Perspectives on Social Work: 2010

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This collection gathers content from two volumes of Perspectives on Social Work published in 2010.


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    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Cummings, Tawana; Patrick, Rhonda; Duron, Jacquelynn; Plowden, Keisha; Ford, Amanda; Rose, Alexis; Hill, Larry E.; Tittsworth, Josephine; LaChappelle, Alicia; Torres, Melissa
    Editorial for volume 10 of Perspectives on Social Work from the editorial board.
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    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Lasky, Elizabeth; Herbert, Jennifer; Houtte, Elizabeth Van; Root, Jennifer L.; Montgomery, Katherine L.; Goldbach, Jeremy T.; Shepard, Lindsay Dianne; Gates, Trevor G.
    This is the full-text volume of Perspectives on Social Work, vol. 9 (Fall 2010).
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    Reflections on Evidence Based Practice Criticisms: Updating Today’s Social Worker
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Shepard, Lindsay Dianne
    As the emphasis on evidence-based practice and evidence-based research in the field of social work continues to grow, it is increasingly pertinent that today’s social worker is well-versed in its on-going debate, its theoretical strengths and limitations, its store of resources, and the state of its current adoption. As such, this essay specifically explores the arguments associated with resistance to and issues of changing to the evidence-based practice model, namely that the field is not prepared in terms of resources for such an overarching paradigm change. This concern is addressed as objectively as possible, acknowledging both the preparation and potential benefits of evidence-based practice, but also the reality of its limitations. Ultimately, this exploration is intended to dissolve misconceptions of the adaptation to evidence-based practice, minimize unnecessary resistance to change, and finally, achieve an increased understanding of the pending limitations of applying evidence-based practice to the field of social work and to social interventions.
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    Empirical and Conceptual Application of Self-Esteem: A Review of the Literature
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Montgomery, Katherine L.; Goldbach, Jeremy T.
    For approximately a century, the topic of self-esteem has been an increasingly popular subject in academic writing and social work practice. This article discusses the findings from a review of 167 articles that either conceptually or empirically explored the topic of self-esteem. Findings indicated that self-esteem is not well operationalized, and its use in literature is inconsistent and ill-defined. A widely accepted definition and conceptualization of self-esteem has not been established; thus, corresponding measurement tools are varied in purpose and definition. Despite recognition of a poorly defined and measured concept, researchers have continued to measure self-esteem and have made causal inferences regarding assessment and intervention strategies. Consequently, this confusion leads to unreliable methods for assessment and intervention. Further research is needed to clarify the definition of self-esteem, create conceptual consensus amongst professionals, and determine more consistent implications for practice and future research.
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    Goal Consensus is More than Just Agreement: Improving Therapeutic Relationships with Women who Experience Intimate Partner Violence
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Root, Jennifer L.
    The working relationship between social workers and women who experience intimate partner violence (IPV) needs to be positive and supportive if we want to create real opportunities to help women be safe. Developing and implementing safety plans with women can be challenging for social workers when there is not shared agreement of what it means to be safe from IPV. The aim of this paper is to explore goal consensus, a common factor recognized as an essential element of the working alliance and therapeutic contract, as a mechanism for optimizing the working relationship between social work practitioners and women who experience IPV. Using Mackrill’s framework the construct of goal consensus will be examined with particular focus on its contribution to better understanding women’s 1) self-worth, 2) isolation and fear, and 3) agency within the context of help-seeking. The author suggests a shift in the current definition of goal consensus may go a long way in creating positive working relationships between social workers and women who experience IPV.
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    Work Should Be a Valid Component of Social Work Intervention
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Houtte, Elizabeth Van
    The most recent financial crisis in America has had a lasting effect on the citizens, institutions and polices of the nation. In their day-to-day interventions with clients, social workers are witness to the clinical effects of this meltdown on individuals, families and communities. Still, the profession sustains a philosophical partition between the clinical interventions it provides and the precipitating factors of the economy. Historically, social work was closely aligned with other professions and institutions for influence of government policies around employment reform and poverty amelioration. Such interest in a direct approach to the effects of economic circumstances on people has waned, in favor of an individualistic view and treatment of social problems. This article reviews the scant literature on this topic and includes comments from previous researchers who suggest that social workers, social work education and social work curricula have studiously avoided issues related to employment policy and the economy. Finally, with the profession of social work being well represented in the current federal administration, the article offers a challenge to the profession to address social justice issues related to unemployment and employment.
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    The Relationship between Social Cohesion and Electronic Aggression: A Theoretical Approach to a Contemporary Social Problem
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Lasky, Elizabeth; Herbert, Jennifer
    The relationship between electronic aggression (cyber-bullying) and adolescents falls at the intersection of two theoretical frameworks: the theory of adolescent development and the theoretical construct of social cohesion. In this article, the discipline of psychology helps to provide information about adolescent development, specifically the significance of group involvement, and the sociological perspective informs about group involvement and social cohesion as a social phenomenon. The marriage of these two theoretical backdrops is instrumental when studying social phenomena in adolescent peer groups. In this paper, social cohesion, viewed in a theoretical context, will compliment developmental theory and will be applied to the study of adolescent electronic aggression.
