Social work is distinguishable from other disciplines by its emphasis on producing change that affects clients and their environment. This emphasis has influenced the nature of social work practice research, which calls for attention to the development, design, and implementation of change strategies through the use of the science of intervention research. This paper provides a definition of intervention research, highlights its culturally congruent elements, and addresses its implications for social work evidence-based practice and practice guidelines.
Cynthia Franklin and Melissa Reeder
Adolescent parenthood continues to be a public health concern despite the fact that the numbers of adolescent births have been declining over the past decade. The United States ranks number one in adolescent pregnancies out of all the industrialized nations. While reducing the number of adolescent pregnancies is important, supporting those who do become young parents is equally vital and an important concern for social workers. This chapter covers the demographics of adolescent parents as well as the risk and protective factors associated with adolescent pregnancy and parenthood. In addition, it reviews the current state of program development and the need for additional research and evaluation.
Elizabeth Ann Danto
Psychoanalysis is both a theory and a therapy, largely based on the work of Sigmund Freud but widely expanded over the last hundred years. Four core models (ego psychology, drive theory, object relations, and self-psychology) evolved from Freud's theories of the mind. While each model takes a different approach to treatment, all result in the systematic exploration of unconscious and seemingly irrational aspects of human behavior. Feminist, postmodernist, and intersectionality theories have added new dimensions to psychoanalytic exploration of individual and family, human sexuality, groups, work and organizational systems, and social struggles. New research in neuroscience is confirming the biological basis for unconscious emotional processing within the human brain.
Psychodrama is an action oriented method that shares many of social work core values, for example nonjudgmental acceptance of others, viewing individuals in their context, a deep belief in humans' creative potential, and empowering people who are disenfranchised, stigmatized, or oppressed. The creator of this method was also a pioneer in family therapy, group therapy, and community organization. Psychodrama may be applied to other theoretical approaches in dealing with psychological or social problems, and has been applied to many population groups and in dealing with many issues (for example, trauma, addiction, crisis intervention).
Psychoeducation, which describes a range of direct interventions that are focused on participants' education, support, and coping skills development, has become extremely popular in social work practice since the 1970s. Such programs are delivered in many service settings and with many types of client populations. This article includes a definition of the term, a review of its origins in social work practice, its range of applications, the practice theories, and professional values from which it draws, and a review of the research evidence for its utility.
Zebulon C. Taintor
Psychosocial (or psychiatric) rehabilitation is a mixture of skills and support for persons severely impaired by mental illness. The population in need is vast. Practitioners marshal support at the level needed while helping a person develop skills that will gradually reduce the need for support. Financial support is gained by offsetting treatment and other supports such as institutional care. Social workers are especially well qualified for this work on multidisciplinary treatment teams. Recovery is key to most agency mission statements.
Eda G. Goldstein
The psychosocial framework is a distinctive practice model that originated early in the profession's history. Its goals are to restore, maintain, and enhance the personal and social functioning of individuals. Drawing on psychological and social theories, it has evolved considerably from its Freudian and ego psychological underpinnings. It has incorporated new knowledge on gender and diversity. Assessment, the client–worker relationship, respect for diversity, and an appreciation of client strengths are fundamental to the psychosocial approach. It uses both individual and environmental interventions and can be applied to a broad range of client populations. There is empirical evidence for the utility of psychosocial intervention but more research on the psychosocial framework is needed.
Kia J. Bentley and Christopher P. Kogut
To advance the discussion of the interface between psychopharmacology and contemporary social work practice, we present a brief primer on the different types of medications used in psychiatry and our current understanding of how they work. We also discuss how decisions are made about psychiatric medications in the real world to treat some of the more common mental illnesses. Along the way, we will also present some of the recent research in psychopharmacology of particular interest to social workers and the clients they serve, as well as some of the future directions we can expect in the years to come. From that foundation, we review major activities of social workers in psychiatric medication, address some of the key controversies centering on issues of access, the role of drug companies, and especially medication for children. We conclude with brief reflections on what is “best practice” and notions of the future of interdisciplinary practice in health, mental health, and beyond.
