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Article

Lesbians: Practice Interventions  

Deana F. Morrow

This entry will provide an overview of psychosocial issues and social work intervention relevant to working with lesbians. Practice issues related to the impact of heterosexism, coming out, lesbian identity development, and lesbian couple and family formation will be discussed. Assessment and intervention methods appropriate for social work practice with lesbians will be addressed.

Article

Life Span: Overview  

Lani V. Jones

This entry provides an overview of the life-span perspective focusing on biological developments and social tasks all of which are embedded in a larger sociocultural context from birth to old age within diverse environments, cultures, and historical eras. This section will also focus on how the life-span perspective succeeds traditional life course models that assume to be universal, sequential, and predictable. The life-span perspective of social work departs from approaches based on traditional models that are narrow and focuses on personal deficits, pointing instead to strengths, continued growth, and environmental resources for individuals, families, groups, and communities. Finally, this entry will discuss how the life-span perspective shows great promise for encompassing theory of human development for the purpose of expanding knowledge, promoting “best practice” service delivery, policy regulation and research to enhance the lives of people with whom social workers come into contact.

Article

Men: Practice Interventions  

Robert Blundo

A consistent theme for the majority of men in the United States remains the code of manhood. Men are expected by society to be stoic in the face of danger and to play out, in all aspects of life, the idea of the rugged individual going it alone, even in the face of a quickly changing world. Whereas social-work theorists and practitioners talk about male aggression, sexuality, intimacy, depression, anxiety, addiction, ageing, and work-related concerns, most men are less likely to view these as problems. If they do enter into counseling or treatment, they are less likely to remain for any length of time. Faced with these issues, practitioners are challenged to find ways of engaging men and forming successful collaboration and meaningful outcomes.

Article

Resilience  

Roberta R. Greene

Building on an ecological perspective, the risk and resilience approach to practice stems from empirically based knowledge of human behavior and contributes to the profession's strengths based philosophy. The approach is suitable for diverse individuals across the life course and applicable to systems of all sizes. As an emerging theory, it is increasingly used to inform intervention models.

Article

Scott, Carl A.  

Dorothy M. Pearson

Carl A. Scott (1928–1986) was assistant professor at the New York University School of Social Work. As a senior consultant on minority groups at the Council on Social Work Education he developed programs directed toward enhancing minority presence in curricula.

Article

Global Gender Inequality  

Melissa B. Littlefield, Denise McLane-Davison, and Halaevalu F. O. Vakalahi

Mechanisms of oppression that serve to subordinate the strengths, knowledge, experiences, and needs of women in families, communities, and societies to those of men are at the root of gender inequality. Grounded in the strengths perspective of social work, the basic premise of the present discussion emphasizes gender equality as opposed to inequality. At the core of gender equality is the value of womanhood and the need to ensure the health and well-being of women and girls. Women’s participation in different societal domains including economic opportunities, political empowerment, educational attainment, health, and well-being are all impacted by their roles. Thus, structural weaknesses are major barriers for reforming efforts on global gender equality. Challenging traditional notions of gender, which is defined as behavioral, cultural, and social characteristics that are linked to womanhood or manhood, is the basis for achieving gender equality by attending to how these characteristics govern the relationship between women and men and the power differences that impact choices and agency to choose. Further, both equality of opportunity and equality of outcome are imperative for achieving gender equality among women and girls. Although progress has been made toward gender equality for many women, lower income women—as well as women who face social exclusion stemming from their caste, disability, location, ethnicity, and sexual orientation––have not experienced improvements in gender equality to the same extent as other women. Broad outcomes of gender equality around the globe include decreased poverty, increased social and economic justice, and better well-being and empowerment among men and women. Gender equality is a smart tool for economic development because it can remove barriers to access and enhance productivity gains in a competitive world.

Article

Human Needs: Family  

Ruth Paris and Ellen R. DeVoe

In this entry we address the primary purpose of family in supporting the growth and development of individual members throughout the life course. Life cycle and attachment theories inform our understanding of how families function. Changing family patterns are addressed in terms of the variety of family forms, the multiplicity of needs as economies shift and life expectancy lengthens, family coping and adaptation to normative transitions and unexpected crises, and the influence of cultural and racial diversity. We conclude with brief comments on the issues for contemporary families and needs for the social work profession.

Article

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.

Article

Civil Rights  

Tanya Smith Brice, Denise McLane-Davison, and Tyler A. Brice

Civil rights is the protection of citizens from infringement by governmental entities and the extension of basic rights. Civil rights are based on citizenship status. The 14th Amendment establishes U.S. citizenship that has been extended throughout history to different groups. Civil rights legislation is grounded in this question of citizenship. As social workers, it is important that we understand this relationship and advocate to continue broadening the constitutional promise of “equal protection under the laws” to all who reside within the United States.

Article

Alaska Natives  

Sarah (Hicks) Kastelic

Alaska Natives represent less than 1% of the U.S. population but reside in more than 229 Native villages and account for 40% of federally recognized tribes. Most Alaska Native communities shared common Euro-American contact experiences: exposure to western religions, education, and disease. Historical trauma contributes to many of the social welfare problems Natives experience today: low educational attainment, unemployment, inadequate health care, substance abuse, and violence. Service delivery mechanisms, lack of cultural appropriateness, and isolation compound these pressing issues. Locally delivered social welfare services that take into account traditional Native worldviews, values, languages, and intergenerational relationships are effective in addressing many of these issues.

