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Larry W. Foster

Bioethics and biomedical ethics are defined. Common bioethical concepts, exemplary moral values, fundamental ethical principles, general ethical theories, and approaches to moral reasoning are reviewed. The scope of topics and issues, the nature of practice situations in bioethics, and social work roles on organizational bodies that monitor and respond to bioethical issues are summarized, as are trends in bioethics. Practice contexts, from beginning to end of life, are highlighted with biopsychosocial facts, ethical questions and issues, and implications for social work—a profession uniquely positioned in giving bioethics a social context.


Christian Social Services  

Diana R. Garland

The term “Christian social services” refers to the involvement of persons and agencies that identify themselves as having a Christian faith orientation that motivates their response to the material and interpersonal needs of persons not met by family or the larger community. This entry describes formalized services provided through organizations, including congregations, as well as agencies and organizations affiliated with congregations.


Congregational Social Work  

Gaynor Yancey and Diana R. Garland

The social work profession has deep roots in religious practices and organizations. Congregations have served as viable contexts for social work practice from the very beginnings of the profession. In this entry, we examine congregational social work as a field of practice through discussion of definitions, historical development, characteristics of congregations, academic preparation of social workers for this field of practice, review of the literature and research, and ways of strengthening the future of social work in this field of practice.


Direct Social Work Practice  

Joseph Walsh

Direct social work practice is the application of social work theory and/or methods to the resolution and prevention of psychosocial problems experienced by individuals, families, and groups. In this article, direct practice is discussed in the context of social work values, empowerment, diversity, and multiculturalism, as well as with attention to client strengths, spirituality, and risk and resilience influences. The challenges of practice evaluation are also considered.


Faith-Based Agencies and Social Work  

Stephanie Clintonia Boddie

This entry presents the history of faith-based services, demonstrating that they are a long-standing component of the U.S. service delivery system. Recently, the reduction in financial support of some government social services and growing skepticism about the effectiveness of government services have led to an expansion in interest and sometimes in financial support of faith-based services. At present, faith-based services are delivered in formal agencies with varying ties to government, and also in many congregations.


Faith-Based Settings  

Stephanie Clintonia Boddie

Faith-based organizations (FBOs) are a long-standing component of the social service landscape. Though they are primarily Christian, they include a range of other religious traditions. They are typically known as sectarian, church-based, congregation-based, and religious (or religious-based) organizations. Since the early 1990s, FBOs have become important government partners in the delivery of social services. This has raised awareness of the various ways faith-based settings, including congregations, serve clients, and the roles social workers play in this environment.


Foundations in Future Directions for Social Work Leadership  

Darlyne Bailey, Kimberly B. Bonner, Katrina M. Uhly, and Jessica S. Wilen

The concept of leadership has evolved from focusing on innate abilities, to learned skills, to understanding that leadership is composed of both skills and abilities. Recently, theorists and practitioners have identified elements of effective leadership within social work organizations. These areas of knowledge, skills, and values encourage social work leaders to recognize their organizations as living systems within an interdependent world and aid them in connecting humanistic intentions with effects. Both acknowledgment and enactment of these leadership competencies are essential for all organizational members to engage in effective dialogue and action. Social workers, regardless of their organizational titles, can learn and hone these qualities in social work training programs and continuing professional development opportunities, as well as through practical field experiences for effective leadership in the field.



Mary Raymer and Dona J. Reese

Hospice social workers are essential members of the interdisciplinary team that provide biopsychosocial and spiritual care to terminally ill patients and their significant others during the last 6 months of life. Hospice philosophy emphasizes symptom control, quality of life, patient self-determination, and death with dignity. Hospice social workers must be skilled in providing evidence-based interventions including direct client services; collaboration with the interdisciplinary team; community outreach; developing culturally competent services; and advocating for policy change on the organizational, local, and national levels.


Human Needs: Religion and Spirituality  

Edward R. Canda

This entry provides a brief introduction to social work's approach to spirituality and religion, focusing on definitions, history, current practices, ethical and human-diversity issues, relevance to clients, practice applications, best-practices research, and controversies. Emphasis is given to a spiritually sensitive and culturally competent approach to social work that honors diverse religious and nonreligious spiritual perspectives of clients and their communities. Although American social work is the focus, some international developments are included. References and websites are listed to facilitate identification of resources for addressing spiritual diversity in practice.


