• Summary: Specialization in social work practice is increasing in many countries at the same time as textbooks argue for generalist practice. Is there any empirical evidence for one or the other of these approaches? This article discusses generalist and specialist practice, theoretically as well as empirically, by presenting a study of a personal social services organization in Sweden.
• Findings: The article demonstrates advantages as well as disadvantages of specialization for clients and social workers, and concludes that it is the work with clients within the personal social services which, to a large extent, demands that the social worker is a generalist. An outline structure for an alternative personal social services organization is postulated.
• Applications: It is argued that the alternative structure could 1) satisfy the need for generalist and specialist competence respectively, and 2) facilitate harmony between social workers’ professional needs and administrative requirements for management and resource allocation.
This study analyzes the representations of immigrants found in three US social work periodicals published between 1882 and 1952. Beginning from Foucault’s notion of the ‘history of the present’, an approach to history which examines the past in order to illuminate a present-day problematic, and using textual analysis techniques provided by Jacques Derrida, this work of historical discourse analysis traces the discursive constructions of identity through which immigrants were problematized as particular kinds of subjects in social work discourse.
Findings: The immigrant objects of social work attention - subjects subjugated through the discourse of problematization - were discursive inventions. But the differential valuations which constructed individual immigrants or whole ‘races’ of immigrants as ‘desirable’ or ‘undesirable’ were consequential markers invoking vastly unequal material consequences for those so categorized. Social workers, as significant producers of discourses of immigrants, had and do have a much greater range of influence and responsibility than that with which we were and still are wont to credit ourselves.
Application: In making visible the discursive practices of the past, this paper seeks to clarify the task of present-day social workers: to uncover the margins and the limits of the discourses that construct our troubled times.
• Summary: Members of the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) were asked to provide their definition of social work. Over 300 responses were analysed thematically in order to determine if practitioner views corresponded to recent shifts in social work education and theory which emphasized the importance of social change, strengths based perspectives and the importance of local and indigenous contexts.
• Findings: The findings demonstrate that while there was some recognition of social change and strengths-based perspectives in the definitions of social work provided, that those working in the field remain focused on ‘helping individuals, families and groups’ engage in change. Respondents did not, for the most part, acknowledge local or indigenous perspectives in their definitions.
• Applications: Results from this study may be useful for social work professional organizations, and social work educators, students and future researchers who are interested in the definition of social work and its scopes of practice.
• Summary: This article examines the need for a new public law designed to protect vulnerable adults who are being abused. It considers the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on the debate on the need for a new law, and considers developments in the USA and proposals for reform in Scotland. Social workers are frequently in the position of having to deal with the abuse of adults, without a clear legal framework that empowers them to act to protect the person being abused.
• Findings: The article concludes that there is a need for some form of public law designed to protect vulnerable adults. Existing law, which is mainly judge-made, is inappropriate and lacks the required predictability and procedural safeguards. The article argues that the European Convention on Human Rights imposes a duty on states to protect vulnerable adults; however, in devising such a law, regard must be had to the right under the convention to a private life. Any new law must carefully balance these two (often competing) rights. Further difficulties may arise when seeking to define ‘vulnerable adult’ and to identify the precise moment of intervention. The term ‘vulnerable adult’ should include in its definition not only people who lack capacity, but others who are extremely vulnerable and at grave risk.
• Applications: Existing provisions do not provide adequate protection for abused vulnerable adults. The governments in Wales and England need to learn from the US experience and also look at the Scottish Law Commission’s proposals. The current soft-law approach is no longer adequate; new legislation is urgently needed. Social workers should consider their professional response to the current situation.
Summary:This review explores the international literature on therapeutic work with sexually abused children. The emphasis is on the nature, extent and outcomes of non-offending parental involvement in such work. The context is an increasing recognition of the significant influence that non-offending parents may have on their children’s recovery and, at the same time, the serious impact on parents themselves of finding out about the sexual abuse of their children, including the impact on their relationships with their children.
Findings:The article identifies a number of distinct approaches to therapy that differ widely in the nature and extent of non-offending parental involvement. The diversity of approach reflects the variety of underlying theoretical orientation. The implications for children’s recovery are discussed.
Applications: Involving non-offending parents in therapeutic work with their sexually abused children may be important in promoting successful outcomes. It is argued that the perceived benefits of some of the approaches under review may be used flexibly, and in combination, to make significant advances in practice.
Research suggests that if an individual is cruel to animals then he/she is more likely to be aggressive towards his/her partner and children; that children who are abused are more likely to be cruel to animals; and that children who are cruel to animals are more likely to be aggressive towards humans. Because of the potential seriousness of the link between cruelty to animals and a child’s experiences and behaviour, a survey was undertaken in the UK to explore what services were available to children who were cruel to animals. This paper summarizes some of the existing research and describes the study of services.
Findings: The findings show that a small number of children are already receiving services, but that most agencies do not routinely include cruelty to animals as part of their assessment. There is no therapy or counselling specifically focused on cruelty to animals, but agencies could provide a range of services appropriate to the needs of the child and/or the family.
Applications: This articles highlights the fact that a child’s cruelty to animals may be an important symptom of negative experiences and/or predictor of future aggressive behaviour and that cruelty to animals should be included in assessments of vulnerable children.
• Summary: Domestic violence agency administrators struggle to incorporate the Internet safely and effectively into their intimate partner violence (IPV) services. This study utilizes two data gathering tools to identify administrative concerns and web content in the 91 Texas shelters. The first research stage employed a mixed-methods questionnaire (89% response rate) to identify managers’ Internet use patterns and managerial needs. In the second stage, all shelter web sites (65) were submitted to a multi-context content analysis.
