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Article

Trauma  

Nancy J. Smyth

This entry summarizes the current state of knowledge about the nature of trauma and intervention with trauma reactions. It includes the history of traumatology, demographics, theory, research and best practices, controversies, and current trends as well as diversity issues and international and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Article

Stress Effects on Health  

Paula S. Nurius and Charles P. Hoy-Ellis

Evolving understandings of stress have literally transformed how we think about health as contextualized within complex and multilevel transactions between individuals and their environment. We present core concepts of stress through the lens of life-course and life-span perspectives, emphasizing appraisal-based and biobehavioral models of stress response systems. We describe theories of allostatic load, embodiment, epigenetics, weathering processes, and accelerated aging that operationalize mechanisms through which stress affects health and contributes to health disparities. In addition to social determinant and life-span developmental perspectives on stress and health, we emphasize the value of health-promotive factors that can serve to buffer stress effects. Social work has important roles in targeting health-erosive stress from “neurons to neighborhoods”.

Article

Trauma and Stress-Related Disorders  

Kathryn Basham

Traumatic events have permeated our lives throughout history and across the globe, inflicting profound losses on individuals, families, and communities during warfare, armed conflict, natural disasters, and relational violence. Although many survivors of these events harness their resilience and cope without long-term negative mental health effects, others experience a range of physical and mental health conditions, including trauma- and stress-related disorders. With an emphasis placed on adult trauma survivors, the conditions of posttraumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, adjustment disorders, complex trauma, and other stress-related conditions have been explored within a social context. Starting with a historical context, the following topics were addressed. The typologies of trauma were introduced including the definitions of Type I trauma—a single discrete event including natural catastrophes; Type II trauma—chronic and repetitive traumatic physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse; and Type IIII—severe and multiple abusive events with multiple perpetrators. Historical and intergenerational trauma reflect a collective of complex traumatic events throughout generations that resonate in subsequent generations in terms of ungrieved losses and survivor guilt, among other psychosocial issues. Cultural and racial trauma include chronic verbal and/or physical assaults that involve racialized bigotry. Combat trauma involves a combination of deployment stressors that have affected servicemembers in distinct ways with “signature injuries” associated with different wartime conflicts. The next section addresses the current typology of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—V, noting the changes in diagnostic criteria, in particular related to the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health responses to trauma vary a great deal based on a balance of risk and protective factors, often revealing noteworthy resilience and the absence of negative aftereffects. The neurobiological effects of trauma are addressed along with mental health conditions or disorders (e.g., acute stress response, PTSD, complex trauma, and anxiety disorders). Specific phase-oriented and multimodality treatment interventions are reviewed that focus specifically on the mental health conditions presented. These approaches are research-informed, culturally responsive, and theoretically grounded Finally, the responses experienced by clinicians who work with traumatized clients are outlined along with recommendations for ways to minimize the effects of secondary, or vicarious, traumatization. Clinical vignettes based on case composites have been utilized to illustrate central points.

Article

Adolescent Brain Development  

Jessica M. Black

Although it was once widely held that development through toddlerhood was the only significant time of tremendous brain growth, findings from neuroscience have identified adolescence as a second significant period of brain-based changes. Profound modification of brain structure, function, and connectivity, paired with heightened sensitivity to environment, places adolescence both as a heightened period of risk and importantly as a time of tremendous opportunity. These findings are of key relevance for social-work policy and practice, for they speak to the ways in which the adolescent brain both is vulnerable to adverse conditions and remains responsive to positive environmental input such as interventions that support recovery and resilience.

Article

Posttraumatic Growth  

Selena T. Rodgers

Trauma literature has seen a paradigm shift from pathology to embracing positive trajectories. Posttraumatic growth (PTG), defined as a positive psychological change resulting from a struggle with traumatic or life-changing events, may occur in a variety of populations and events. This entry, therefore, aims to increase our understanding of PTG. The entry begins with the conceptualization of PTG, followed by a discussion of protective factor associations, measures, and psychometric priorities. Nuanced attention is given to global translations and cultural aspects. The entry then presents debates about the challenges, controversy, and biases, as well as an overview of the empirical literature. The entry concludes with PTG contributions for social-work practice and pedagogy, together with recommendations for future research.

