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Adolescents: Practice Interventions  

David L. Hussey

This chapter summarizes literature and research related to advances in direct practice work with adolescents. Social workers are on the forefront of developing and utilizing a variety of evidence-based practices to address complex client and community needs.


Autism Spectrum Disorder  

Sandy Magaña and Lauren Bishop

Autism spectrum disorder is a heritable, developmental disability that is characterized by challenges with social communication and the presence of restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior. Autism spectrum disorder affects development and quality of life from very early development through old age. Social workers play a number of different roles in supporting and advocating for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. It is important that social workers understand the etiology, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder, how it manifests throughout the lifespan, and challenges faced by families affected by ASD.


Children: Practice Interventions  

Anthony N. Maluccio

Social work has a long tradition of direct practice with children in a range of settings, such as child welfare, child guidance, hospitals, schools, and neighborhood centers. This entry focuses on general principles and strategies for direct social work practice with preadolescents and, to a lesser extent, their families, within an eclectic conceptual framework.


Community Violence  

Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia, Neil B. Guterman, and Maria João Lobo Antunes

Community violence is a widespread concern that is receiving increasing attention by social workers. We consider here the problem of community violence and the present understanding of its rates, risk factors, protective factors, consequences, and some orientations for prevention and intervention. Growing evidence identifies a multifaceted and multisystemic ecological perspective of risk and protective factors linked with community violence exposure and its effects. Current research points to potentially helpful ameliorative and preventive strategies for social workers to consider at the micro and macro levels; however, the main focus of this article is on the macro-level factors and processes.



Karen Kayser and Jessica K. M. Johnson

This entry presents the demographic trends of divorce and the social changes that have impacted the divorce rate. A cultural perspective of divorce is provided by analyzing divorce in the context of race and gender and across nations. Current explanatory theories of divorce are described. Research on the consequences of divorce on adults and children is presented followed by the practice implications for social workers. Future directions for policy and research are discussed.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing  

Tonya Edmond and Karen Lawrence

Since its inception in 1987, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been the subject of lively debate and controversy, rigorous research both nationally and internationally, and is now used by licensed practitioners across six continents as an effective treatment of trauma symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this entry is to provide social work practitioners and researchers with a description of the treatment approach for adults and children, EMDR’s development and theoretical basis, a review of controversial issues, and an overview of the evidence of effectiveness of EMDR across trauma types and populations.


Family: Overview  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Families in almost all societies are viewed as the basic unit for coordinating personal reproduction and the redistribution of goals within the larger societal context of production and exchange. They are vulnerable to the rapidly changing economics of the environments in which they live. Universals regarding families worldwide include a delay in marriage, an increase in divorce rates, a decrease in household size and fertility rates, and nontraditional living arrangements. The most studied aspect of families continues to be family diversity, with greater emphasis on an interdisciplinary framework. There is also a movement toward more effective ways of treating families. Placing families in an historical context, this entry discusses evidence-based family interventions, the latest research on families, family diversity, and implications for social work practice and education.


Family Therapy  

Cynthia Franklin and Laura M. Hopson

Family intervention has become an important tool for social work practitioners. This entry provides a brief history of family intervention and important influences as well as a synopsis of current research. Although these interventions require more research to better understand the populations for whom they are most effective, the evidence supports their usefulness in addressing such issues as aggression, substance use, and depression, among others.


Functional Behavioral Assessment  

Michelle Alvarez, Kimberly Zammitt, Laura Strunk, and Kevin Filter

A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a set of procedures that are used to assess and identify environmental conditions that predict and maintain behavior FBA is a means to determine the purpose of a person’s behavior and the ways in which the behavior is reinforced in the person’s environment. Underlying the functional assessment of behavior is the assumption that the way one behaves is functionally related to aspects of the environment. This relation is reliable, predictable, and observable, and can thus be assessed by an outside observer. The FBA entails the use of a series of methods to determine the variables that contextualize a behavior of interest. Contextual variables can include any aspect of the individual’s environment and are usually separated temporally between those factors that occur before a behavior and those which occur after. The latter are termed consequences and the former are typically referred to as antecedents. Usually, the behaviors under study, especially in applied settings, are called target behaviors. Temporally, these factors are conceptualized in an ABC framework: antecedent, behavior, and consequence. The behavior of interest is the target of a subsequent intervention; the intervention is informed by the FBA and utilizes the understanding of the behavior’s purpose. Antecedents are altered such that target behaviors are no longer prompted or motivated by environmental conditions, new socially acceptable behaviors are taught that can access the desired reinforcer and replace the target behavior, and reinforcers are altered to decrease access when the target behavior occurs and increase access when the replacement behavior occurs. FBAs are frequently used in schools to address problem behaviors. Problem behaviors occur with students in the school setting for many different reasons. Research has determined that the use of FBAs is useful in identifying environmental factors that predict and maintain problem behaviors. The use of FBAs in the school setting has proven to increase positive student outcomes. This article demonstrates how FBAs can be used effectively in different settings.