• Findings: Overall, findings indicate that administrators see a serious need for basic administrative support tools (e.g. policies and training materials) and the development of cyber-safety resources (e.g. online stalking tips). Administrators view the Internet’s potential for increasing staff efficiency and clients’ sense of self-efficacy as worthwhile. Questionnaire findings indicate that 66 percent of directors need a means of helping clients learn to do their own information-seeking, only 54 percent have a written policy, and 46 percent have no in-house training at all. Web site findings indicate that 61 percent of the sites lacked minimal cyber-safety information despite administrative concerns about cyber-stalking.
• Applications: IPV shelter administrators’ two Internet utility criteria, service priorities and resources, privilege implementation barriers and ignore the embedded expectations of communication and resource support. By shifting from a shelter-based Internet perspective to a user-generated perspective, administrators can integrate clients’ expectations with the shelter’s options. The resultant conceptual framework for Internet integration posits the lived information experience as managers’ basis for shaping social communication, resource generation, information seeking, and decision-making.
• Summary: Since the mid-1970s the Australian welfare state has faced a continuing crisis of resourcing and legitimation. Social work as a central entity within the welfare state has been challenged in terms of to its value base and relevance. As with much of the Western world, this challenge has been heightened with the rise of neoliberalism, which has pervaded most aspects of Australian society. Neoliberalism has consequently had a profound effect upon Australian social workers. The challenges to the Australian welfare state and social work are from without and within, by neoliberal ideas and its practices.
• Findings: While neoliberalism’s relationship to social work as a broad theme is explored in the literature, the complexity of marketization and inclusive aspects have not been considered in any detail in relation to social work. The evidence in the Australian context is even slimmer, and as a consequence the particularity of the Australian welfare state and its relationship to neoliberalism, and the consequences for Australian social work, remains largely untested. Furthermore, while there are some indications of the day to day impact on social work in the context of a post-welfare state regime, little work has been conducted on the capacity of neoliberalism to infiltrate social work through its new institutions of the social and thus become embedded in social work.
• Application: This article lays the foundations for a research project to examine the extent to which neoliberalism has become embedded in Australian social work and how social workers and social work educators are responding to these hegemonic influences. What are the ways in which social workers have become complicit in neoliberalism? Is Australian social work part of the neoliberal project to the point where neoliberalism has become part of its understandings and everyday activity? It is hoped that through this research, a more sophisticated understanding of the impact of neoliberalism on social work will contribute to the revitalization of critical social work in Australia and forms of resistance to the neoliberal project.
• Summary: The article studies how professionals working in a Finnish supported housing unit explain the behaviour of clients which they define as troublesome in regard to rehabilitation expectations. The clients of the unit suffer from mental health and substance abuse problems. The research data consist of 23 meetings where clients’ progress is discussed and were analysed using accounts analysis.
• Findings: There were 225 episodes where the professionals explain clients’ troublesome behaviour. Three ways of accounting appeared with similar frequency: 1) blaming clients for their behaviour, 2) excusing clients’ behaviour, 3) excusing clients and blaming others for the clients’ behaviour. Detailed analysis of the data shows how these ways of accounting are used in the meeting talk and how blame, excuses and responsibility are combined in different ways. Another important finding is that the same troublesome behaviour can be accounted for in several ways in the course of meeting conversations.
• Applications : The analysis displays the complex ways in which policy imperatives and professional ethics are routinely managed in everyday situations. While concepts like self-determination and choice promote clients’ control of their care, in practice client careers are affected by locally negotiated judgements. The study of policy implementation can benefit from discourse-oriented approaches.
• Summary: This article investigates how newspapers in the Republic of Ireland are delivering ‘social work news’ during a period of professional flux and evolving economic crisis.
• Findings: Many citizens in the Republic are currently experiencing serious economic hardship partly related to the global recession. It is important to understand the shape which the crisis is taking and to try to ascertain how this is impacting on social work. The article refers to an unpublished study of newspaper coverage of social work between January 2006 and January 2008. In this context, in the second part of discussion, particular attention will be devoted to the interventions of The Irish Times columnist, John Waters. Also, to accounts of ‘high profile cases’, particularly those appearing to highlight the urgent need to establish a national emergency or ‘out-of-hours’ social work service. Here, the work of the social affairs correspondent, Carl O’Brien, will be discussed.
• Applications: Social workers and social work academics need to strive to understand, and politically situate, newspaper accounts of social work and related forms of activity. Moreover, social workers should seek to intervene and shape newspaper accounts of their work. The article suggests that a recent report produced in England may aid social workers deliberations and actions in this respect ( Social Work Task Force, 2009 ).
Summary: This article reports the findings of the Edge of Change Project which sought to enable specialist social services teams in three local authorities to improve services for Deaf and hard of hearing service
users in line with the Best Practice Standards. In particular we highlight the characteristics of the three areas: the projects they chose; a flavour of how they addressed the projects; and identify potential lessons for
those similarly seeking to improve services.
• Findings: In particular we identify potential glimpses for meaningful change including: change being based on underpinning values, partnership with service users, effective communication, ‘seed money’ creativity and a collegial style of management. The inhibitors of change
identified include: ‘keeping the day-job going’, underestimating the amount of time and resources required, staff changes, lack of technological support, and the need to be both looking in and out and the fact that external events can change everything. • Applications: The themes discussed are potentially generalizable and may be of help to those considering similar changes with specialist
This non-experimental study was undertaken in order to explore the nature of the relationship between mental health status, English language acquisition, and economic self-sufficiency among recent Bosnian refugees. The subjects (N = 34) were Bosnian refugees recruited from a Catholic refugee resettlement program in the Syracuse area of central New York.
Findings: Though no correlation was found among the hypothesized variable relationships, serious trauma-related symptoms were identified in about one-third of refugees. Although no empirical link was identified between trauma-related symptoms and self-sufficiency, the incidence of those symptoms is a cause for concern. Frequently indicated symptoms included sleep disturbance, loneliness, and hopelessness about the future.