Islam and Social Work  

Altaf Husain

During the 21st century, professional organizations such as the National Association of Social Workers have sanctioned standards for religious competence in social work practice and education. Social work practitioners and students are expected to receive training and education in spirituality. While content on Islam and Muslims is emerging in the professional literature, this is the first article in the Encyclopedia to explore the relatedness between the teachings of the Islamic faith and the social work profession. The Muslim population in the world, and in the United States specifically, is described briefly, along with an overview of intra-faith diversity. Social work practice with Muslims can be enhanced substantially when practitioners are aware of the worldview of Muslims and core Islamic values. In addition, practitioners should be familiar with Islamic teachings within a historical and professional context. Micro and macro level practice strategies and approaches are presented with a special emphasis on social work values and ethics. Lastly, practice principles for religion-sensitive practice with clients who self-identify as Muslims are delineated.



Altaf Husain

Islamophobia is not a new term but it has become commonly used in the United States following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This entry provides an overview of the demographics of the Muslim population in the United States. The historical context in which the use of the term first emerged is then identified, followed by a discussion of the two major approaches to defining Islamophobia. The term connotes either outright anti-Muslim bigotry due to religious intolerance or racism and xenophobia toward people from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia who are Muslim or who have a “Muslim-like” appearance. The history of anti-Muslim bigotry in the United States is traced from before the founding of the nation through present times. Implications are presented for social work with Muslim clients, organizations, and communities who may be impacted by anti-Muslim bigotry.


Jewish Communal Services  

Sheldon R. Gelman, Saul Andron, and David J. Schnall

The form and character of communal services provided under Jewish auspices have been shaped by religious teachings, traditions, and shifting demographics. Righteousness is achieved by fulfilling obligations to those less fortunate or in need. Acts of tzedakah, translated as justice, are the hallmark of Jewish philanthropy. The evolution, role, functions, and organizational structure of services are reflective of these obligations. While changing funding patterns and managed care have blurred the sectarian nature of many communal agencies, these agencies remain as key elements in the voluntary social services network of this country.


Meditation, Mindfulness, and Social Work  

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.


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.


Moral Injury in the Military  

Lataya Hawkins

Moral injury has become a common term used to describe the complex symptoms experienced when there is a violation of one’s moral code. While the term is new, the concept of moral injury has been prevalent in human society since ancient times and conceivably since the beginning of humankind. It can be traced back to the Greco-Roman era when warriors shared intimate stories of their moral challenges on the battlefield. Moral injury has been extensively researched within the military population to describe the soul wound some service members carry because of war. It should not be confused with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the well-known mental health condition associated with veterans, however they can comorbidly exist with overlapping symptoms which therefore often makes it difficult to distinguish. What makes moral injury different from PTSD is that in many occurrences, it is the individual who commits a moral offense (versus mortal danger to self or others), and consequently must deal with aftermath of failing to be the moral (good) person they believed they were. Moral injury is important to understand conceptually and recognize clinically as it has been found to be closely associated with increased risk of suicide in service members and veterans.


Muslim Social Services  

Pamela Aneesah Nadir

Zakat or obligatory charity is a foundation of Muslim social services. Social services with Muslims date back more than 1,400 years to the time of the Prophet Muhammad. His biography reflects his involvement in the care of the poor, widows, and orphans and engagement in social justice for women and minorities. Muslim communities throughout the United States are providing social services for Muslims; however, an institutionalized network of professional social services sensitive to the needs of Muslims is in the developmental stage.


Oral History and Social Work  

Arlene Bowers Andrews

This article reviews basic skills for conducting and using oral histories, summarizes ethical issues, presents examples relevant to social work, and suggests useful resources. For social workers, oral history can be a way to record the history of social change as well as a means of promoting social change. Oral history can honor, inform, raise consciousness, and motivate action. Oral histories are particularly relevant for historically excluded populations and those with oral traditions. Generating the history requires a thorough awareness of the narrator, the story, and the role of the listener as well as skillful interviewing, use of digital technology, and appropriate archiving.


Religious Fundamentalist Families in School Social Work  

Jennifer Yates

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.


Spirituality in Social Work  

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.



Dennis L. Poole

Voluntarism can be interpreted at the levels of values, structure, and ideology. In Western society, voluntarism rests heavily on secular and religious values originating in both Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions. Today the voluntary sector in the United States can be divided into five main types: social support networks, grassroots associations, nonprofit organizations, human service agencies, and private foundations. At the level of ideology, voluntarism can be interpreted as “civil society.”