Group Work with School-Aged Children  

Craig Winston LeCroy and Jenny McCullough Cosgrove

Research has shown groups are an efficient and effective modality for interventions with school-aged children. Psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic groups are frequently used to guide children in areas such as skills training, emotional regulation, violence prevention, and grief. There are key developmental questions to consider when working with children that take into consideration factors such as cognitive development and emotional maturity. Overall, groups can be an efficient and effective intervention in the school setting for use by school social workers.


HIV/AIDS: Children  

Larry D. Icard, Jacqueline J. Lloyd, and Gisoo Barnes

HIV/AIDS has introduced an array of issues and needs for children, youth, and their families. Family-focused interventions have emerged as a viable strategy for researchers and practitioners seeking effective and appropriate responses for the prevention, treatment, and care of children, youth, and families affected by HIV/AIDS. This discussion provides an overview of the epidemiology of HIV infection among children and youth, and highlights common elements and trends in the development, implementation, and testing of family-focused interventions. The discussion concludes with a commentary on areas for future attention.


Home-based Interventions  

Susan F. Allen and Elizabeth M. Tracy

Home visiting and home-based intervention are two strategies used by social workers when working with individuals or families in direct practice. The basic rationale for home-based work is the benefit to social workers’ assessments and understanding of clients, as well as the benefit of more relevant practice with families who are seen in the setting where difficulties are occurring. Home-based interventions have been shown to be effective in improving health and decreasing family discord. When visiting the home, the social worker has the added responsibility of respecting the privacy of families as a guest in their homes.


Interventions for Physically and Sexually Abused Children  

Kathleen Coulborn Faller

Social workers play a vital role in helping physically and sexually abused children. In order to play this role, they need knowledge about the nature of the problem: (1) legal definitions of physical and sexual abuse, (2) its incidence and prevalence, and (3) its signs and symptoms. Social workers have three major roles to play: (1) identifying and reporting child abuse to agencies mandated to intervene; (2) investigating and assessing children and families involved in child abuse; and (3) providing evidence-based interventions, both case management and treatment, to physically and sexually abused children.


Mental Health: Adolescents  

Craig Winston LeCroy

Health care practitioners frequently ignore mental health problems in teens. Adolescents’ daily functioning may be hampered as they mature and are exposed to more dangerous settings. The common behavioral and mental health issues that teenagers face is critical to understanding how to best offer prevention and intervention services. Teenage mental health treatment often focuses on developing functional abilities and identifying models of care that can lessen dysfunctional symptomatology. The latest approaches to treating and preventing teenage mental health issues are presented. The mental health field has placed increased focus on implementing evidence-based treatments. In addition to treatment models, numerous additional elements must be taken into account while developing or implementing treatment.


Mindfulness-Based Therapy  

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.


Out-of-School Suspension of African American Youth and Progressive Education Alternatives  

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.


Pediatric Palliative Care  

Stacy S. Remke

As a relatively new arena of practice, social work in pediatric palliative care (PPC) is evolving and being shaped by social work practitioners, as well as physician leaders, clinicians from other disciplines, and institutions. PPC practice requires a wide array of social work skills, knowledge, and insights to accomplish the many tasks and address the many issues that can arise when caring for children with life-threatening conditions. Family-centered, team-based care is the standard approach. Knowledge of childhood diseases, family systems, health care delivery, mental health assessment and interventions, child development, and bereavement care is required for best practice. The provision of effective care over time, across sites, and in the context of team-based specialty care requires skilled social work intervention.


Play Therapy  

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.


Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents  

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.


Response to Intervention in Schools  

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.