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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

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

Racial Justice  

Darcey H. Merritt, Rachel D. Ludeke, Krushika Uday Patankar, Muthoni Mahachi, and Morgan Buck

Racial justice remains a hot-button issue in the United States, particularly in the aftermath of several high-profile murders of Black and Brown people due to state-sanctioned violence. There is an increased need to explore how racial injustice remains prevalent intentionally and comprehensively in all aspects of micro, mezzo, and macro social work practice. Racism is pervasive in the social work profession, and it is therefore important to address the ways in which it underpins established human service systems (e.g., public assistance and child welfare).

Article

Dissociative Identity Disorder  

Gregory L. Nooney

Individuals with the diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID) developed a myriad of methods, including the creation of an intricate inner world of alternate identities, or alters, to creatively survive the devastating effects of early childhood trauma and attachment wounds. Unfortunately, a belief in its rarity even by mental health professionals, the perceived difficulty in diagnosing and treating dissociation, and a fear of the unknown have resulted in DID’s being underdiagnosed. The result has been that many with this condition have been ineffectively treated for co-occurring disorders and have been inaccurately perceived as resistive to treatment. Detailed methods of diagnosing DID, specific steps to help stabilize clients with DID, and in-depth trauma-specific protocols are summarized, along with ways to minimize the elevated risks of compassion fatigue and countertransference in working with this population.

Article

Trauma-Focused Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy  

Susan A. Green and Doyle K. Pruitt

Trauma-focused cognitive–behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is a manualized treatment for children 3–17 years old who have posttraumatic stress symptomology as a result of experiencing a traumatic event or series of events. This evidence-based practice allows for practitioner expertise in adapting the order and time spent on each of the treatment components to best meet the individual needs of the child and his or her caretaker. This article provides an overview of the treatment components of TF-CBT, its application across various settings, use with diverse populations, and effectiveness.

Article

Interventions for Physically and Sexually Abused Children  

Kathleen Coulborn Faller

Social workers play a vital role in helping physically and sexually abused children. In order to play this role, they need knowledge about the nature of the problem: (1) legal definitions of physical and sexual abuse, (2) its incidence and prevalence, and (3) its signs and symptoms. Social workers have three major roles to play: (1) identifying and reporting child abuse to agencies mandated to intervene; (2) investigating and assessing children and families involved in child abuse; and (3) providing evidence-based interventions, both case management and treatment, to physically and sexually abused children.

Article

Runaway and Homeless Youths  

Sanna J. Thompson

Runaway and homeless youth may be viewed as subcategories on a continuum of familial disengagement and residential instability. Runaway youth are typically identified as those who leave or are forced from their homes, often returning in a relatively short time. Homeless youth are those with no stable residence, have limited contact with family, and have become affiliated with the culture of homelessness. This entry provides background on specific policies associated with youth who run away or become homeless. Characteristics of these two groups (runaway and homeless youth) are described in terms of high-risk characteristics, such as educational difficulties, substance abuse, victimization, and trauma. Service options to meet the needs of these youth are described and implications for social work practice discussed.

Article

Historical and Intergenerational Trauma  

Laurie A. Walker and Turquoise Skye Devereaux

Historical trauma originated with the social construction of subordinate group statuses through migration, annexation of land, and colonialism. The consequences of creating subordinate group statuses include genocide, segregation, and assimilation. Settler colonialism takes land with militaristic control, labels local inhabitants as deviant and inferior, then violently confines and oppresses the original occupants of the land. Confinement includes relocation, restriction of movement, settlement of lands required for sustenance, as well as confinement in orphanages, boarding schools, and prisons. Historical trauma includes suppression of language, culture, and religion with the threat of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Original inhabitant abuse often results in issues with health, mental health, substance abuse, and generational emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. Culturally safe (engagement that respects identity) and trauma-informed social work practices acknowledge the systemic causes of disparities in groups experiencing marginalization and oppression and focus on healing and addressing systemic causes of disparities.

Article

Attachment Research, Developmental Implications, and Clinical Interventions with Children, Adults, and Couples  

Shoshana Ringel

This review summarizes contributions to attachment theory and research by John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main, and many other researchers. It addresses contributions from the Adult Attachment Interview to the understanding of loss and trauma as well as the intergenerational transmission of attachment patterns from parent to child. The review describes current findings from infant research, and the implications of attachment theory to clinical interventions with children, families, adults, and couples.

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

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

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

Torture  

S. Megan Berthold

Although state-sponsored torture violates human rights and international law, it is a widespread practice worldwide. The effects are profound and extend beyond the targeted individual. This entry will explore the debate surrounding different definitions of torture and examine who is targeted for torture and why, as well as the wide range of effects of torture on individuals, families, and communities. Factors that contribute to the resilience of torture survivors will be identified. The various roles that social workers can play with this population will be outlined and common assessment and intervention approaches utilized by social workers with torture survivors will be discussed.

Article

Play Therapy  

Nancy Boyd Webb

Play makes children happy, and it also helps them problem-solve, learn, and create new imaginary worlds. Play therapy employs this natural interest to engage and help children who are having emotional difficulties. This article includes a historical overview of the development of different models of play therapy that have evolved since the 1920s and reviews some of the distinctive approaches and trends in the field. Almost all play therapists value the therapeutic relationship as critical in the helping process, but the methods of helping vary. Play therapists come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including social work. All have received education and supervision in this specialized method of practice with children. Certification as a play therapist requires post-master’s degree level training. The article pays special attention to the use of play therapy with children who have experienced crises and trauma, and to specific approaches that address this reality of modern life.

