Journal of Social Work Explores Crisis Response and Client Collaboration

Social work research and social work practice need to be linked together for the improvement of the profession, suggest several authors in the current issue of the NASW Press flagship journal Social Work.  Many believe that mutual collaborations between practitioners and researchers can ensure best services for social work clients.

“Without the practice community, social work research loses much of its value and usefulness,” write Rowena Fong, PhD, and Elizabeth C. Pomeroy, PhD, LCSW, ACSW, in an editorial.  “By the same token, social work practitioners must depend on researchers to provide the most effective, up-to-date interventions possible to have the best chance for successfully intervening with their clients. 

The January 2011 issue of Social Work includes:

  • The Promise and Challenge of Practice–Research Collaborations: Guiding Principles and Strategies for Initiating, Designing, and Implementing Program Evaluation Research, by Mary Secret, Melissa L. Abell, and Trey Berlin—Researchers need to acknowledge the wisdom that practitioners bring to the table, because this expertise is critical to the implementation of the research design. Practitioners also need to embrace the capacity of evaluation to affect practice.
  • Alcohol Treatment and Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy: Enhancing Effectiveness by Incorporating Spirituality and Religion, by David R. Hodge—Research suggests that spiritually modified cognitive-behavioral therapy may lead to faster recovery, enhanced treatment compliance, lower levels of relapse and reduced treatment disparities among clients who are spiritually motivated, but in order to be effective the practitioner must be cognizant of the client's particular spiritual practice.
  • Reconciling Paternalism and Empowerment in Clinical Practice: An Intersubjective Perspective, by Cassandra L. Bransford—This article explains the differences between “paternalistic” and “empowerment” approaches to social work practice, and argues for an integrated method, which allows the social worker to practice caring for the client, while building the client’s ability to resist oppressive influences and situations. 
  • Client Participation in Managing Social Work Service—An Unfinished Quest, by Terry T. F. Leung—The writer calls for social workers to let go of some of their professional pride in order to transcend the usual professional boundaries so that they can incorporate more client input and autonomy into the service process.
  • Saving Our Criminal Justice System: The Efficacy of a Collaborative Social Service, by Hide Yamatani and Solveig Spjeldnes—The writers recommend more collaborative-based, in-jail services coupled with post-release transitional services in order to reduce recidivism rates among former inmates.
  • Stressful Encounters with Social Work Clients: A Descriptive Account Based on Critical Incidents, by Riki Savaya, Fiona Gardner, and Dorit Stange—This article argues for better training of social workers for high stress situations and critical incidents.  Social workers need skills to constantly handle these difficult situations, and to recover from them quickly.
  • Best Practices in Wraparound: A Multidimensional View of the Evidence, by Uta M. Walter, Christopher G. Petr—According to the authors, the wraparound method—a practice that involves collaboration between family and community members to assist children with severe emotional disturbances—is enhanced by adding a social justice perspective.
  • Crisis Intervention by Social Workers in Fire Departments: An Innovative Role for Social Workers, by Joanne Cacciatore, Bonnie Carlson, Elizabeth Michaelis, Barbara Klimek, Sara Steffan—Social workers have been placed in crisis response teams, such as fire departments, for several years, but recently their role has expanded. Social workers not only assist firemen and other first responders, they also assist those who have been helped and/or rescued by them.
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