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Article

Patricia Kelley

Narrative therapy was developed by Michael White and David Epston, social workers from Australia and New Zealand respectively, in the late 1980s, spreading to North America in the 1990s. It falls under the rubric of postmodernism, which challenges the idea of absolute and universal truths. Its focus on empowerment, collaboration, and viewing problems in social context fit with social work values. Clients and social workers join together to deconstruct and reconstruct problem saturated stories through externalizing problems and searching for unique outcomes. Although empirical outcome data are limited, many social workers find the concepts useful.

Article

Rosemary Barbera, Mary Bricker-Jenkins, and Barbara Hunter-Randall Joseph

Since the beginning of the profession, progressive social work has been characterized by a lived commitment to practice dedicated to advancing human rights and social and economic justice. Since the mid-1980s, the rise of global capitalism has vitiated support for robust social welfare programs and has had a conservatizing effect on the profession, rendering the progressive agenda both more urgent and more difficult. Since the economic crisis of 2008, with a rise in people suffering, while at the same time those programs that would help ease that suffering have been cut back, further perpetuating the myth that austerity is the cure for the disease that it has caused. Progressive social work has responded to both challenges with innovation and energy, but theoretical and practical conundrums remain. This article is offered as an effort to discuss and define progressive social work and its connection to social work values with the hope of contributing to advancing social work practice that addresses social injustices and human rights violations.

Article

J. Christopher Hall

This article presents a history and overview of first- and second-order cybernetics and the ways in which the theories inform models of social work practice. A foundational understanding of cybernetics is crucial for social workers because it forms the groundwork for how models of practice operationalize the ideal counseling relationship and how client problems will be assessed. A first-order approach invites the social worker to begin counseling via an objective assessment derived from a defined theory of normality, whereas a second-order approach suggests that a social worker adopt a curious or not-knowing approach to explore collaboratively with the client to decide how problems will be understood and how solutions to problems may be constructed. These approaches are sometimes differentiated as first-order, or modern, and second-order, or postmodern.

Article

J. Christopher Hall

A history and description of narrative therapy is provided including empirical research, theoretical underpinnings, and the clinical process of the practice. Narrative is a postmodern, person-centered practice that promotes change through the exploration of narrative. A narrative is a series of events, linked in sequence, through time, according to a specific plot. In this approach identity is understood to be a narrative, a story of self, and narrative techniques involve exploring the meanings attributed to life events, deconstructing, and reconstructing the meaning of those events in ways that are of benefit to the client. Narrative practice is a practice of liberation in that problems are viewed as not being located inside people but in the social discourses that clients have been recruited into accepting in their lives and by which they may be self-subjugating. Narrative is a respectful, non-blaming approach, which places people as the experts of their lives, and harnesses their innate strengths, skills, and resiliencies to re-story, or re-author themselves in a more positive and enriching way.

Article

Darlene Grant

The soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as large numbers of nonwounded soldiers, experience post-traumatic stress disorder. Further, the families, groups, and communities from which all U.S. service men and women come, during and after these and other wars, have experienced their own war-related trauma. Stories on the nightly news reveal soldier reaction to combat stress, including intrusive memories, racing thoughts, nightmares, troubled sleep, irritability, anxiety, fear, isolation, depression anger, poor concentration, hyper- or hypovigilance, exaggerated responses, and increased alcohol and other drug abuse. The stories of family, friends, and community are filled with war stress symptoms of their own. Charged with keeping their families together, bills paid, jobs afloat, children safe and growing, families may experience a drop in income, loneliness and isolation, long deployments, multiple last minute combat redeployment and duty extensions, anger, frustration, depression, increased alcohol and other drug abuse, loss of trust, fear, increase in domestic violence, and school disruption. Not all of the change for family is negative as some spouses and children who are left behind find they have new skills and new independence with which to negotiate their world. The returning soldier's response to this newfound independence and skill may require the services of the clinical social worker.

Article

Allan Hugh Cole Jr.

This entry discusses principal ways in which knowledge and knowing have been understood within philosophy, science, and social science, with implications for contemporary social work practice. Attention is given to various types of knowledge, its necessary conditions, scope, and sources. It focuses particularly on how practice wisdom remains a key source of knowledge for social work theory and practice, and suggests that greater epistemological clarity could further competent social work practice in an increasingly pluralistic world.