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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.
Ellen Gates Starr (1859–1940) was a social reformer who, with Jane Addams, co-founded Hull-House to provide women with a new avenue for living independently. The condition of the poor population led her to become active in the labor movement.
Sandra Edmonds Crewe and Julie Guyot-Diangone
This article provides an overview of the phenomenon of labeling and stigma. Research studies are used to illuminate the many ways devalued or discredited identities negatively affect the health and well-being of stigmatized groups and additionally burden the socially and economically marginalized. In addition to conveying an understanding of the social process by which a stigma is developed and the role that culture plays in defining and determining any given stigma, this article offers ways in which social work professionals may counter stigma through education/awareness campaigns and in routine client interactions. Anti-stigma work is presented from social justice and ethical perspectives. Stigma as a social construct is discussed, along with its link to discrimination and prejudice. The article helps to unpack the meaning of stigma, including descriptions of the various forms, levels, and dimensions it may take, affecting all spheres of life, including the social, psychological, spiritual, and physical.
John A. Yankey and Vera Vogelsang-Coombs
Strategic planning is a key management process in nonprofit organizations and a collaborative methodology for addressing complex community needs. This entry presents an overview of strategic planning, with dual emphasis on the content and format of the final product. It highlights phases and steps in the planning process, along with trends and directions for such planning in the future. Despite its increased use, however, confusion and skepticism about the value of strategic planning remain. Therefore, we describe specific approaches that have yielded good results.
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.
J. Christopher Hall, Robert Blundo, and Kristin W. Bolton
The strengths perspective represents a paradigmatic shift away from problem-focused approaches to social work practice. A strengths-based approach provides a helping foundation for clients and emphasizes personal growth, empowerment, and coping skills based on ideals that focus on strengths instead of pathology. The strengths perspective can be integrated into social work practice through strengths-based frameworks. Of particular interest is the infusion of a strengths-based framework into case management. Common themes of exploration for strengths-based casework include: case manager role, client-case manager relationship, client perceptions, and outcomes of strengths-based case management.
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.
Paula S. Nurius and Charles P. Hoy-Ellis
Evolving understandings of stress have literally transformed how we think about health as contextualized within complex and multilevel transactions between individuals and their environment. We present core concepts of stress through the lens of life-course and life-span perspectives, emphasizing appraisal-based and biobehavioral models of stress response systems. We describe theories of allostatic load, embodiment, epigenetics, weathering processes, and accelerated aging that operationalize mechanisms through which stress affects health and contributes to health disparities. In addition to social determinant and life-span developmental perspectives on stress and health, we emphasize the value of health-promotive factors that can serve to buffer stress effects. Social work has important roles in targeting health-erosive stress from “neurons to neighborhoods”.
To help their clients and to further the goal of “challeng[ing] social injustice,” all social work practitioners must be aware of students’ rights. Though school law is largely regulated by states, there are some overarching federal laws and Constitutional provisions that provide rights to all students. This article includes a review of the major federal laws and cases that affect students’ rights.
Every year, more people in the world die from suicide than from homicide and wars combined. Efforts to reduce suicide have made several advances. Research has identified numerous suicide risk factors, and, though small in number, effective prevention and intervention strategies have been identified. Social workers are likely to encounter suicidal clients in their work, requiring suicide assessment and intervention skills.
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.
Shawn A. Cassiman and Sandy Magaña
This entry provides an overview of the federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, including a discussion of who is eligible for benefits, benefit levels, and program administration. The history of the program is provided and the impact of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act on SSI is discussed. Current policy challenges and policy relevance to social work practitioners and educators are considered.
Surveys have always been a popular social work research method. They are particularly applicable for portraying population characteristics on the basis of a sample. Two key methodological issues influencing the value of any survey are the representativeness of its respondents and the reliability and validity of its measures. Surveys can be administered by mail, online, or in face-to-face or telephone interviews. Each modality has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the research, the nature of the research question, and feasibility considerations.
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.
Dorothy N. Gamble
This entry describes how the viability of long-term human social systems is inextricably linked to human behavior, environmental resources, the health of the biosphere, and human relationships with all living species. New ways of thinking and acting in our engagement with the biosphere are explored, with attention to new ways of measuring well-being to understand the global relationships among human settlements, food security, human population growth, and especially alternative economic efforts based on prosperity rather than on growth. The challenge of social work is to engage in socioecological activities that will prevent and slow additional damage to the biosphere while at the same time helping human populations to develop the cultural adaptation and resilience required to confront increasing weather disasters; displacement resulting from rising seas; drought conditions that severely affect food supplies; the loss of biodiversity, soils, forests, fisheries, and clean air; and other challenges to human social organizations.
Helen Suzman (1917–2009) was internationally renowned for many years as the sole white woman representative in the South African Parliament to speak out against apartheid measures. As a Member of the Parliament (1953–1989), she spoke out against the unfair and discriminatory policies of the government, for instance, opposing capital punishment, prison conditions, gender discrimination against Black women, and policy of apartheid.
Larraine M. Edwards
Mary Elizabeth Switzer (1900–1971) was an administrator who became head of the Social and Rehabilitation Service in 1967. She influenced the evolution and expansion of federally funded services to those in need and improved services to people with disabilities.
Julia H. Littell
Systematic reviews summarize a body of empirical evidence to address important questions for practice and social policy. Widely used to compile evidence about intervention effects in the helping professions, systematic reviews can also be used to assess rates, trends, associations, and variations on many topics. Credible reviews are based on the science of research synthesis, which provides the theoretical and empirical foundations that undergird efforts to minimize bias and error at each step in the review process to ensure that systematic reviews are comprehensive and their conclusions are accurate. Methods for the synthesis of quantitative studies are well developed. Meta-analysis, a set of statistical procedures, is often used in quantitative reviews, but meta-analysis is only one part of the systematic review process; other steps are needed to limit bias and error. Methods for systematic reviews of qualitative research are under development, as are strategies to combine quantitative and qualitative data in reviews.