Applications: From our findings, we can only consider these issues as mental health or quality of life concerns, not as barriers to self-sufficiency. Independently of this study’s lack of support for the latter, these quality of life concerns per se are deserving of attention. Given the regional labor shortage at the time of the study, it is possible that economic self-sufficiency may be more problematic in other periods and places
• Summary: A concern amongst policy-makers to identify high cost and low productivity populations has created a new interest in identifying those who experience adversities across the life course. This article outlines the development of conceptual understandings of families whose children experience multiple adversities and links this with later poor outcomes in adult life and examines some of the research challenges in establishing such linkages.
• Findings: It is argued that current thinking with regard to these issues reflects historical domains within which services to children and to adults are located. The challenge to domain thinking is both horizontal and vertical, policy being required to address the horizontal axis by co-ordinating planned approaches to multiple needs across services, and policy being necessary to address the vertical cleavage between children’s and adult services in ways which join up services across the life path; conceptually and practically acknowledging the links between child and adult experiences.
• Applications: Such policy developments will inevitably require social work to develop alternative paradigms for understanding the needs of children and adults and designing services to effectively meet these.
• Summary: This article uses the concept of citizenship to explore the recent mental health statutes within England and Wales and within Scotland. It argues that differences in the content, and practice context, herald a parting of the ways in mental health social work in the United Kingdom.
• Findings: The author focuses on three key differences: the reciprocity principle, the grounds for compulsory treatment and the place of social work within compulsory intervention to demonstrate how the statutes have led to more limited legal, procedural and social rights in England and Wales than in Scotland. The result for social work is that the practice context created in England and Wales may become more risk averse and that social work services may have a more residual role within statutory mental health work. The differences described in this article may also reflect increasing post-devolution divergence in the provision of social work services across the four countries that make up the United Kingdom.
• Applications: Further research is needed to explore if these divergences, within mental health law and policy, are in practice supporting or limiting citizenship.
• Summary: Injustice, oppression, and inequality affect human experience in all contexts. This article describes the problem of ‘disproportionate minority confinement’ in the United States juvenile justice system as one manifestation of such injustice. With specific focus on overrepresentation of African American males, the juvenile justice approach to this problem is contrasted with a critical social work perspective in the form of the human rights approach.
• Findings: Available data from all but one of the 50 United States indicate a disproportionate level of incarceration of youth classified as African American in juvenile justice facilities. Although the United States federal government enacted policy reforms in 1988 that require states which receive federal funds to decrease the proportion of minority youth who are incarcerated in secure facilities, few gains have been realized.
• Application: The author proposes that social workers employ a human rights approach to supplant the dominant juvenile justice paradigm. Application of human rights practice to disproportionate minority confinement suggests that social workers challenge the juvenile justice/social control discourse with a human rights/social change discourse; deconstruct the constructs of ‘disproportionate minority confinement’, ‘juvenile delinquency’, and ‘race’; challenge the expert/exclusionary problem-solving process with a dialogical/inclusionary process; challenge deficit-oriented activities with strength-based and asset-building activities; and introduce critical reflectivity into professional decision-making.
There are substantial variations in the way that applicants are selected for social work programmes in the UK and across the world. This article begins by reviewing the literature in this field, revealing debates about how effective and reliable are methods of assessment used during admission processes. It then describes a cross-sectional survey of new social work applicants ( n = 203) to two programme providers, describing demographic characteristics and their experiences of the admissions process.
A number of themes emerged from two sets of findings. There were variations in demographic characteristics, particularly in terms of gender and religion. The study was particularly interested in how students viewed the admissions process. Most students were satisfied with admissions processes, and there were some differences in views about the methods used. The article concludes by describing changes to the admissions system that were partly informed by the study. The article acknowledges the expected bias in the methodology, given that successful applicants were surveyed and not those who were not successful.
The authors discuss the study findings in the context of national and international literature and suggest that more rigorous attention should be paid to such evaluations to enable this important area of education and workforce development to be better understood.
• Summary: This study uses an integrative framework that includes various theories on delinquency to explain the relative contribution of factors on delinquency among Samoan adolescents and their overrepresentation in the Juvenile Justice System. Some 275 Samoan adolescents were recruited for the study from the states of Hawaii and Washington. Structural equation modeling was employed for the analysis.
• Findings: Two models were analyzed. One model tested all the factors regardless of economic status. The full model fits the data well. The other model utilized economic conditions as a moderating factor (multigroup model). The multigroup invariance shows that the measurement model appears to fit better with the higher income group rather than the lower income group. The results suggest that while acculturative stress has a direct impact on delinquency, family cohesion can be a deterrent to high acculturative stress on delinquency particularly for the higher income group. The major hypothesis was confirmed by the data to show that there was a predictive relationship between involvement with antisocial peers and delinquency, and prosocial peers and no delinquency. However, it varied by income group. The higher income group showed a stronger predictive relationship of the involvement with prosocial peers and low delinquency.
• Applications: Given the results, it is imperative for social workers to understand the impact of acculturation on family members and their family functioning. A better understanding of culture and how it operates within a family as well as an understanding of cultural identity is an important part of service to Samoan families.
• Summary: Focus groups and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 parents from New Zealand who had adopted Russian born children. The aim of the research was to explore the ways in which parents establish and build their parenting and attachment relationships with their ‘new’ children.
• Findings: Findings revealed the immense commitment, child-centred focus, and conscious parenting of parents. The range of strategies used to build relationships and attachments included: quality time, play, touch and holding, and communication. Parents’ high levels of commitment were established through preparation to adopt, especially the acquisition of knowledge about and understanding of attachment issues. Support groups, notably other adoptive parents were also critical to enhancing relationships between children and their adoptive parents. Fathers were actively engaged in the process of building attachments.