Article

Disasters  

David F. Gillespie

Disasters are a form of collective stress posing an unavoidable threat to people around the world. Disaster losses result from interactions among the natural, social, and built environments, which are becoming increasingly complex. The risk of disaster and people's susceptibility to damage or harm from disasters is represented with the concept of vulnerability. Data from the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and genocide in Darfur, Sudan, show poor people suffer disproportionately from disasters. Disaster social work intervenes in the social and built environments to reduce vulnerability and prevent or reduce long-term social, health, and mental health problems from disasters.

Article

Individual Practice with Undocumented Immigrants  

Flavio F. Marsiglia, Jaime M. Booth, and Adrienne Baldwin

Undocumented immigrants represent a large and vulnerable population in the United States. When conducting individual practice with undocumented immigrants, social workers must be aware of the laws that impact service provision, the unique psychosocial stressors that are experienced by this population, as well as their strengths that can be built upon. To that end, this chapter provides a snapshot of who undocumented immigrants are, a history of laws governing immigration in the in United States, an overview of the current legal climate, and a discussion of the process of acculturation and psychosocial stressors and strengths. Specifically, this chapter outlines environmental, instrumental, social, interpersonal, and societal sources of stress and strength. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how laws and unique psychosocial stressors impact individual practice with undocumented immigrants and provides suggestions for culturally competent practice.

Article

Mindfulness-Based Therapy  

Edward R. Canda and Sherry Warren

This entry provides an introduction to mindfulness as a therapeutic practice applied within social work, including in mental health and health settings. It describes and critiques mindfulness-based practices regarding definitions, history, current practices, best practices research, and ethical issues related to using evidence-based practices, acquiring competence, addressing social justice, and respecting diversity.

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

Sleep  

Jessica M. Black

Sleep is required for healthy and adaptive neurobehavioral and psychosocial functioning throughout the life course. Sleep is restorative, facilitates memory consolidation, improves immune function, and regulates emotional responses. Sleep deprivation, whether due to sleep disorders or other life conditions and transitions, is a significant risk factor for negative developmental outcomes at all stages in the life course. This article adheres to the biopsychosocial model to review current research describing the benefits of adequate sleep and ways in which insufficient sleep, as determined by developmental needs throughout the life course, can undercut healthy development. Particular attention is paid to social issues of relevance to social workers, with a closing discussion of policy and implications for future work within the field.

Article

Positive Emotion  

Jessica M. Black

Scientific findings from social sciences, neurobiology, endocrinology, and immunology highlight the adaptive benefits of positive emotion and activity to both mental and physical health. Positive activity, such as engagement with music and exercise, can also contribute to favorable health outcomes. This article reviews scientific evidence of the adaptive benefits of positive emotion and activity throughout the life course, with examples drawn from the fetal environment through late adulthood. Specifically, the text weaves together theory and empirical findings from an interdisciplinary literature to describe how positive emotion and activity help to build important cognitive, social, and physical resources throughout the life course.

Article

Neuroscience and Social Work  

Holly Matto

Environmental conditions, interpersonal relationships, and adverse experiences affect developmental outcomes and human functioning. Their affect is perhaps no more clearly visible than when examined through a neuroscientific lens. Key focus is specifically on mind-body-environment transactions which can be beneficial or destructive; the neuroscience of adversity which can explain whether and why hardship will result in toxic stress;s, and the neuroscience behind behavior change which can help tailor strategic interventions.e. The brain’s lifelong capacity to change and grow gives relevance to the hard work of the social work profession, as our interventions can be understood as potential neurobiological turning points across the life course. As will be seen, neuroscience helps to explain many of the challenges social workers confront in their work with clients and client systems. Yet neuroscience can also serve as a guide to address these same challenges by directing targeted interventions. As more and more schools of social work incorporate neuroscience into their curricula and social work scholars write about how this science could inform social work practice, the social work professionwill become a central partner in interdisciplinary coalitions that use neuroscientific discoveries to inform programs and policies to advance optimal human functioning and wellbeing across all system levels.