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    Empowerment and Child Welfare Clients
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Mirick, Rebecca G.
    Empowerment is a key element of social work practice. The NASW Code of Ethics (NASW, 1999) begins with the statement “The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty” (p. 1). Although the Code of Ethics clearly states an obligation on the part of social workers to empower their clients, it does not define this complex concept. A 1994 article in the NASW journal Social Work does define it, saying that empowerment has two parts: (a) personal empowerment, which is similar to self-determination and recognizes the inherent uniqueness of each client, and (b) social empowerment, which acknowledges that individuals cannot be separated from their environment and that people must have access to certain resources to be able to influence that environment (Cowger, 1994).
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    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Mirick, Rebecca G.; Prescott, Dana E.; Eisenberg, Fiona; Moorthi, Gayatri; Damaskos, Penny; Conlon, Annemarie; DeFraia, Gary S.; DeGeer, Ian G.
    This is the full-text volume of Perspectives on Social Work, vol. 8 (Spring 2010).
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    Online Therapy: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Potential Legal Ramifications?
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Damaskos, Penny
    The delivery of psychosocial support though the internet is an area of clinical practice that is becoming increasingly prevalent as clinicians search for innovative ways to reach clients in need of psychosocial support (Banach, 2000; Patrick, 2008; Pollack, 2008). There are many benefits to providing psychotherapeutic services online. Internet-based support groups can reduce isolation and increase access to care for individuals that may have physical limitations or live in remote geographic locations. In some instances, online groups can provide individuals with anonymity as they seek out clinical services for stigmatized conditions such as a cancer diagnosis (Banach; Patrick; Pollack). In addition, online therapy can be an inexpensive way to provide service (both for the provider and client), rendering it an increasingly viable option in an era of increasing financial distress (Banach; Patrick; Pollack).
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    Book Review: Lehmann, P., & Simmons, C. (2009). Strength-based batterer intervention: A new paradigm in ending family violence. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) DeGeer, Ian G.
    Working with men who use violence against their partners is difficult and challenging work. As a field of practice, working with this population is growing and expanding on a continual basis. Historically, the mindset regarding working with men who abuse was quite narrow and there was little hope for change. The medical model would suggest that the prognosis for change was poor. For a long time, and some would suggest this pattern still continues, groups for men who abuse their partners were run along very narrow lines as well. For the past 20 years the primary model of ‘batterer intervention program’ (BIP) was the model developed in Duluth Minnesota. This model involved a mixture of the presentation of psycho-educational material in conjunction with a feminist analysis of violence against women. The Duluth model has remained the centerpiece of many programs throughout the United States and Canada.
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    Reading Women’s Voices: Gendered Experiences of Drug Use in India
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Moorthi, Gayatri
    Substance use amongst women is a growing phenomenon in many parts of India. This small (approximately 1- 2% of 74 million substance users in the country) and hidden population is often stigmatized (United Nations Office of Drug Control [UNODC], Lawyers Collective, 2007). Female drug users are often considered to be ‘doubly deviant,’ deviating not only from social and moral norms as drug users but also from their traditional gendered roles as women (Fagan, 1994). Majority of research on women drug users in India is limited to reporting epidemiological trends. Very little is known about the women’s everyday experiences of drug use. For social workers, insight into this psycho- social-cultural context is critical especially to the development of relevant and sensitive treatment services and responses. With rising rates of HIV among this vulnerable population, it has become even more important to understand women’s risk behavior patterns, perceptions and the gendered context of drug use (UNODC, 2003). This pilot study with women drug users in a residential drug rehabilitation program in New Delhi attempts to address this gap in the literature. The present qualitative project examines how women understand, give meaning to, and narrate their experiences of drug use.
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    Book Review: Epstein, I. (2009). Clinical data mining: Integrating practice and research. New York: Oxford University Press.
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) DeFraia, Gary S.
    Ever since the Flexner Report of 1915, social work has struggled to assert itself as a science-based profession, a struggle that underlies much of the debate between practice-based research and research-based practice (Cha, Kuo, & Marsh, 2006; Gambrill, 2002). It also informs much of the conversation around evidenced-based practice and random controlled trials (RCT) versus other social work practice and methodological approaches (Ginexi & Hilton, 2006; Green & Glasgow, 2006). Irwin Epstein’s latest work, Clinical Data Mining: Integrating Practice and Research, not only continues this important discourse, it does so unapologetically, from the point of view of the social work practitioner.
