Spirituality And Social Work (Part One)

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Spirituality And Social Work (Part One)

  1. 1. Spirituality and Social Work Spirituality resource package aimed primarily at new social workers to provide them with a starting point in regard to traditional spirituality and its role in practice 281890 1
  2. 2. The role of spirituality in social work practice “Whatever practitioners’ own beliefs, experiences and feelings, it is essential to study the implications of spirituality as part of the whole person” (Crompton, 1998 as cited in Henery, 2003) “ • Social work is based on respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people; and the rights that follow from this (GSCC, 2002). • Social workers need to be able to respond appropriately to the needs of all their clients, and are ethically mandated to develop their knowledge of spiritual diversity (Hodge, 2005). • “Culturally competent” practice depends on an understanding and appreciation of the impact of faith and religion (Gilligan and Furness, 2006). Spiritually Sensitive Practice Skills (Client Centeredness) • In such an approach, the social worker comes across as hearing what the person is saying, which is a vital and sometimes underrated quality of direct social work practice. • If one is seeking to create a spiritually sensitive context for practice the need for the skill of client centeredness is especially critical. • So often people are expecting us to not be listening for it. • People are not expecting us to respect that part of them. (R. BOLTON, 1979 as cited in Hewitt and Hewitt, 2007) 281890 2
  3. 3. • Recognition of benefits of This resource package has been designed due to demands from previous research, which highlights the importance of spiritual Spiritual intervention beliefs in the lives of many service users and carers (Gilligan and Furness) and the vital influence these beliefs can have on human behaviour (Hugen and Scales, 2002). • The professions’ lack of attention to spiritual diversity may be affecting its ability to provide effective services to clients (Hodge, 2005) • Research from the US demonstrates how social work students commonly report that, in their mainstream social work practice, they are frequently work with clients who have spiritual beliefs. However, they had not received any training in these issues • The section 104 Charitable Choice provision of the 1996 welfare reform legislation enabled religious leaving them unequipped to deal with them in a professional social organisations to receive government funding for the work context (Nash and Stewart, 2002). delivery of social services (Center for Public Justice, 1999) • Research indicates that many clients desire to integrate their •The Central Council for Education and Training in spiritual strengths into therapeutic settings (Bart, 1998 as cited in Social Work (CCETSW) has recogised the importance Hodge, 2005). of training material available to social workers in handling spiritual issues and working with people with a faith background, by providing a training pack on • Furthermore, support is growing for these therapeutic interventions children and spirituality (Bowpitt, 2000). that actively utilise clients spiritual beliefs and practices as •The Council of Social Work Education already includes therapeutic tools (Bergin, 1980 as cited in Harris et al, 1999) spirituality as one aspect of clients lives to which social workers are to be sensitive to and knowledgeable about (Abels, 2000), however, contradictory to • These spiritual dimensions embrace a holistic conception of the this, the BASW code and the General Social Care person, recently recognised as the bio-psycho-social-spiritual Council (2002) code of practice excludes any mention perspective. This perspective reintroduces spiritual issues as a of spirituality (Gilligan and Furness, 2006). legitimate focus for social work practice, leading to development of •In the Practice Guidance associated with the new theoretical frameworks and practice models, such as Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need assessment tools and intervention strategies (Hugen and and their Families (DOH, 2000), it is emphasised that Scales, 2002). “spirituality is an issue for all families” (Gilligan and Furness, 2006). 281890 3
  4. 4. Common Spiritual Interventions “Traumatic events shatter our sense of an orderly world where human interactions proceed along agreed-upon lines. It is often as a result of these events, that people turn to spirituality as a means of finding solace” (Wilcke, 2002) • Spiritual values and beliefs can be powerful forces that clients draw upon when faced with traumas that they need to overcome (Baskin, 2002 as cited in Wilcke, 2002). Just by listening to their clients recount their experiences and opening up a dialogue about the spiritual strengths they perceive as helpful to them, social workers can assist them in empowering themselves to face the challenges in their lives with stronger resources (Wilcke, 2002) • Tools for spiritually sensitive practice (as took from Human Behaviour Theory and Social Work Practice) • Harris et al (1999) identified a number of spiritually orientated health intervention, including 1. Adapted cognitive behavioural interventions 2. Meditation 3. 12 – step fellowships 4. Forgiveness interventions 5. Prayer Gilligan and Furness (date) found that national intervention trends including “praying or mediating with clients”; recommending participation in spiritual programmes or referring them to a spiritual counsellor. Matthews (2009) when speaking about spiritual activities bringing change to fractured communities emphasised a more informal approach to intervention, but still carried a spiritual basis such as the use of art. He states how the use of art can be a creative process which is often undertook in the presence of other people, and is frequently seen as having therapeutic value. Again, many studies have demonstrated that music can be therapeutic and has a number of positive effects on peoples psychological,, physical and emotional well-being (Stacy et al, 2002 as cited in Matthews, 2009). The interventions mentioned above are just a general overview of common ones used, however, the intervention used always depends on the service user’s spiritual nature. Social work in modern society requires practitioners to be culturally and spiritually sensitive (Matthews, 2009), as reflected in the Council of Social Work Education, which includes spirituality as one aspect of the clients lives to which social workers are expected to be sensitive to and have knowledge about 281890 4 (Abels, 2000).

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