• Applications: Intercountry adoptive parenting is a special kind of parenting, especially because of the challenges presented by children often neglected or abused prior to adoption. Helping prepare parents for both the rewards and challenges of intercountry adoption and supporting them post-adoption still needs to be improved by professional social work services. Acknowledgement of parents’ and children’s resilience and strengths that they bring to the new relationship will help create realistic expectations on the part of professionals and would-be adopters.
• Summary: This article examines the processes and outcomes of adult protection referrals in two local authorities in England using adult protection monitoring data collected between 1998 and 2005, identifying learning for the use and development of adult protection monitoring.
• Findings: Associations were found between aspects of process and outcome in adult protection case management; police and regulatory agency involvement increased over time, over four-fifths of referrals resulted in investigations which were associated with higher levels of inter-agency involvement, abuse was confirmed for over two-fifths of referrals, there was significant territorial variation across a range of process and outcome measures and specialist adult protection coordinators were associated with higher levels of monitoring and post-abuse work. The study concluded that more work is needed to improve and standardize adult protection monitoring data if it is to more effectively inform case management and inter-authority comparisons.
• Applications: The evidence from the study suggests that adult protection monitoring data can be used to help review and organize adult protection work at agency, team and case levels and is consequently of potential value to team managers, social workers and specialist co-ordinators working in adult protection.
• Summary: The article reports findings from an audit of Serious Case Reviews into the death or harm of a vulnerable adult in England. Serious Case Reviews may be undertaken by local authorities in partnership with other agencies. There is little government guidance and practice appears variable.
• Findings: Interviews were undertaken in 2007 with persons who had been appointed to Chair Serious Case Reviews and with those who commissioned such Reviews or managed the process. The findings confirm the aspiration of such Reviews to be opportunities for learning from mistakes, if any, and to thereby offer greater safeguards for vulnerable adults. In practice however, the conduct of such Reviews may be difficult if there is a lack of cooperation, a lack of resources and if there is little opportunity to share findings and recommendations outside the locality.
• Application: This study supports the sharing of Serious Case Reviews to encourage learning from mistakes and missed opportunities to safeguard vulnerable adults. It also found agreement among those with experience in such Reviews that greater guidance on conduct and collaboration would be welcome.
• Summary: The transformation of adult social care in England is underway, with the aim of promoting greater control and choice among people eligible for publicly funded social care services. A key part of personalization is the policy move to promote personal budgets. This article aims to investigate the inter-relation of personal budgets with another policy goal, adult safeguarding. A pilot programme of the predecessors of personal budgets, individual budgets, took place 2005–2008 and was evaluated by an independent research team. This article presents findings from the team’s second round of interviews with adult safeguarding coordinators (ASCs) in the 13 pilot sites held early 2008 which are discussed in the context of proposed adult safeguarding reforms in England.
• Findings: This second round of interviews with ASCs revealed greater engagement with social care transformation than previously. However, their detailed expertise in adult safeguarding and their local intelligence and experiences were not regularly accessed. This may constitute a missed opportunity to address some of the tensions of personalization in practice.
• Application: The interviews reveal that the personalization of social care is often interpreted as relating to greater use of Direct Payments and has yet to consider other facets of this policy transformation that are central to social work practice, including safeguarding.
• Summary: This article explores the question of how human beings change, how change is constrained, and how change emerges out of and subsequently creates new forms of stability with adults. The emergence of Dynamic Systems Theories (DST) from developmental biology and neuroscience provide the tools to engage in such an understanding by attending to the issues of time, balance, influencing parameters (within person and sociocultural and material environments), and multiple adaptive and maladaptive pathways. DST provides the framework to understand the dynamic processes of bio-psychosocial factors that provide human beings with the stability and the flexibility to navigate the challenges and stressors of living. Complexity, the ability to experience inner continuity as one is changing, is a fluid balance that supports effective functioning.
• Findings: Key principles and concepts of DST describe multiple pathways of stability and change. A case example illustrates how DST helps social workers understand client experiences and responses to stressors, formulate initial and ongoing assessments, and monitor clients’ participation in change activities.
• Application: Social workers seek to help people who experience an imbalance due to an inability to effectively respond to the negative impact of a stressor. By understanding the various pathways of balance and imbalance along the continuum of continuity to change, social workers can better understand how stressors are impacting specific clients, and subsequently the kinds of change that would best assist each client.
• Summary: The evaluation of a project instigated by a voluntary group provided an opportunity to investigate the benefits of holiday breaks to both carers and participants. Feedback was obtained from over 100 people with intellectual disabilities through individual and group interviews, as well as from their carers using self-completed questionnaires.
• Findings: Overall, the breaks were thoroughly enjoyed by the project members, providing them with a range of activities and leisure pursuits in the company of their friends and, on certain breaks, with non-disabled people as well. Carers reported more benefits to their relative in the later years of the project and became more willing for their relative to attend.
• Applications: Three main issues are discussed: the use of mainstream settings and services, rather than specialist facilities, to provide short breaks; how best to encourage other carers of people with more significant needs to avail themselves of these opportunities; and ways of improving the social and leisure networks of people living with families so that the benefits of the ‘holiday’ experience could be recreated more locally and more frequently.
• Summary: The role of social work has not, to date, been sufficiently explored in persuasive policy practice. This article draws upon messages from a study about the motivators used by educators to reach more privileged learners on issues of social justice. Applying messages to policy practice allows advocates to comprehensively craft advocacy practices that draw from these motivators, which have been shown to enlist support from more privileged power holders in social justice issues.
• Findings: This article confirms the importance of Goodman’s motivators (2000 , 2001 ) of empathy, values and beliefs, spirituality, and self-interest; a deeper complexity about how to effectively use these motivators is explored. The research reveals that another four categories of motivators can be added to persuasion strategies: guilt, anger, desire to create a legacy, and a universal yearning for justice.