Enola Proctor and J. Curtis McMillen
Assessing and improving the quality of social services is one of the most pressing concerns for social work practice and research. Practice in nearly every setting is affected by stakeholder expectations that agencies monitor and improve quality. This entry addresses the meaning of the phrase “quality of care” with respect to social work services, considers this topic in relation to quality improvement, quality assurance, and evaluation of services, and points to the research that is needed in order to assess and improve quality.
Steven L. McMurtry, Susan J. Rose, and Lisa K. Berger
Accurate measurement is essential for effective social work practice, but doing it well can be difficult. One solution is to use rapid assessment instruments (RAIs), which are brief scales that typically require less than 15 minutes to complete. Some are administered by practitioners, but most are self-administered on paper or electronically. RAIs are available for screening, initial assessment, monitoring of service progress, and outcome evaluation. Some require author permission, others are sold commercially, and many more are free and in the public domain. Selection of an RAI should be based first on its psychometric strength, including content, concurrent, and known-groups validity, as well as on types of reliability such as internal consistency, but practical criteria such as readability are also important. And when used in practice settings, RAIs should be part of a well-rounded measurement plan that also includes behavioral observations, client logs, unobtrusive measures, and other approaches.
Jill Doner Kagle
Social workers keep records to demonstrate accountability to their agencies, clients, communities, and profession. They also record to enhance practice and support a variety of administrative functions. This entry describes the history of recordkeeping in social work, and identifies important contributions to its development. The author discusses current issues related to computerization, wide access to sensitive personal information in records, and privacy legislation. The entry also outlines the characteristics of good records, those that meet the complex demands of contemporary practice.
This article describes issues related to culturally competent social work practice with religiously fundamentalist families in public school settings. It addresses the history of religious fundamentalist identities, the complexity inherent in such identities, and the nature of fundamentalism. A review of issues related to culturally competent practice in educational settings is offered. Recommendations informed by spiritually sensitive and strength-based approaches are discussed. Challenges to working effectively with religiously conservative and fundamentalist families in educational settings are also explored. Emphasis is placed upon the practitioner’s role in developing spirituality-sensitive therapeutic relationships by improving religious literacy, developing enhanced self-awareness, and approaching clients from a perspective of cultural humility and a lens of intersectionality.
Michael S. Kelly
This entry will focus on a model of intervention (the three-tier model often known as “Response to Intervention,” or RTI) that has become infused into school districts around the United States and is likely going to continue to impact the practice of school social workers and community-based social workers who provide services in schools. Since the 1990s, the literature around improving the academic achievement and behavioral functioning of school-age children has gradually focused more on RTI as a way to implement effective early intervention strategies for youth to prevent school failure. The principles of RTI have also come to be associated with a related but distinct model of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS, sometimes also called Positive Behavior Supports/PBIS or School-Wide Positive Behavior Supports/SWPBIS) and this approach has also been promoted as an effective framework to improve an entire student body’s academic and social, emotional, or behavioral functioning. This entry will discuss the history of RTI (and PBIS), the policy context for the approaches’ growing adoption in American K–12 schools, and the (still small but growing) evidence base for RTI and PBIS as approaches for schools to enhance student academic and behavioral outcomes. Additionally, the specific role of school social workers (and community-based social workers working in schools) will be highlighted, specifically how the growing influence of RTI and PBIS offers new opportunities for social workers to serve schools, students, and families.
Katherine van Wormer
This article defines restorative justice and describes the models most relevant to social work. These include victim–offender conferencing (sometimes incorrectly referred to as mediation), family group conferencing, healing circles, and community reparations.
Restorative justice is an umbrella term for a victim-oriented method of righting a wrong, promoting healing following a conflict, including war, and/or providing a safety in the aftermath of violence (for example, child abuse). Such restorative strategies have their roots in the rituals of indigenous populations and modern-day religious practices, as stated by restorative justice pioneer, Howard Zehr. Restorative justice, as defined by the Social Work Dictionary is “a non-adversarial approach usually monitored by a trained professional who seeks to offer justice to the individual victim, the offender, and the community, all of whom have been harmed by a crime or other form of wrongdoing.” This emerging model for resolving conflict and/or righting a wrong focuses on repairing the harm done by an offense by involving the victim, the offender, and the community.
