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Article

The Life Model of Social Work Practice: A Macro View  

Alex Gitterman and Carolyn Knight

From its earliest days and roots in the Settlement House and Charity Organization Society movements, the social work profession has debated whether its focus should be on social change in the pursuit of social justice or on treatment in pursuit of social functioning. The Life Model of social work practice integrates these two approaches to improving the lives and functioning of individuals, families, groups, and communities into a coherent whole. Professional skills and strategies of life-modeled social work practice empower clients to address life stressors and overcome traumatic experiences. Life-modeled social workers also develop the skills needed to influence organizations to be more responsive to clients’ needs, mobilize communities to engage in collective action, and advocate for legislative and regulatory policies that promote social justice.

Article

The National Association of Black Social Workers  

Patricia Reid-Merritt

Founded in May 1968, in San Francisco, California, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) is the premiere organization of Black social service and social welfare workers devoted exclusively to the development of professional social workers in the Black community. Committed to a philosophy of self-help and self-determination, the mission of the NABSW is to prepare workers to assume responsibility as advocates of social change and social justice, and to actively engage in the fight for racial equality and social liberation for the African ascendant community. The organization is open to all members of the African diasporic community, regardless of educational achievement, occupational status or political, religious, institutional or social affiliations.

Article

Transitions of Youth in Foster Care  

Joe M. Schriver

This entry focuses on the transition to independent living process required of youth and young adults who are “aging out” of the foster care system. It addresses the multiple risks and challenges faced by young people who are aging out of care and those of young adults who have “aged out.” This entry addresses existing policies and programs intended to assist youth who are transitioning from care. Current research findings about the experience of these youth over time both prior to and after exiting foster care are presented. Finally, the unique risks and challenges faced by as well as existing resources for LGBTQ youth who are in the process of or who have aged out are presented as an exemplar of unique needs and experiences of youth from vulnerable populations. Attention is also given to the strengths and resiliency of many former foster care youth who successfully make the transition from foster care to independent living.

Article

Trauma-Secondary, Vicarious, Compassion Fatigue  

Ruth Gottfried and Brian E. Bride

Over the past three decades, along with the development of the field of traumatology, it has become increasingly clear that the after-effects of trauma exposure extend beyond those experienced by survivors or perpetrators, to include their caregivers. The nomenclature in the field of indirect trauma includes three central terms to describe this experience: vicarious traumatization (VT), secondary traumatic stress (STS), and compassion fatigue (CF). The current encyclopedia entry comprises a comprehensive description of these constructs, with emphasis on the discipline of social work. As VT is based on the theory of constructivist self-development, this theory is addressed as well. Likewise reviewed are relevant theoretical frameworks for both STS and CF, diverse conceptualizations of CF, prevalence rates, risk factors, and microlevel, mezzolevel, and macrolevel recommendations for addressing secondary, vicarious, and CF trauma.

Article

Unions  

Howard Karger

This article deals with the goals and tensions between professionalism and social work unionization. This article addresses obstacles to the unionization of social workers, such as the mixed messages about unionization inherent in the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics, the incipient antiunion sentiment within social work (which partly explains the dearth of social work strikes when compared with teachers’ strikes), the impact of privatized social services on unionization, and the chilling effects of a business union perspective on professional issues that concern social workers. This article calls for a fusion between union and professional concerns.

Article

Virtual Communities of Practice  

Mary Pender Greene

Sociologists and social workers have long been invested in understanding the role of communities in shaping identities and influencing behavior; however, the study of virtual communities is still new despite the dramatic ways in which online social networks have replaced traditional, geographically bound conceptions of community. The present article briefly reviews some of the early theories of community that have influenced practically all scholars studying computer-mediated virtual communities. The focus then shifts toward an analysis of early, important theorists focusing on virtual communities. The article concludes by examining contemporary research and practices utilizing virtual communities in social work, with a particular emphasis on ways to integrate virtual communities into professional practice.