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Article

Child welfare services in the United States evolved from voluntary “child saving” efforts in the 19th century into a system of largely government-funded interventions aimed at identifying and protecting children from maltreatment, preserving the integrity of families that come to the attention of child welfare authorities, and finding permanent homes for children who cannot safely remain with their families. Since the 1970s, the federal government has played an increasing role in funding and creating the policy framework for child welfare practice. That child welfare services are disproportionately directed toward members of ethnic and racial minorities has been an enduring concern.

Article

Ramona W. Denby and Allison Bowmer

The notion of culture, while vast, is often conceptualized through an examination of gender, race, and ethnicity; class and economics; religion; sexual orientation; and even age. Social work assessments and related interventions rest on a fundamental understanding of a client’s history, environment, and current conditions. This article provides an examination of how particular sociocultural influences and identity development shape behavior and how social work practitioners—whether at the micro, mezzo, or macro level—use this understanding to effect change in individuals or environments.

Article

Dorie Gilbert and Katarzyna Olcoń

Research indicates that practitioners’ cultural biases are a barrier to effective cross-cultural assessment; thus, social work practitioners must demonstrate the ability to appraise a client’s cultural context in assessing and treating mental health concerns. The Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) provides practitioners with a standardized cultural assessment method for use in mental health practice. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the CFI with a focus on its four domains: (a) cultural definition of the problem; (b) cultural perception of cause, context, and support; (c) cultural factors affecting self-coping and past help-seeking; and (d) cultural factors affecting current help-seeking. Conceptualizations of mental health and mental illness vary across cultural subgroups, and the nation’s changing demographics underscore the need to give particular attention to how the CFI can be useful for improving cross-cultural assessment with historically excluded or marginalized racial and ethnic groups. The CFI is an important step towards culturally grounded assessments; however, it has several conceptualization and implementation limitations, including its narrow focus on individual-level cultural explanations of distress while the effects of social inequities remain masked. The article concludes with additional considerations for cross-cultural assessment and implications for social work education and practice.

Article

Concepcion Barrio, Mercedes Hernandez, Paula Helu Fernandez, and Judith A. DeBonis

Social workers in health and mental health and across public and private health sectors are expected to be knowledgeable of comprehensive approaches to effectively serve individuals dealing with psychotic disorders, including family members involved in their care. Effective services require expertise in assessment, diagnostics, treatment planning, and coordination of community support services. This article provides a knowledge base for social work practitioners working with clients challenged by the experience and consequences of serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. We begin by reviewing the public health significance of these disorders, clinical phenomenology and its historical context, and symptoms and classification. We then discuss the family and cultural context, evidence-based treatments, and several social and clinical issues that social work practitioners should be aware of when working with this client population.

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.