• Applications: The contribution of this article is to advance the strategic dimensions of advocacy efforts undertaken by social workers. It seeks to inspire practitioners of the need to move away from a value-neutral position of social work (where practitioners avoid using their influence to obtain specific outcomes) to exploring the strategic value of being as persuasive as possible, in order to advance social justice among policy-makers.
• Summary: Domestic violence often directly and indirectly undermines the relationship between mothers and their children. This paper describes ‘the tactics of abuse’ that are instrumental in this damaging process and draws on previous research by one of the authors which shows that a conspiracy of silence can ensue, precluding talk of the abuse that women and children have experienced. The first stage of a four-year action research process designed to address some of these issues is discussed.
• Findings: Early findings show that those women and children living in refuges or using outreach services who chose to work together on activities have found the process beneficial. They have provided critical feedback about how the project and activities can be revised for the second action research cycle. The research also shows that not all women are ready to engage in this process when they enter a refuge, and it does require them to acknowledge that their children have been exposed to, and negatively affected by, domestic violence.
• Applications: The implications for social workers and specifically the need to provide active support for the mother-child relationship in the aftermath of domestic violence are discussed.
• Summary: This article examines the effects of violence by service users in England and Finland against child protection social workers. Proposals derived from analysis of research findings for improved policies and practice in agencies, with particular reference to England, are discussed. In addition, results and implications of a smaller number of interviews with social workers in Finland are explored.
• Findings: The research found that there are a number of different effects resulting from violence on child protection social workers, depending on the particular configuration of factors involved in any particular situation. These include concerns about the effects of user violence on the ability of social workers to protect children; the importance of managers keeping a focus on workers’ safety, particularly when threats are not always obvious to others; staff support strategies; responses to violent service users; and how workers’ experiences can be employed to improve risk assessment and risk management.
• Applications: This article suggests that the experiences of and learning by social workers derived from incidents of violence need to be more systematically included in policy development and review. In addition, attitudes and procedures need to be in place which allow social workers to report their concerns and have them dealt with effectively.
• Summary: This article reviews, particularly with reference to USA sources, the empowerment perspective, the strengths perspective, and the harm reduction approach as they relate to clinical application in serving those affected with alcohol or drug use disorders.
• Findings: Social work practitioners have long been educated in applying empowerment processes and the strengths perspective to better serve their clients. However, applying the harm reduction approach, particularly to the population of those with substance use disorders, has only recently been discussed in social work literature.
• Applications : The purpose of this article is to provide social work practitioners with relevant information pertinent to the empowerment perspective, the strengths perspective, and the harm reduction approach as they apply to helping those with substance use disorders. It also proposes various strategies involved in the assessment process, treatment planning, and treatment derived from practice experience that integrates these important social work approaches to possibly better assist this population.
• Summary: This article reviews the extent of current knowledge, particularly with reference to US sources about gender-specific alcohol-related life experience consequences, and explores the implications of these differences for practice.
• Findings: Alcohol affects women in significantly different ways from men. Women’s consumption of alcohol is capable of inflicting more severe problems over shorter periods of time with less alcohol consumed. The sequence of alcohol-related life experience consequences also differs significantly between genders. Women with alcohol-use disorders experience gender-specific medical impairments as well as other significant differences and are more likely to be exposed to victimization.
• Applications: The purpose of this article is to provide social work practitioners with relevant information about the effects of alcohol on women. It also provides important interviewing strategies for workers who will encounter women with alcohol-related problems. These strategies are intended to enhance the practitioner’s ability to broach the subject and initially screen for alcohol-related problems among female clients.
• Summary: This article advances a basic model for cross-cultural social work teaching linked to the use of appropriate cultural methodology that is fundamental to the learning success of Arab social work students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
• Findings: The article’s findings are based on qualitative research methodology and makes use of focus groups and narrative case studies. The article explores Arab social work students’ perception of receiving education in English in a fourth-year Social Work Practice course presented by a Western, English-speaking social work faculty. It also summarizes the self-reflective experiences of the author who lectured social work at a prominent university in the United Arab Emirates over a period of four years in order to generate some practical guidelines for social work educators on cross-cultural teaching and learning success located in a culture other than their own.
• Applications: In this regard, the article also shares some suggestions for teaching social work across cultural barriers in the UAE based on student perceptions and self-reflective experiences of the author.
• Summary: This paper presents original research data on the topic of gender and managerial careers in social services. Case study research has been carried out in one English Social Services Department (SSD) and the data has been analysed from a post-structuralist perspective.
• Findings: The project concludes that caring responsibilities in the domestic domain impede the likelihood of women progressing to senior management. This is because the dominant construction of management is more compatible with fatherhood than motherhood. Child care arrangements are negotiated within both the domestic domain and the workplace. Not only are power relations involved, but also the positions taken on parenting and child care contribute to the construction of gendered subjectivity. Managerial ambition cannot be understood outside this complex interplay of identification, desire, anxiety and cultural constraint.
• Application: Whilst policy initiatives and wider developments in gender relations are applauded, the deep-seated resistance to change is also acknowledged. Changing the managerial environment is not only a simple matter of employers and policy makers developing new employment structures that more effectively enable the combination of caring and managerial responsibilities.
This article examines the continuing marginalization of sexual orientation in social work practice. Taking the findings and recommendations of a small scale exploratory study as our starting point, we review United Kingdom (UK) research on social work and sexual orientation and illustrate the contradictions and constraints in implementing effective strategies for change. We explore the potential of cultural competence as a framework for developing anti-heterosexist practice.
• Findings: Current cultural competence frameworks have potential for developing anti-heterosexist practice through attention to awareness and understanding of attitudes, knowledge and skills. But they are limited by weak attention to underpinning theory, to the application of principles in practice, the complex reality of multi-cultural membership and the application of cultural competence at an organizational level.
• Applications : These findings have utility for social work students, educators and trainers, for the development of professional standards, for social work practice and supervision, and for organizations in creating inclusive learning and working environments and resisting heterosexism in social work.