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    Termination of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship and Women with Social Resources: An Initial Exploration of a Social Problem
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Eisenberg, Fiona
    The prevalence of emotional abuse perpetuated against women with higher education, resources and support systems, is a social problem that has been overlooked in the social work literature. Little is known or documented about college educated women with social resources who experience abuse (Swift, 1997). The complexities behind the question of why some of these women stay in emotionally abusive relationships and others end them remains obscure (Burke, 2001; Crane & Constantino, 2003; Fiore-Lerner, 2000; Ladenburger, 1998) and research about women who have terminated emotionally abusive relationships is limited (Lachkar, 1998). No studies have examined the experiences of emotionally abused women who are not poor and who do decide to end abusive relationships (Weitzman, 2000).
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    Editorial from Perspectives on Social Work Volume 8 (Spring 2010)
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Cummings, Tawana; Delavega, Elena; Ford, Amanda; Flores, David; LaChappelle, Alicia; Patrick, Rhonda; Rose, Alexis; Torres, Melissa; Tittsworth, Josephine
    Editorial for volume 8 of Perspectives on Social Work, by the journal editorial board.
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    Complexity Theory as a Conceptual Construct for Understanding Client Change
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Prescott, Dana E.
    Every “science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement” (Durant, 1926, p. 2). This quote has particular import for the social work profession when considering the historic tensions between the broader pursuit of social justice within a community or organization and the targeted delivery of interventions to individuals, couples, or families (Gerber, 2007; Marx, 2004; Reamer, 1999). A prominent and fundamental feature of the social work profession at either tier, and the gaps between, is the commitment to understanding and effectuating change – a value-laden term that profoundly influences intervention frameworks and strategies, and the measurement of successful or unsuccessful outcomes (Ford & Urban, 1998; Reamer). For the social work profession, the epistemology of evidence-based practice [EBP] is, at its core, the application of systematic forms or structures to the scientific and clinical conceptualization of human change and adaption (Pollio, 2006). E The physical sciences have posited that organic and inorganic systems are never static, but exist on the edge of cooperation and turbulence at every level of adaption and re-organization (Butz, 1997). This phenomenon is identified in the literature as complexity theory, which provides a model for understanding the non-linear process by which diverse systems self-organize. The study and application of complexity theory to individual and organizational systems parallels the emphasis on EBP as a means of deconstructing the intersection between the effectiveness or efficacy of therapeutic interventions, the capacity for client change, and objective measures for that change (Pollio, 2006; Proctor & Rosen, 2008; Witkin & Harrison, 2001). An emphasis on EPB is not without its pitfalls precisely because positivist or reductionist concepts of evidence can potentially draw social workers toward linear cause and effect measures that may become so rigid as to neglect individual or cultural differences (Gambrill, 2007; Kirk & Reid, 2002; Pollio, 2006). For purposes of bridging this gap between intuition and induction or observation and deduction, however, social work educators and practitioners are conceptualizing the emerging science of complexity theory, rooted in biology and physics, as a paradigm for thinking about how individuals and organizations change through ever-evolving interactions and adaptions (Butz, 1997; Byrne, 1998; Halmi, 2003; Stevens & Cox, 2008). Indeed, it is this quest for a theory of what and how institutions and individuals change that has driven the achievements of social work for a century (Aldarondo, 2007; Marx, 2004). The earliest components of the social work tradition, as brokered by Mary Richmond and her contemporaries in the early 20th century, encouraged transformative change in social and political systems, as well as individuals living within these vibrant, adaptive, and chaotic systems (O’Connor, 2001; Tyson, 1995; Wolf-Branigin, 2009). In the clinic and the field, social workers developed and applied theories of change like imaginative sympathy, mindfulness, therapeutic alliance, or some other means of metaphorically describing a moment when the exchange of information thereby transformed an other (Anderson & Gehart, 2007; Castonguay, Constantino, & Holtforth, 2006; Duncan, Miller, Coleman, Kelledy, & Kopp, 2000; Madsen, 1999). What made Richmond’s work so important, however, was that valuing change was not enough. If the social work profession accepts the maxim that theory drives practice then the quest for empirical constructs that reveal and explain patterns of change within and through individual and organizational systems is the foundation for developing more scientific and ethical practices. Thus, professional social workers must understand and observe change within a scientific method that can be articulated and replicated (Padgett, 2009; Pollio, 2006; Tyson, 1995).
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    Identifying Stigma: The Road to Lung Cancer Advocacy
    (University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, 2010) Conlon, Annemarie
    This research uses a grounded theory approach to develop theory on stigma in the lung cancer experience. Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2009 alone, approximately 219,440 people were expected to be diagnosed with this disease; over 159,000 would die (American Cancer Society, 2009). Putting this into perspective, more people die of lung cancer each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer, and melanoma combined. Though progress has been made for other cancers, the prognosis for lung cancer continues to be very poor (Ries et al., 2005) with seventy percent of those newly diagnosed at the advanced stage level (Albert & Samet, 2003). T