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Article

Elizabeth C. Pomeroy and Polly Y. Browning

Eating disorders involve maladaptive eating patterns accompanied by a wide range of physical complications likely to require extensive treatment. In addition, “eating disorders” frequently occur with other mental disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. The earlier these disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the chances are for full recovery” (NIMH, 2011). As of 2013, lifetime prevalence rates for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are 0.9%, 1.5%, and 3.5% among females, and 0.3%, 0.5%, and 2.0% among males respectively (Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007). Early diagnosis is imperative; the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that the mortality rate for anorexia is 0.56% per year, one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, including depression (NIMH, 2006). More recent research (Crow et al., 2009) indicates mortality rates as high as 4.0% for anorexia nervosa, 3.9% for bulimia nervosa and 5.2% for eating disorders not otherwise specified. Current research and treatment options are discussed.

Article

Allen Rubin

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the two most empirically supported treatments for adult populations with noncombat, single-episode posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the other being exposure therapy. This entry describes the unconventional origin, theoretical underpinnings, and treatment protocol of EMDR, including its distinctive use of bilateral stimulation (that is, dual-attention stimulation). Also discussed are possible contraindications, unresolved issues, and the need for more research regarding the effectiveness of EMDR with other populations with PTSD, such as children and individuals with combat PTSD and complex trauma.

Article

Sheila H. Akabas

Employee assistance programs (EAPs), or membership assistance programs when sponsored by unions, are designed to improve worker productivity and motivation by responding to problems that workers experience which interfere with job performance and satisfaction. Now a ubiquitous characteristic of American workplaces, the programs are largely staffed by social workers. This entry discusses their historic development, extent, scope, structure, how they are perceived and utilized by different racial and gender populations, and the dilemmas and challenges facing EAPs as they try to define their role, function, and best practices amid emerging trends in the world of work.

Article

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.

Article

Sandra Owens and Letha A. Chadiha

There is evidence that family caregiving in the United States has been increasing at an unprecedented rate as a result of various societal issues. This entry provides a summary of the scholarly literature regarding elder-caregiving trends, demographics, legislation, challenges, and racial and socioeconomic impacts, as well as the rewards of caregiving. Additionally, the entry provides empirical findings regarding evidence-based interventions associated with family caregiving of older adults.

Article

Joan O. Weiss

The recent explosion of genetic and genomic knowledge that was a product of the Human Genome Project has extraordinary implications for social workers and their client population. Genetics and genomics are interdisciplinary fields. Their scope reaches beyond the doctor’s office and beyond medical professionals. Social workers must recognize how vital their role is in helping clients come to terms with being at risk for a genetic condition or facing the uncertainty of a genetic diagnosis in the family. Understanding the psychosocial and ethical implications of genetic testing is important for all social workers, no matter where they are practicing. Social workers need to know the basics of genetics and genomics and take an active part in protecting their clients from genetic discrimination.

Article

Clayton T. Shorkey and Michael Uebel

The entry defines Gestalt therapy, including brief history, major influences, contributors, and current status of Gestalt therapy in terms of memberships and journals. Key concepts are outlined, and the effectiveness and potential for Gestalt therapy's status as an evidence-based practice is framed in relation to recent overviews of empirical research and to what is needed in the future for further research. While the current literature in social work does not reflect a strong emphasis on Gestalt, we emphasize some of the philosophical and ethical compatibilities between these approaches.

Article

Sara Sanders, Matthew Tvedte, and Mercedes Espinal-Lujan

This article summarizes the history of grief theory and provides an overview of major theoretical frameworks for understanding grief and grief work. Specific types of losses are defined and described, including the newer concept of community grief and loss. Interventions for individuals, groups, and communities are outlined, followed by a discussion of the role of social workers in addressing grief and loss.

Article

Colleen Galambos

This entry provides an overview of the state of health care in the United States. Service delivery problems such as access and affordability issues are examined, and health care disparities and the populations affected are identified. A discussion of two primary government-sponsored health care programs—Title XVIII (Medicare) and Title XIX (Medicaid), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act—are reviewed along with various health care programs and major existing service delivery systems. Ethical conflicts in providing health care, and new directions and challenges are discussed, along with future roles for social workers.