• Summary: The Australian Prime Minister’s 2008 historic Apology to the Stolen Generations gives Australian social work an opportunity to confront its past complicity in Australian Indigenous disadvantage and embrace the development of Indigenous social work as central for practice. Critical Whiteness ¹ theory in social work curricula could assist the development of Indigenous social work as a core approach by challenging the ongoing and largely un-reflexive practices emanating from social work’s Euro-centric heritage with its often taken-for-granted knowledges and principles which negatively affect Indigenous peoples.
• Findings: Recent professional and theoretical attention on critical Whiteness highlights race privilege, questions the invisibility and continuing invisibilization of race, critiques previously taken-for-granted Western knowledges and practices, and facilitates the development of countering practice approaches. Research studies reveal some practitioners to be aware of the need for different practices as well as some who practice differently without realizing they are using critical Whiteness principles.
• Application: Critical Whiteness theory in the social work curriculum offers a strong conceptual and practical opportunity for students and practitioners to become more racially cognizant in their work with Indigenous people, allowing this work to be more effective in the profession’s social justice mission as well as decreasing some of the extant colonizing practices.
The present study employed recent elaborations on general strain theory (GST) to develop a typology of vicarious and anticipated strain. The typology also considered gender-race combinations. The study used a sample of 11,222 adolescents who completed the School Success Profile for school assessment purposes.
Latent class analysis identified four patterns of vicarious and anticipated strain among adolescents. The patterns varied by sample members’ gender-race combinations. The latent class solution was replicated with two subsamples and validated by testing its association with behavior problems.
Evidence-based practices are suggested for students experiencing different combinations of strain, and specific applications for social work practice are presented.
• Summary: Two groups of social workers ( n = 19, n = 13) carried out two different forms of assessment session, one involving an ASI (Addiction Severity Index) interview ( n = 40) and one without ( n = 43). After the sessions the social workers were requested to assess both the clients' experience and their own experience of the session. The clients also reported their own experience of the sessions.
• Findings: The results show that the social workers' assessment of the clients' experience differs from the clients' own assessments regarding the sub-scales of alliance and the clients' sense of own competence. However, no difference was observed between the social workers' assessment and the clients' negative experiences of the sessions. The results show the importance of asking the clients for their views when testing new ways of working. This will provide a more balanced picture as social workers are inclined to perceive the negative aspects and misjudge other experiences. The two different forms of session, with or without the ASI, did not affect the social workers' assessment of the clients' experience of the sessions.
• Applications : Testing of new methods of working in social work.
•Summary: This paper discusses some of the issues that concern social workers making long-term assessments in the light of central government criticism of inadequate assessment and use of adoptive placements. We draw partly on our research into local government use of adoption placements (Clifford et al., 2003). We also draw on our previous publications on assessment, and on related research. Our approach is therefore both empirical and theoretical. It is partly a contribution to understanding the nature of contemporary social work assessment practice, but primarily a polemic against influential misperceptions.
•Findings: Our findings are that policy-makers have notsufficiently understood the complexity of the mix of interpretation, evidence and ethical judgement involved, and that social workers inevitably struggle with moral dilemmas arising from their simultaneous responsibilities to interpret evidence and to work in close partnership with the conflicting interests of service users, of carers and of other professional colleagues.
•Applications: The application of the evidence in this paper is that policy-makers need to understand the dynamic, ethical complexity of judgements involved in social work assessment, and avoid policy development linked to misguided assumptions. The findings also underline the need for social workers to continue to pay critical attention to empirical evidence, interpretative issues and ethical considerations.
• Summary: This article provides a critique of the epidemiological research that currently informs mental health social work with asylum seekers. Most of the literature that currently informs social work practice with asylum seekers with mental health difficulties comes from psychiatric studies which are largely underpinned by a medical model.
• Findings: It is argued that aetiological accounts, predominantly deriving from psychiatry and based largely on biological causation, are untenable. A more comprehensive model is presented, which considers both biological causation and a social perspective and locates the mental health difficulties experienced by asylum seekers in a much wider context. The model is further divided into pre-, post- and migratory stress factors.
• Application: The aim is to provide social work with a practical tool to make sense of the mental health difficulties faced by asylum seekers, help in the development of assessment tools, and help multidisciplinary agencies to define the roles and remit of staff as well as contribute towards the development of policy and practice.
• Summary: This article discusses the findings of a qualitative study with a sample of suicide attempters in the Chinese immigrant community of New York City from an ecological perspective.
• Findings: The narratives of the participants delineate the pathway of their suicide attempts as the culmination of an interactive process of stressors, mental illness, and diminished help-seeking behavior, compounded by immigrant-specific issues, cultural meanings of distress and social barriers to resources.
• Application: The transactional dynamics of these risk factors underscore the importance of adopting an integrative and contextualized stance of inquiry in suicide studies and initiating a broad-based community effort in suicide prevention.
In Taiwan, a 2007 Mental Health Act amendment stipulated to better protect patient autonomy and human rights based on a psychiatric disease assessment and a review committee consisting of several specialists, including psychiatric social workers. In 2009, involuntary hospitalization rates had not decreased but had increased to more than 90 percent. Social workers are obligated to advocate the rights of the individual in their ward. This study investigated the attitude of 235 psychiatric social workers toward coercion and the human rights of psychiatric patients in the process.
Most considered involuntary hospitalization as a means providing care and security, and supported its use. Most favored patient rights to a good environment and daily life over their right to refuse treatment and the right to make legal decisions. Gender, educational level, and working experience at psychiatric facilities were found to be associated with attitudes toward coercion and the rights of involuntarily hospitalized patients. Multivariate regression revealed a social worker’s holding a view that coercive hospitalization as offensive or therapeutic could predict a higher regard for the human rights of psychiatric patients.