Article

Mental Health and Older Adults  

Hee Yun Lee, William Hasenbein, and Priscilla Gibson

As the older adult population continues to grow at a rapid rate, with an estimated 2.1 billion older adults in 2050, social welfare researchers are determined to fill the shortage of gerontological social workers and structural lag to best serve the baby boomers who are expected to need different services than previous generations. Mental illness impacts over 20% of older adults in the world and the United States. The major mental health issues in older adults include depression, anxiety, loneliness, and social isolation. Depression is considered one of the most common mental health issues among this population; however, the prevalence could be underestimated due to older adults linking relevant symptoms to other causes, such as old age, instead of as possible depression. Like depression, anxiety symptoms are often mistaken as results of aging. It is also difficult for providers to diagnose anxiety in this population due to anxiety frequently being coupled with other illnesses and the psychological stress that comes with old age. Because the presence of loneliness or social isolation can manifest depression and anxiety symptoms in older adults, it is also difficult to separate these two issues. With the anticipated increase of the older adult population within the next few years, measurement tools have been created to assess depression and anxiety specifically for older adults. In addition to adapting assessment tools, interventions tailored to older adults are essential to ensure treatment coherence, even though medications are the go-to treatment option.

Article

Gay Men: Overview  

James I. Martin

This entry explains who gay men are, how gay identity constructions have evolved since their inception, and how they continue to evolve. It also describes the health and mental health problems that gay men may present to social work practitioners. In addition, it identifies several social policies that are relevant to gay men. The entry argues that a systemic perspective that takes into account the social, political, and cultural influences on gay men is necessary for understanding the problems that such men commonly experience.

Article

Trauma-Informed Care  

Charles Wilson, Donna M. Pence, and Lisa Conradi

The concepts of trauma and trauma-informed care have evolved greatly over the past 30 years. Following the Vietnam War, professional understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) increased. The greater understanding of trauma and its effects on war veterans has extended to informing our comprehension of trauma in the civilian world and with children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect, and other traumatic events. This elevated insight has led to the development of evidence-based models of trauma treatment along with changes in organizational policies and practices designed to facilitate resilience and recovery. This paper highlights the concept of trauma-informed care by providing an overview of trauma and its effects, then providing a comprehensive description of our understanding of trauma-informed care across child- and family-serving systems.

Article

Ecological Framework  

Alex Gitterman, Carel B. Germain, and Carolyn Knight

Ecological concepts and principles enable social workers to keep a simultaneous focus on people and their environments and their reciprocal relationships, not only in direct practice with individuals, families and groups, but also in influencing organizations and communities and in policy practice. Ecological concepts emphasize the reciprocity of person:environment exchanges, in which each shapes and influences the other over time. Ecological concepts are reviewed.

Article

Community Violence and Mental Health  

Selena Marshall and Michele Gordon

Social-ecological inspections into community violence advance our understanding of a single story of violence solely within urban communities, to a more critical discourse of examination. Undoubtedly, the environmental and social determinants of community violence influence variances in community health and dimensions of overall quality of life. Community violence is systemic, with compounded intergenerational effects rooted in racism, discrimination, and marginalization. The reality of daily violence and repeated traumas that many communities experience requires an urgent, multilevel response. Advocacy efforts must be directed at dismantling the structural components within communities that support social disengagement and a culture of normative violence. Community-engagement interventions that are respective of trauma-informed care and community building, have numerous implications for bridging micro- and macro-level social work practices.

Article

Divorce  

Karen Kayser and Jessica K. M. Johnson

This entry presents the demographic trends of divorce and the social changes that have impacted the divorce rate. A cultural perspective of divorce is provided by analyzing divorce in the context of race and gender and across nations. Current explanatory theories of divorce are described. Research on the consequences of divorce on adults and children is presented followed by the practice implications for social workers. Future directions for policy and research are discussed.

Article

EMDR Treatment for Trauma  

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

Human Needs: Work and Employment  

Susan J. Lambert

This entry traces the development of both theory and empirical knowledge on the relationship between work and mental and physical health. Intrinsic job characteristics continue to shape the extent to which workers find meaning in what they do, and theories of stress and social roles continue to guide research. The field now includes investigations of how work affects personal life and theories that recognize the beneficial health effects of well-designed jobs. Social workers are advised that lower-level jobs come up short on all the positive qualities of employment covered in this entry, placing their workers' mental and physical health at risk.