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Article

David R. Hodge

This entry addresses the topic of spirituality in the social work profession, with an emphasis on the American context. Toward that end, the history of the relationship between the profession and spirituality is traced from the profession’s origins, through secularization, to the present reemergence of spirituality as a legitimate subject in social work discourse. The diverse ways in which spirituality and religion are conceptualized are reviewed along with rationales that are advanced to support the inclusion of spirituality in social work. The topics of spiritual assessment and intervention are discussed and guidelines for using spiritual interventions in practice settings are presented with a brief review of the research on spiritual interventions from an evidenced-based perspective. Some of the organizations that help support and nurture spirituality in social work are delineated. The entry concludes with a summary of proscriptions for advancing spirituality to the next stage in its professional development.

Article

Religions have traditionally called upon believers to be generous and assist others in need. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are a few examples of religions that stress this call. In the United States, the roots of the current religious system date back to the 17th century, when those who fled Europe to escape religious persecution established the first congregations. However, real faith-based social care developed only after independence and disestablishment. Today, faith-based social care is an essential part of the American welfare system, from the safety net provided by congregations to the sophisticated contracted services provided by the faith-based social services.

Article

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

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

Diana R. Garland

The term “Christian social services” refers to the involvement of persons and agencies that identify themselves as having a Christian faith orientation that motivates their response to the material and interpersonal needs of persons not met by family or the larger community. This entry describes formalized services provided through organizations, including congregations, as well as agencies and organizations affiliated with congregations.

Article

Flore Zéphir

Haitians constitute a visible segment of American society, with a population close to 1 million. Many experience a great deal of difficulty adjusting to a different culture and language, as well as to the realities of a new labor market. Consequently, they endure stress and dysfunctionality, and are referred to counseling and social work services. This entry discusses important elements of Haitian culture, such as religion and family structure, that Haitian immigrants bring with them to the United States. It argues that an understanding of how these elements affect Haitian Americans' lives is critical to delivering social work services.

Article

This article describes issues related to culturally competent social work practice with religiously fundamentalist families in public school settings. It addresses the history of religious fundamentalist identities, the complexity inherent in such identities, and the nature of fundamentalism. A review of issues related to culturally competent practice in educational settings is offered. Recommendations informed by spiritually sensitive and strength-based approaches are discussed. Challenges to working effectively with religiously conservative and fundamentalist families in educational settings are also explored. Emphasis is placed upon the practitioner’s role in developing spirituality-sensitive therapeutic relationships by improving religious literacy, developing enhanced self-awareness, and approaching clients from a perspective of cultural humility and a lens of intersectionality.