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

Responding to Adverse Childhood Experiences Across the Lifespan  

Heather Larkin, Catherine LaBrenz, Stephen Oby, Beth Gerlach, Eunju Lee, Katharine Briar-Lawson, and Lisa Good

The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study, including long-term health implications, is reviewed, followed by an overview of community approaches to addressing ACEs by building resilience in programs and communities. The restorative integral support (RIS) model embodies social work’s person-in-environment perspective and offers a framework to understand and respond to ACEs and their consequences. Social work’s role in addressing ACEs includes the importance of cross-disciplinary, interprofessional, and community-engaged strategies to enact community and system-wide change. Policy and practice implications to foster a culture of health and well-being are emphasized.

Article

Community Resilience  

Cindy Sousa and Tamarah Moss

Community resilience describes the dynamic, ongoing process of coping and recovery in the face of collective stressors and trauma. Social and monetary capital, technological expertise, and strong physical and organizational infrastructure all undergird strong systematic responses to massive hardships. Other factors that underlie community resilience, such as shared philosophies; patterns and cultures of survival and meaning-making; emotional qualities such as optimism and trust; and norms around cooperation and interdependence, are more ethereal. Our world faces continual onslaughts to collective well-being. Thus, notions and practice models around community resilience are increasingly urgent to develop, with implications for macro practice across multiple methods - including community organization, policy practice, and management/administration.

Article

Military Social Work  

Kelli Godfrey and David Albright

Although there are many definitions of military social work, this article primarily focuses on social work by uniformed personnel within the United States military. Social work with military and veteran-connected populations is also done by civilian professionals. The history of military social work in the United States is rooted in the civilian professional social work community and is a microcosm of that sector. Military social work has a rich history of providing services to military men and women and their families during periods of peace, conflict, and national crises. Military social workers have been involved in humanitarian operations and have participated in multinational peace-keeping operations. Social work in the Army, Navy, and Air Force is tailored to the mission of their particular service. However, joint operations between the services are becoming more frequent. Military social workers adhere to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) code of ethics while providing service to an institution with its own unique culture, standards, and values. The role of military social workers has expanded since the Global War on Terrorism began, in 2001. Military social work encompasses a wide variety of skills, performed by social workers who are both civilian and military, ranging from crisis to working with families. Military social work is unique and often faces ethical dilemmas even though military social workers still follow the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics. The history of military social work dates back to the early 1940s, but has evolved with the needs of military members and their families. The Army, Air Force, and Navy all have social workers, both civilian and those who wear the uniform. Due to the number of veterans and military families living throughout the United States, and seeking care in community settings, recommendations to establish competencies for social workers working with military and veteran-connected populations is underway.

Article

Racism  

Selena T. Rodgers

Racism is pervasive, endemic, and historically rooted in systematic assumptions inherent in superiority based on race and requires the critical attention of all social workers. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has made strides in tackling racism as demonstrated by the social worker and civil rights activist Whitney Young Jr. (1921–1971), other pioneers, and more recently, the NASW zero-tolerance racism policy. Undergirded in empirical discussion, this article leads with the etymology of race(ism), followed by a discussion of Racial Formation Theory and Critical Race Theory. The article gives a historical sketch of racism, followed by examples of its contemporary indicators—throughout social institutions—in the United States. Racism is pervasive and impinges on micro-level and macro-level systems. It is, therefore, beyond the scope of this article to address how racism impacts each group in America. Social work scholars and other experts have provided extensive empirical documentation about the historical trauma and sufferings of other racial groups (e.g., Native Americans/Native peoples/American Indians, Mexican Americans) discussed elsewhere. Specifically, the racism endured by blacks in America is the emphasis of this article. Themes of “colorism” and historical trauma are provided to contextualize advances in national reform and encourage a broader conversation about the racism that blacks experience globally. In addition, this article highlights strides by the social work profession to eradicate racism. Implications for social work are discussed.

Article

Indigenous and Tribal Communities  

Megan G. Sage

Indigenous populations have experienced hundreds of years of historical trauma, systemic racism, and oppression since colonization began in the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Settler colonialism has created and continues to perpetuate historical and ongoing trauma and systemic racism in Indigenous populations. Despite considerable diversity and resilience among Indigenous populations globally, there is a clear pattern of significant disparities and disproportionate burden of disease compared to other non-Indigenous populations, including higher rates of poverty, mortality, substance use, mental health and health issues, suicide, and lower life expectancy at birth. Substantial gaps related to access to healthcare and service utilization exist, particularly in low-income Indigenous communities. Implementation and sustainment of White dominant-culture frameworks of care in Indigenous communities perpetuate these systems of oppression. Development and implementation of culturally informed services that address historical trauma and oppression, and systematically integrate concepts of resiliency, empowerment, and self-determination into care, are issues of policy as well as practice in social work. The co-creation and subsequent implementation, monitoring, and sustainment of effective systems of care with Indigenous populations are essential in addressing health disparities and improving outcomes among Indigenous populations globally.