This article identifies resources on restorative justice theories and strategies with special relevance to social workers and to mental health professionals, as well as school and correctional counselors. At the micro level, restorative justice is played out as conferencing between victims and offenders—for example, by way of family group conferences and healing circles. At the macro or societal level, restorative justice takes the form of reparations or truth commissions—to compensate for the harm that has been done, for example, when mass persecutions of people have taken place. The magnitude of the situations covered under the rubric of restorative justice ranges from interpersonal violence to school bullying to mass kidnappings to full-scale terrorism and warfare.
Restorative justice refers not only to a number of strategies for resolving conflicts peacefully but also to a political campaign of sorts to advocate for the rights of victims and for compassionate treatment of offenders. Instead of incarceration, for example, the option of community service coupled with substance abuse treatment might be favored. From the offender’s standpoint, accountability and truth-telling are stressed, as the offender typically offers to make amends for the harm that was done. From the victim’s standpoint, a key theme is empowerment, through receiving an apology from the wrongdoer and receiving the support of caring participants.
Judith A. Davenport and Joseph Davenport, III
Rural social work, whose history stretches back a century, has been revitalized since the mid-1970s. Definitions, typologies, and characteristics of rurality are provided, which serve as a framework for rural practice, policy, and research concerns. A primary focus is on those concerns differentiating rural from urban social work. Social workers interested in additional information are given basic references, as well as material on the National Rural Social Work Caucus, the annual National Institute on Social Work and Human Services in Rural Areas, the electronic journal, and the online listserv.
This entry reviews the uses of scales and instruments in social work practice, including scales and instruments for diagnosis and evidencing treatment necessity, as methods for monitoring client progress, and as outcomes measures of clinical significance. A resource list for locating scales and instruments is provided.
Steven P. Segal
Self-help groups facilitate mutual assistance. They offer a vehicle for people with a common problem to gain support and recognition, obtain information on, advocate on behalf of, address issues associated with, and take control of the circumstances that bring about, perpetuate, and provide solutions to their shared concern. Self-help groups may be small informal groups, confined to interactive support for their members, or differentiated and structured multiservice agencies. In the latter case, they are recognized in the self-help community as mutual assistance organizations, as distinct from professionally led organizations, when they are directed and staffed by “self-helpers” and when these self-helpers are well represented as board members and have the right to hire and fire professionals in the organization. Self-help groups and organizations empower members through shared example and modeled success. Spread throughout the world they are a major resource to social workers seeking to help their clients to help themselves.
Judy L. Postmus
Sexual assault or rape affects millions of women and men in the United States; however, it is only in the last 30 years that it is being considered a social problem. During this period, many policies at the state and federal levels have attempted to address sexual assault and provide legal remedies for victims. However, sexual assaults are still the most underreported crime in the United States and are accompanied by bias and misinformation that plague our response. Social workers play a crucial role in offering services to survivors and advocating for more education and awareness in our communities and universities.
Joel Fischer and John G. Orme
Single-system designs (SSDs) are a family of user-friendly empirical procedures that can be used to help professionals to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the services they provide to clients and to guide practice. SSDs can be used to evaluate interventions based on any theory or approach. Repeated measurement of the target(s) of intervention is an intrinsic and key element of SSDs. Dozens of SSDs exist, and each has its own strengths and limitations. The most basic and most widely used design is the A-B design. Data from SSDs are analyzed visually, using simple, descriptive or inferential statistics, or using criteria for practical or clinical significance.
Jama Shelton and Maria Rodriguez
Social media are defined as applications and websites that allow users to share content, usually of their own making. Social media users include individuals and organizations across a broad range of social strata. Key social work organizations, such as the National Association of Social Workers and the Association of Social Work Boards, have begun noting the proliferation of social media usage in education and practice and have begun developing guidelines to govern their use. The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, in their Grand Challenges of Social Work initiative, highlighted social media as an important area of growth for research and education. Despite the field’s nascent enthusiasm, practical and ethical concerns persist. This article defines social media; discusses its usage in social work practice, research, and education; and discusses the ethical and practical considerations in each domain.