Ramona W. Denby and Allison Bowmer
The notion of culture, while vast, is often conceptualized through an examination of gender, race, and ethnicity; class and economics; religion; sexual orientation; and even age. Culture can be temporal when, for example, gender norms or ethnic patterns evolve with each new generation. Likewise, the formation of a person’s identity (or identities) is largely influenced by culture. The ways in which an individual exhibits meaning and expression through culture can become the building blocks for identity and behavior. Social work assessments and related interventions rest on a fundamental understanding of a client’s history, environment, and current conditions. This entry provides an examination of how particular sociocultural influences and identity development shape behavior and how social work practitioners, whether at the micro, mezzo, or macro level, use this understanding to effect change in individuals or environments.
Janet B. W. Williams
The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association is referred to as DSM-IV. DSM-IV's predecessor, DSM-III, differed considerably from the first two editions. Its innovative incorporation of specified diagnostic criteria and a multiaxial system for evaluation resulted in its having a major impact on the field of mental health.
Frederic G. Reamer
Digital, online, and other electronic technology has transformed the nature of social work practice and education. Contemporary social workers can provide services to clients by using online counseling, telephone counseling, video counseling, cybertherapy (avatar therapy), self-guided Web-based interventions, electronic social networks, e-mail, and text messages. In addition, increasing numbers of social work education programs are using distance education technology to teach students. The introduction of diverse digital, online, and other forms of electronic social services has created a wide range of complex ethical and related risk management issues. This article provides an overview of current technology used in social work; identifies compelling ethical issues; and explores risk-management issues. The author identifies relevant standards from the NASW Code of Ethics and other resources designed to guide practice.
Direct social work practice is the application of social work theory and/or methods to the resolution and prevention of psychosocial problems experienced by individuals, families, and groups. In this article, direct practice is discussed in the context of social work values, empowerment, diversity, and multiculturalism, as well as with attention to client strengths, spirituality, and risk and resilience influences. The challenges of practice evaluation are also considered.
David F. Gillespie
Disasters are a form of collective stress posing an unavoidable threat to people around the world. Disaster losses result from interactions among the natural, social, and built environments, which are becoming increasingly complex. The risk of disaster and people's susceptibility to damage or harm from disasters is represented with the concept of vulnerability. Data from the Indian Ocean tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and genocide in Darfur, Sudan, show poor people suffer disproportionately from disasters. Disaster social work intervenes in the social and built environments to reduce vulnerability and prevent or reduce long-term social, health, and mental health problems from disasters.
Karen Kayser and Jessica K. M. Johnson
This entry presents the demographic trends of divorce and the social changes that have impacted the divorce rate. A cultural perspective of divorce is provided by analyzing divorce in the context of race and gender and across nations. Current explanatory theories of divorce are described. Research on the consequences of divorce on adults and children is presented followed by the practice implications for social workers. Future directions for policy and research are discussed.
Dual degree programs are growing rapidly around the country with increasing numbers of universities offering students an opportunity to earn an M.S.W. along with another degree. While two degrees offer clear benefits to the students and provide revenue to the institutions, they also raise some issues and concerns about the “relative worth” of an M.S.W.
Elizabeth C. Pomeroy and Polly Y. Browning
Eating disorders involve maladaptive eating patterns accompanied by a wide range of physical complications likely to require extensive treatment. In addition, “eating disorders” frequently occur with other mental disorders, such as depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders. The earlier these disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better the chances are for full recovery” (NIMH, 2011). As of 2013, lifetime prevalence rates for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are 0.9%, 1.5%, and 3.5% among females, and 0.3%, 0.5%, and 2.0% among males respectively (Hudson, Hiripi, Pope, & Kessler, 2007). Early diagnosis is imperative; the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that the mortality rate for anorexia is 0.56% per year, one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness, including depression (NIMH, 2006). More recent research (Crow et al., 2009) indicates mortality rates as high as 4.0% for anorexia nervosa, 3.9% for bulimia nervosa and 5.2% for eating disorders not otherwise specified. Current research and treatment options are discussed.
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the two most empirically supported treatments for adult populations with noncombat, single-episode posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with the other being exposure therapy. This entry describes the unconventional origin, theoretical underpinnings, and treatment protocol of EMDR, including its distinctive use of bilateral stimulation (that is, dual-attention stimulation). Also discussed are possible contraindications, unresolved issues, and the need for more research regarding the effectiveness of EMDR with other populations with PTSD, such as children and individuals with combat PTSD and complex trauma.
Sheila H. Akabas
Employee assistance programs (EAPs), or membership assistance programs when sponsored by unions, are designed to improve worker productivity and motivation by responding to problems that workers experience which interfere with job performance and satisfaction. Now a ubiquitous characteristic of American workplaces, the programs are largely staffed by social workers. This entry discusses their historic development, extent, scope, structure, how they are perceived and utilized by different racial and gender populations, and the dilemmas and challenges facing EAPs as they try to define their role, function, and best practices amid emerging trends in the world of work.