Article

Social work in health care emerged with immigration and urbanization associated with industrialization, and the resultant shift from physician visits to the patient's home and workplace to hospital-centered care. This change is alleged to have resulted in a loss of the doctor's perspective of the psychosocial influences on physical health. Originally, some nurses were assigned the function of addressing this loss. But eventually, the function became recognized as that of a social worker. From its beginnings in the general hospital setting in the late 1800s, social work in health care, that is, medical social work, has expanded into multiple settings of health care, and the role of the social worker from being a nurse to requiring a Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW) from a university. However, the broad function of social work in health care remains much the same, that is, “to remove the obstacles in the patient's surroundings or in his mental attitude that interfere with successful treatment, thus freeing him to aid in his own recovery” (Cannon, 1923. p 15). Health care social workers are trained to work across the range of “methods,” that is, work with individuals, small groups, and communities (social work “methods” are called “casework”, “group work” and “community organization”). They work to assist the patient, using a broad range of interventions, including, when indicated, speaking on behalf of the client (advocacy), helping clients to assert themselves, to modify undesirable behaviors, to link with needed resources, to face their challenges, to cope with crises, to develop improved understanding of their health-related thought processes and habits, to build needed self confidence to do what is required to help themselves deal with their health problem, to gain insight and support from others who are in a similar situation, to gain strength from humor, or from a supportive environment, and through spiritual experience, and from practicing tasks that are needed to deal with their health-related problems or from joining forces with others in the community to modify it in the interest of improved health status for all, or to gradually restore a sense of stability and normalcy after a traumatic experience. Most important of all, perhaps, is the “helping relationship” between client and social worker, which needs to be one of total understanding and acceptance of the client as a person. A sizable portion of the U.S. population lacks financial access to health care, where health care is regarded as a privilege rather than a right, as it is seen in all other industrial nations (except South Africa). Current trends in the U.S. health care system reflect efforts to control rising health care costs without dealing with the “real problems,” which are: (1) the lack of a single-payer health care system and: (2) the lack of focus on “public health.”

Article

Shirley Otis-Green

Health social work is a subspecialization of social work concerned with a person's adjustment to changes in one's health and the impact this has on that person's social network. Social workers in every setting must be ready to assist individuals and families adjusting to illness and coping with medical crises. This entry provides a brief overview and history of health social work and describes the settings and roles where this work is practiced. Significant challenges and opportunities in clinical care, research, education, and policy are discussed. Standards and guidelines for quality practice are then noted.

Article

Jessica Grogan and Frank C. Richardson

The Humanistic Psychology Movement, which began in 1962 and flourished throughout the 1960s and 1970s, exercised a strong influence over the development of social work assessment and practice. Defined by its distinctive research methodologies, based on the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger and in the consideration of subjective, experiential elements, humanistic psychology contributed to the modern practice of qualitative and survey-oriented research. Its health and growth orientation, antihierarchical emphases, and affirmation of the inherent strengths of human nature also greatly impacted therapeutic practice. Specific therapeutic orientations that arose from the movement include person-centered counseling, existential therapy, Gestalt counseling, transactional analysis, and the strengths perspective.

Article

The possibility of practitioner impairment exists in every profession. Stress related to employment, illness or death of family members, marital or relationship problems, financial problems, midlife crises, personal physical or mental illness, legal problems, substance abuse, and professional education can lead to impairment. This article provides an overview of the nature and extent of impairment in social work, practitioners’ coping strategies, responses to impairment, and rehabilitation options and protocols. Particular attention is paid to the problem of sexual misconduct in social workers’ relationships with clients. The author reviews relevant ethical standards and presents a model assessment and action plan for social workers who encounter an impaired colleague.

Article

The attachment phenomenon is increasingly the focus of many social work interventions. Biologically described, differentiated types of attachment relationships result from qualities of repetitive interpersonal brain-to-brain encounters with caregivers that affect variations in emotional/affective arousal regulation; this research takes place within the field of interpersonal neurobiology. The particular focus of this entry is implicit and explicit manifestations of certain structures and functions of the brain and nervous system critical to the bio-regulation of emotions. In-born emotional circuitry is sculpted by postnatal caregiving, resulting in a pattern of emotion regulation that leads to certain attachment types. Although there is no attachment circuit per se, emotional circuits in the low brain can work together with other parts of the brain to create various types of attachment. Neurobiological influences act on the development of attachment styles during childhood that may persist into adulthood are briefly reviewed. Attachment research and often subtle biological arousal considerations are also mentioned. Over the years since John Bowlby first began to contribute his work on attachment, research has highlighted, more and more, the various biological aspects. These include the profound biological significance of the circular relationship between separation, responses to separation, and resulting attachment templates. The roles in the attaching process of neuroception, mirror neurons, transfer of affect, and long-term potentiation are described. Selected treatment theories, primarily from the social work literature, are examined for their implicit focus on aspects of the neurobiology of attachment relationships.

