michael S. Kelly
Task-centered practice is a social work technology designed to help clients and practitioners collaborate on specific, measurable, and achievable goals. It is designed to be brief (typically 8–12 sessions), and can be used with individuals, couples, families, and groups in a wide variety of social work practice contexts. With nearly 40 years of practice and research arguing for its effectiveness, task-centered practice can rightfully claim to be one of social work's original “evidence-based practices,” though the relative paucity of research on its effectiveness in this decade suggests that the approach itself may have become increasingly integrated into other brief social work technologies.
Online therapy is the delivery of supportive and therapeutic services over the Internet. Online therapy offers the advantages of convenience and increased access to services. Service delivery may be problematic due to ethical concerns and legal liability. Limited research supports the efficacy of online therapy for a variety of health and social concerns. Increased use of the Internet by consumers and human service agencies will likely see growing use of online therapy and require training for workers and development of new policies and procedures for online service delivery.
Carol M. Lewis and Shanti Kulkarni
Despite downward trends in the U.S. teen birth rate overall, the associated social and economic costs are still significant. Historically, teen pregnancy prevention policy and program adoption have been influenced by the sociopolitical environment at national, state, and local levels. Recent federal efforts have begun to re-emphasize the importance of developing and supporting evidence-based prevention efforts. Current teen pregnancy prevention approaches are reviewed with attention to the range of program philosophies, components, settings, populations served, and documented effectiveness. Promising directions in pregnancy prevention program development for adolescents are also highlighted.
The ability of medical technology to prolong life over the past century has forced an examination of the experience and care of the dying. Many diseases that once were expected to follow a sloping illness trajectory with predictable deterioration and ultimately death are now more commonly experienced as chronic illnesses. They require more medical and other resources and challenge the family's ability to cope for much longer periods. The knowledge, value, and skill base of social work, and its broad range of practice sites make it uniquely suited to contribute to the movement to improve the care of the dying. The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network were formed in 2007 to advance and give voice to social work's expertise in this area and to promote its development in practice, education, research, and policy.
Michelle S. Ballan and Maria S. Mera
The termination phase of clinical practice is an important component of the therapeutic process. The ending of the therapeutic relationship, whether planned or unplanned, can elicit feelings of loss, separation, and guilt, impacting both the client and the practitioner. The reasons for ending service and preparation for termination can affect the client's gains. Systematic research on the termination process and the maintenance of gains is needed to further determine variables for successful termination.
Gilbert J. Greene
Research and meta-analysis of research on psychotherapy outcome has consistently supported the use of therapy that is planned from the beginning to be brief. In recent years several brief therapy approaches have been developed, often by social workers, and found to be effective. This article provides an overview of the research supporting the use of brief therapy and describes the basics of the major approaches to brief therapy such as the task-centered approach, the psychodynamic approaches, interpersonal therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, emotion-focused therapy, the strength-based approaches, couples and family therapy, and group therapy. It closes with the discussion of several future trends in brief therapy.
M. J. Gilbert
In this entry, transgender is defined in the context of ethnomethodology and social construction of gender. A history of the role of transgender people in the gay, lesbian, and bisexual rights movement is presented, including tensions concerning the role of transgender people in this movement. Issues regarding social work practice related to transgender issues on the micro, mezzo, macro, and meta levels are discussed.
Susan A. Green and Doyle K. Pruitt
Trauma-focused cognitive–behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is a manualized treatment for children 3–17 years old who have posttraumatic stress symptomology as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or series of events. This evidence-based practice allows for practitioner expertise in adapting the order and time spent on each of the treatment components to best meet the individual needs of the child and his or her caretaker. This article provides an overview of the treatment components of TF-CBT, its application across various settings, use with diverse populations, and effectiveness.
Charles Wilson, Donna M. Pence, and Lisa Conradi
The concepts of trauma and trauma-informed care have evolved greatly over the past 30 years. Following the Vietnam War, professional understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased. The greater understanding of trauma and its effects on war veterans has extended to informing our comprehension of trauma in the civilian world and with children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events. This elevated insight has led to the development of evidence-based models of trauma treatment along with changes in organizational policies and practices designed to facilitate resilience and recovery. This paper highlights the concept of trauma-informed care by providing an overview of trauma and its effects, then providing a comprehensive description of our understanding of trauma-informed care across child- and family-serving systems.