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Article

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.

Article

Client Violence  

Christina E. Newhill

Client violence and workplace safety are relevant issues for all social workers across practice settings. This entry addresses why and how social workers may be targets for a client's violent behavior, and what we know about who is at risk of encountering violence. Understanding violence from a biopsychosocial perspective, identifying risk markers associated with violent behavior, and an introduction to guidelines for conducting a risk assessment will be discussed. The entry concludes by identifying and describing some general strategies for the prevention of client violence.

Article

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.

Article

Financial Social Work  

Margaret S. Sherraden and Jin Huang

There is increasing interest in financial social work as a way to tackle the challenges that economic inequality and financialization pose for financially vulnerable households. Financial social work has deep historical roots and a potentially broad scope for the social work discipline. Two basic concepts underlie financial social work: financial capability and financial well-being. The financial capability framework is the underlying theory. It links structural and clinical practices of financial social work to the growing body of research on financial capability and asset building. Practice content and strategies of financial social work are mapped in detail in three examples: Child development, intimate partner violence, and problem gambling. An overview of the current status of financial social work in social work education and possible future directions concludes the discussion.

Article

Psychoanalysis  

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.

Article

Psychodrama  

Jacob Gershoni

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).

Article

Self-Help Groups and Organizations  

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.

Article

Sexual Assault  

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.

Article

Social Work and Coercion  

Tomi Gomory and Daniel Dunleavy

Social work is perhaps most distinctive for its clear and outspoken commitment toward improving the well-being of society’s vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, while still emphasizing the importance of respecting and defending personal rights and freedoms. Though there is a fundamental necessity for coercion, or its threat, for eliciting civil social behavior in a well-functioning society, it is professionally and ethically imperative that social workers make explicit our rationales for, justifications of, and the evidence used to support or reject coercive practices in our work. Social work’s engagement with coercion inevitably entails the ethical and social policy arguments for and against its use, as shown in a review of the empirical evidence regarding its impact on the professions’ clients, exemplified by three domains: (1) child welfare, (2) mental health, and (3) addictions. Recommendations for future improvements involve balancing the potential for harm against the benefits of coercive actions.

Article

Social Work Practice: Theoretical Base  

Jerry Floersch and Jeffrey Longhofer

A broad examination of the role of theory in social work practice requires answers three related questions: What is theory? What is practice? What is the role of theory in practice? In answering the first question, it is useful to examine the etymology of the word theory, identify its various meanings, and specify which meanings are relevant to a discussion of the role of theory in practice. Additionally, it is useful to understand the philosophical assumptions that inevitably influence the process of theory building and application.

Article

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.

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

Transgender People  

M. J. Gilbert

In this entry, transgender is defined in the context of ethnomethodology and social construction of gender. A history of the role of transgender people in the gay, lesbian, and bisexual rights movement is presented, including tensions concerning the role of transgender people in this movement. Issues regarding social work practice related to transgender issues on the micro, mezzo, macro, and meta levels are discussed.