Article

Sarah E. Bledsoe, Brianna M. Lombardi, Brittney Chesworth, and Samuel Lawrence

This article discusses interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), a psychotherapeutic intervention developed by Gerald Klerman, Myrna Weissman, and colleagues in the 1970s as an outpatient treatment for major depression in adults. Based on the theories of Harry Stack Sullivan and Adolph Meyer, IPT is a manualized, time-limited intervention that addresses the underlying interpersonal antecedents and correlates of psychiatric illness. The goal of IPT as originally developed is to reduce depressive symptoms and improve interpersonal relationships. IPT has been widely tested in adults and adolescents and is an empirically supported treatment for major depression. IPT has been adapted for a variety of psychiatric illnesses and problems of living including perinatal depression, anxiety, and trauma-related disorders. Current evidence detailed below supports the use of IPT across cultures, illnesses, and populations.

Article

Rates of depression increase during adolescence and may put youth at risk for suicidality, future episodes, and impaired functioning in multiple life domains. Increased vulnerability for depression during this stage may occur because it is when the cognitive capacity for personal reflection, abstract reasoning, and formal operational thought develop; depressive styles for attributing events may hence form, along with hopelessness about the future. However, other biological and social influences may also interact with the increased cognitive vulnerability. Latino ethnicity and female gender appear to exert particular influence. Treatment for adolescent depression includes medication (mainly Prozac and Zoloft), cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and family therapy. Medication and psychosocial treatment is also combined, particularly for treatment-resistant depression.

Article

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.

Article

Michelle S. Ballan, Molly Burke Freyer, and Lauren Powledge

Evidence-based interventions for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are explored, and trends and changes in the diagnosis of ASD in the United States are examined. Evidence-based interventions in various settings and modalities are discussed, with detailed descriptions of several effective evidence-based interventions including joint attention training, video modeling, story-based interventions, and activity schedules. The integral role of social workers in the lives of children with ASD in multiple settings, particularly the classroom, is emphasized. Social work must be vigilant to keep pace with the ever-changing field of autism, with its frequent improvements in understanding, diagnosis, and treatment.

Article

Cecilia Ayón, Tanya Nieri, and Maria Gurrola

Latinx immigrants represent a large segment of the immigrant population in the United States. While immigrants tend to be healthier than native-born people, they experience a number of health disparities. Latinx immigrants experience many barriers to accessing health care, including immigration policy barriers related to undocumented or recent permanent resident status, lack of culturally and linguistically responsive services, challenges during the access verification process, discrimination by providers, and external resource constraints (e.g., cost). Many are uninsured or underinsured and experience limited access to care. Existing models to understand health are examined. A social determinants of health framework is used to understand immigrants’ health outcomes. Within this framework immigration is a social determinant of health. Substantial empirical evidence illustrates how the immigration policy context impacts on immigrants’ health through exposure to enforcement activity, threat of detainment and deportation, and actual deportation. Enforcement activity is racialized to effect all Latinxs regardless of status. Other domains including economic insecurity, education, and community and social support are other sources that may disadvantage immigrants and impact on their health. The search for economic opportunity is a primary motivation for Latinxs to migrate to the United States, yet many face economic challenges and live in poverty. Education has significant impact on immigrants across the development spectrum as they experience disparities in access. Social ties are critical to the wellbeing of Latinx, evidence suggests disparities in access to support by status. Immigrants contend with a number of challenges as they integrate into society. Social determinants of health, through multiple domains, affect immigrants’ health.

Article

Amanda Duffy Randall and Donna DeAngelis

Social work regulation protects the public by establishing the qualifications that a professional must possess, by establishing a means of holding professionals accountable, and by having a system for the public to make complaints against allegedly incompetent or unethical practitioners and have them investigated and adjudicated. Certification also exists in various specialty areas of social work practice, as is a function of professional organizations versus governmental regulatory agencies.