Conflicts between the role of a psychiatric social worker as patient advocate and his or her participation in a committee dedicated to protecting the patient and society from harm can be source of distress for some social workers. Future studies might want to focus how to best prepare future social workers for this role or focus on legal changes that could be instigated to better ensure patient autonomy.
• Summary: This article explores the historical and contemporary philosophical and religious influences of social welfare policy and programs in the United States. A discussion of Weber's critique of Calvin's Reformed theology and the profound influence of Calvin's Reformed theology, including the concept of predestination and the Protestant work ethic, as well as the influence of Spencer's social Darwinism on US social policy. Elements of early ideological bias that reflected the moral failure of the poor are discussed with regard to early poor care and the Charity Organization Society movement, and are contrasted with the more pragmatic and compassionate approach of Jane Addams's Settlement House movement.
• Findings: An argument is made that a resurgence of social Darwinism and secularized Reformed theology is currently reflected in contemporary political and economic movements, including welfare reform measures in PRWORA of 1996, and the related TANF program, which has had a devastating effect on the economically disadvantaged populations in the United States.
• Application: Since social workers are on the front lines of social welfare policy development and practice, implication for social work education and practice are discussed emphasizing the importance of increased awareness of such damaging ideologies. Such awareness will lead to increased political discourse and advocacy for social welfare policy development and practice congruent with social work values.
• Summary: Professional social work identity emerges from particular historical, sociopolitical and organizational contexts. This article examines social work practices and identities in the context of Australian social work responses to homelessness. It draws on historical and contemporary literature and a qualitative study that interviewed 39 social workers employed in the area of homelessness in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.
• Findings: The findings of this research indicate that social workers employed in the field of homelessness constructed their professional identities by drawing on historical debates in social work literature including structural and/or individual approaches to social problems, as well as by reflecting on the personal and professional tensions that arise from their practice contexts. It also found that professional social work identity is overshadowed by managerial organizational contexts, influencing social work practice in the field of homelessness.
• Application: Debates have existed about social work identity since its inception. A critically informed approach to social work research, practice and literature provides significant insights into the challenges faced by social workers in this new and emerging area of practice and enables social workers to question social inequalities that disadvantage people experiencing homelessness. Further research is needed to identify differences and similarities between Australian and international social worker experiences in homelessness services.
What characterizes the practice of expert mental health social workers? An observational study of social workers in a public mental health network in Melbourne, Australia sought to answer this question and the findings are reported in this article. As part of a larger study of mental health social work expertise, direct observation was done of the work of six practitioners engaged in a range of activities about which they were subsequently interviewed.
Findings: In the first stage based on group interviews, six themes were identified. These were termed: 1) ‘The Knowledge’; 2) ‘A lot of hard grind’; 3) ‘We are here for the clients’; 4) ‘The complicated and the difficult’; 5) ‘The stone in the shoe’; and 6) ‘Going ten rounds with the system’. In this second stage observational study, evidence was found for all of these six themes, plus two additional ones relating to supervision and the emotive content of the work.
Applications: Development of expertise consists of three elements: 1) a personality predisposition and personal capacity; 2) education; and 3) a conducive workplace environment. The application of the findings lies in developing the conditions for these elements to emerge.
• Summary: This article analyses how neo-liberal and managerialist policies, over the last two decades in Australia, have positioned university staff as self-managing individuals. Social work academics are positioned as ‘free agents . . .empowered to act on their own behalf while ‘‘steered from a distance’’ by ‘‘policy norms and rules of the game’’ (Marginson, 1997, p. 63, italics added). Using governmentality theories as developed by Bacchi (2009), Burchell, Gordon, and Miller (1991), Dean (1996, 1999a, 1999b), Foucault (1983, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991), Hindess (1997, 2003), Miller (1992), Barry, Osborne, and Rose (1996) and Rose (1999) and an analysis of how staff are positioned in higher education settings is explored.
• Findings: This article identifies the ways neo-liberal policy and managerialism operates to enable power relations that both individualize and totalize academic staff, including social work academics. Efforts to transform power relations require an understanding of how particular situations are problematized and the identification of the governmental technologies employed to constitute the political identities of social work academics.
• Applications: Identifying how neo-liberal technologies of government affect social work academics could stimulate a renewed struggle for change and reinvigorate political action in social work university departments and social work settings more broadly.
• Summary: Internationally accepted social work values are based on ideas about rights, social justice and equitable resource distribution. Does social work education in China embody similar values? Are these values influenced by culture and the current political/economic environment? The research posed three questions. Do social work students studying in metropolitan China support humanitarian welfare values? Are values affected by demographic backgrounds? Does social work education enhance humanitarian values? A self-administered, standardized questionnaire was distributed in 26 classes of social work students studying in seven universities in Beijing and Shanghai ( n = 1328).
• Findings: Students do not support humanitarian welfare values strongly; and a decrease in these values was observed in senior students. Significant differences in values were found based on gender and on rural/urban origins. Female students were more likely to agree with humanitarian value statements; rural and urban students tended to agree more with values from which they had potential to benefit.
• Applications: Social work knowledge and skills rather than values maybe more immediately relevant to Chinese society. However, independent professional practitioners need a solid foundation of professional values to inform practice and standardize the social work role. There needs to be an ongoing debate in China involving social work educators and practitioners about values and their relation to Chinese society, the ways in which they are influenced by non-Chinese cultures; and how to infuse these consistently into social work curricula in Chinese universities.
• Summary: Social work has developed to meet the needs of an industrializing society. As environmental concerns have increased, national, and international social work organizations have called on social workers to incorporate issues of the environment into their professional practice. Although there is a small body of literature related to social work and the environment, the profession has not fully embraced the need to incorporate these issues into social work education or practice. This cross-sectional survey in the United States of a random sample of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) members ( n = 373) was designed to gauge the environmental knowledge and attitudes of social work professionals.