Article

Ally Model of Social Justice in Social Work  

Priscilla Gibson

The ally model of social justice is a philosophical approach that is congruent with social work’s values and emphasis on social justice and human rights. Using concepts from multiple identities and social justice, it directs those with privilege to act on behalf of those without privilege who belong to a different social group. It is developmental in nature and contains an extensive list of specific ally characteristics that inform social workers at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, and system levels. Despites its limitations, the ally model of social justice is instructive for all social workers regardless of setting as they continue the profession’s mission to eliminate social injustice.

Article

Health Disparities and Inequities  

Sandra Wexler and Valire Carr Copeland

Despite technological advances and changes in healthcare delivery, some groups in the United States continue to have better health-related outcomes than others. This article discusses health disparities and inequities—differences in health status and healthcare utilization that are influenced by complex social, structural, economic, and cultural factors. It begins by exploring the “problem” with health disparities—what makes them problematic and for whom they are problematic. Factors contributing to health inequities, commonly referred to as social determinants, are then reviewed. Finally, the article considers early 21st-century policy and programmatic responses as well as future directions, including social workers’ role as macro practitioners.

Article

Family Services  

Katharine Briar-Lawson and Toni Naccarato

This overview of family services addresses some of the demographic trends and diversity in U.S. families. Inclusionary and exclusionary dynamics are cited, including the ways that income and race may insidiously determine discriminatory practices and differential outcomes. An array of family services are presented. They build on the evidence-based reviews related to the Family First Prevention Services Act. Key programs cited are Functional Family Therapy, Multisystemic Therapy, Brief Strategic Family Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Nurse–Family Partnership, Healthy Families America, Parent–Child Interaction Therapy, Parents as Teachers, and Homebuilders and Kinship care. Questions are raised about the need for a family support agenda in the United States that addresses diverse intergenerational families, ensuring their capacity to deliver core services to their members and provide equitable and basic guarantees.

Article

Disability  

Dawn Apgar

Characteristics associated with contemporary definitions of disabilities have existed in the human population from earliest recorded history. However, societal views on disability and those who have them have varied greatly over time. Disability has been viewed as a blessing from deity or the deities, a punishment for sin, or a medical condition. Social workers have worked with people with disabilities from the inception of the profession and have critical roles in the prevention and treatment of disabilities. Practice is driven by the promotion of the core values of the profession, including the dignity and worth of all people. Social workers recognize that variability in physical and cognitive abilities should not compromise access to opportunities and human rights. Social and political action focused on people with disabilities aim to promote inclusion, foster self-determination, and fight discrimination. Despite increasing services and policies to promote the well-being of people with disabilities, significant income, employment, housing, and quality of life issues still exist for those with disabilities. Macro social work practice is greatly needed to ensure that laws, organizations, and policies do not marginalize or oppress based on varying physical and/or intellectual abilities. Social work’s focus on policy and community development is well suited for reforming existing structures that prevent people with disabilities from achieving full integration within schools, work settings, and community living. Macro social work methods are needed to ensure that quality supports are provided to those with disabilities, to maximize their well-being and participation in all aspects of society.

Article

Social Work Education: Multiculturalism  

Ann Rosegrant Alvarez

Despite many debates about the meaning and implications of multiculturalism, it remains an important concept within social work and other professional and academic disciplines. The basic idea of multiculturalism in social work education is that social work students need to learn to work effectively with people from many different cultures, and that this will have a positive impact on their social work practice and on outcomes for those with whom they work. It has been linked to issues of power, oppression, and social change. Future directions include focus on intersectionality and continued development of the implementation and implications of multiculturalism within social work education.

Article

Ewalt, Patricia Alice Littlefield  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Patricia Alice Littlefield Ewalt (1934–2022) was a strategic, organized, and brilliant social work administrator. She served the profession of social work as a planner, administrator, organizer, and educator. Her research and scholarship provided a collective vision of multiculturalism in social work practice and education. Within the profession and her administration, Ewalt advocated for inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and belonging.

Article

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.

Article

Cultural Competence  

Terry L. Cross

Cultural competence emerged as a concept in the 1980s; took form as a set of organizational, educational, advocacy, policy, and practice constructs in the 1990s; and has since matured into a broad rubric that addresses social justice and service delivery quality, equity, access, and efficacy for people and groups of diverse backgrounds. Cultural competence, sometimes referred to as cultural competency, ethnic competence, cross-cultural competence, or multicultural competence, has become an essential element of social work at every level of the field, from direct practice to social policy. The history, literature, policy developments, controversies, and implications of cultural competence are discussed. The evolution of cultural competence and its role in social work is examined and summarized in this entry.

Article

Oppression  

Betty Garcia, Dorothy Van Soest, and Dheeshana Jayasundara

A firm grasp of the nature of oppression, with its dynamics of power and systemic character, is required so that social workers can avoid unintended collusion with pervasive oppressive systems in order to be successful in promoting social and economic justice. Recognizing that macrolevel forces have microlevel implications and addressing those in the social work relationship comprise an essential part of social work practice. A key aspect of this learning is recognition of the institutionalization of privilege and oppression, which results in exclusionary and marginalizing interactions and practices being viewed as normative. Oppression is a model that provides a unique lens that links what could be taken as solely personal as, instead, “shared problems requiring social solutions.” The following discusses the concept of oppression, its dynamics and common elements, and anti-oppression practice that can expose and dismantle oppressive relationships and systemic power arrangements.

Article

Hendricks, Carmen Ortiz  

Sadye L. M. Logan

Carmen Ortiz Hendricks (1947–2016) was Professor and first Latina Dean of Social Work in New York City at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work. She was a social work pioneer advocating for and developing paths for culturally responsive social work in the Latina community.