• Findings: Though social work shares many of the same underlying tenets of groups interested in environmental justice, results suggest that social workers as a profession are no more, nor less, environmentally friendly than the general population.
• Applications: By failing to incorporate ecological issues facing the United States and abroad, our current social policies are at best not sustainable, and at worst dangerous for our continued social well-being. Social workers can play a leading role through an understanding of the interrelationship that exists between people and the environment, the integration of environmental issues into their social work practice, and advocating for vulnerable populations.
• Summary: This article analyses the ‘Big Society’ agenda of the UK coalition government as a response to New Labour’s regulation of society through incentives, contracts, targets and micro-management.
• Findings: It argues that two sides of the programme are relevant for social work. Initially, most attention has understandably focused on the public spending cuts – rolling back the state and transferring responsibilities to voluntary organizations. But in the longer term, of equal significance will be its emphasis on increased citizen participation, empowered communities and collective action.
• Applications: This agenda poses challenges and opportunities for a practice which is less individualistic, formal and desk-bound; but it also raises issues about the wider solidarities upon which equality and social justice depend.
• Summary: Although many `Anglophone' countries now host significant linguistic diversity, minimal attention has been paid to language policy in social work. This paper examines how language policy in both its overt and covert forms infiltrates social work via three `orientations' to linguistic diversity: language as a problem; language as a right; and language as a resource. The utility of this framework for viewing linguistic diversity in social work is explored with reference to an exploratory study that canvassed the views of overseas-born bilingual social workers practising in Australia.
• Findings: The participants strongly identified with a problem orientation to language, where a lack of English constitutes a significant barrier to participating in the social, economic and political domains. While a rights orientation to language was endorsed, it was seen to have limitations in terms of the inadequacies of legislation for challenging `monolingual' language attitudes. All informants supported a resource orientation to language, but claimed that linguistic diversity is often devalued in English-dominant locations.
• Applications : Rather than privileging one particular lens on language, the study concludes that a flexible framework that allows for movement between different language orientations is necessary given the context-dependent nature of language use.
• Summary: Over the past two decades, research on social work practice has experienced substantial growth in the United States, indicated by both the establishment of the Society for Social Work Research in 1994 and increased funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Recently, this growth has carried an increasing emphasis on research to establish the evidence base for social work practice and an emphasis on understanding dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions or practice models in usual care settings within service systems that have historic and professional linkages to the social work discipline, such as child welfare and mental health.
• Findings: This article illustrates this growth and emphases on evidence-based practice in the social work research areas, child abuse and neglect, child welfare and child mental health through the two-decade experience of a large-scale and multi-disciplinary research center in San Diego County, California, the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center (CASRC). Evidence for understanding and improving care in these two service systems served by social work practice has been developed through center studies of clinical epidemiology, mental health services, effectiveness of evidence-based interventions, and the dissemination and implementation of these interventions in usual care settings.
• Applications: This evolving research agenda was shown to be well linked to the NIH Roadmap initiative and highly competitive for NIH funding.
• Summary: This article aims to examine the diverse health needs of Chinese people in Britain and explore how the understanding of this diversity contributes to the development of culturally sensitive services. Two arguments are highlighted. First, it is undoubtedly insensitive to impose mainstream health services on ethnic minority groups, such as Chinese people in Britain, as it neglects to accommodate the heritage that they want to uphold. Second, it may be equally insensitive to take for granted the fact that all members of ethnic minority groups prefer to organize their health according to their heritage.
• Findings: A better understanding of the diverse preferences for health services of ethnic minority groups in general and Chinese people’s in particular would help health professionals to organize and deliver their services in a more culturally sensitive manner. The article has three main parts. The first part examines the importance of cultural sensitivity practices in health services. The second part explores the diverse health needs of Chinese people in Britain. The last part introduces two analytical tools, namely the culturagram and Titterton’s paradigm for welfare.
• Applications: By applying these tools to four cases, the discussion shows how they contribute to the understanding of the diverse health needs of Chinese people and the development of culturally sensitive services.
• Summary: The new mental health care delivery system in the USA strives to provide efficient quality care at a lower cost. This cost-effective approach and focus on short-term treatment modalities and measurable outcomes has created new challenges especially for those who work with clients with severe mental illness. This study explores the relationships between workplace conditions, role stress, burnout, and intent to quit. The direct and indirect effects of role stress on emotional exhaustion and emotional exhaustion on intent to quit are illuminated in order to better understand the complex process of becoming stressed and disillusioned with one’s work.
• Findings: The results support the author’s expectations that role stress mediates the association between workplace variables and emotional exhaustion; and that emotional exhaustion mediates the association between role stress and intent to quit.
• Applications: These results indicate that agencies and social work schools need to prepare students and new workers for the realistic aspects of mental health work, and provide them with the necessary skills required in order to balance the financial and the clinical aspects of mental health work. Supervisory support, peer support groups, and in-service training should also be considered as important interventions that can reduce workers burnout and its negative consequences.
Parent support needs and family support service (FSS) outcomes were investigated. A total of 923 parent participants were recruited through 20 community-based FSS providers in Alberta, Canada. Participants completed a survey, incorporating well validated child, parent and family outcome measures, a minimum of 8–12 weeks after utilizing their FSS.
Overall, parent need satisfaction was high. However, low socio-economic status, English as a second language, parental disability or chronic health condition, and child disability or chronic health condition were associated with lower levels of parent need satisfaction. Higher levels of need satisfaction were linked to lower levels of parenting stress and more positive parent–child interactions. These, in turn, were linked to more positive family functioning and fewer child difficulties.
Mediation analysis and qualitative findings suggest that family support services are making a positive difference by creating points of ‘connection’, including opportunities for informal learning and peer-support. We argue that the informal, ‘social networking’ role of family support services should be valued alongside evidence-based parenting training programs.