The Caribbean is a multiethnic, multilingual archipelago of island and mainland territories, with similar experiences of European colonialism and modern-day globalization. Inequality poses a greater challenge than poverty in most countries. Although most diseases associated with underdevelopment have been eradicated or controlled, life-style diseases are on the increase and the region is second only to sub-Saharan Africa in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS. Social service provisioning is modeled on the traditional welfare state approach, although few countries achieve universal levels of service. Social work is well established particularly in the English-speaking countries.
The social, political, and economic features of Central America are summarized and the impact of economic and political processes on the region is highlighted. Predominant global, historical, cultural, and political events are weaved together, in an attempt to understand the realities of the region. The challenges for social work profession and practice are presented, as well as their implications for new approaches to intervention and education.
David N. Jones
Europe includes not only some of the most economically and socially developed countries in the world but also some of the poorest. Social work as a profession has been well established for over 100 years within a variety of social welfare models; the countries in Central and Eastern Europe have reestablished social work since the 1990s. The financial crisis of 2007/2008 and its aftermath had a significant impact on the resources available for social services and social work in most countries and has provoked a reevaluation of the European social model.
John R. Graham and Alean Al-Krenawi
North African and Middle Eastern nations have an 80-year history with social work, based on colonial, imported models of practice. There is some success in localizing social work to immediate communities. Social welfare tends to be instrumental, selective, and not comprehensive. Colonialism has hurt political institutions; and geopolitical conflicts, socioeconomic inequality, poverty, and political repression also influence parameters of social work and social change.
North America is one of the world's richest regions, and both the United States and Canada are ranked in the top 10 of the United Nations Human Development Index. However, poverty and inequality, and in particular, child poverty continues to be a significant problem. Social workers in both countries provide a wide array of human services to a range of populations. Social work has developed into a mature profession but is currently struggling to meet the increasing demand for its services.
South America, a land of beauty, diversity, and socioeconomic disparity, is going through a profound identity search, redefining the government's role concerning the welfare of its people, and most important, reevaluating its relationship with the Global North. Within this context, social work has a strong commitment to work with the most vulnerable sectors of the population affected by structural adjustment programs.
Lynne M. Healy
This article presents an overview of definitions of international social work, relevant theories, the history of the field, and current practice roles. Definitional debates and critiques of international social work are discussed, as the term international social work has been a contested one. Scholars have defined international social work variously as a specialized area of practice, as the integrated global profession, as the exchange of people and ideas across borders, and as a more general perspective or worldview. The concluding section highlights some of the current challenges facing the field: developing relevant career tracks in international social work, strengthening representation of the profession at the global level, specifying the universal elements of social work, and continuing to clarify the concept of international social work.
Nina L. Aronoff
This is an overview of interprofessional and partnered practice and how these are connected to and further the purposes of social work practice. This brief summary locates several models of collaborative practice in social work and also delineates the ways in which partnered practice provides an overarching paradigm that includes and also extends these approaches, describing a philosophy of practice that speaks to today's imperatives for change in the world.
Peter De Jong
Social work interviews are purposeful conversations between practitioners and clients, involving verbal and nonverbal communication. The basic skills are regularly used by social workers and reflect the field's major practice principles and the model of change employed by the practitioner. Competency-based forms of interviewing such as motivational and solution-focused interviewing are increasingly being used in direct and indirect practice. Additional research is needed on the outcomes of specific interviewing skills and how they are learned and transferred into practice.
James Woolever and Jim Kelly
The study of leadership has a long history in disciplines outside of social work. Theorists have struggled with a myriad of definitions of leadership, as well as trait, behavioral, and situational leadership models. They have identified leadership types from transformational and charismatic to motivational. There has been much speculation and some study of the traits and characteristics of effective leaders, as well as effective leadership styles, abilities, and practices. Social-work theorists have contributed to this field by identifying the critical and unique characteristics of social-work leadership, such as adherence to social-work norms and orientation to the needs of disadvantaged groups. In the early 21st century, social workers have begun to elaborate technologies for creating tomorrow’s leaders through practices such as formal training, mentoring, and peer networking. There has always been, and will be, a critical need for leadership in social-work endeavors. Leadership development can be viewed from two perspectives: the individual and organizational. From the individual perspective, the system begins with a critical assessment of the individual’s strengths and limitations, along with the opportunities and threats for professional growth. Ultimately, the organization is responsible for providing resources to enable individual development. The long-term goal is to implement a developmental mind-set throughout the organization. Leadership development must be intended for all employees, not just a select few. Both individual and organizational job performance are ultimately dependent on the leadership developmental structures embedded within each organizational unit. The issue at hand is designing and delivering leadership development programs that meet the leadership requirements for today’s complex, yet changing organizations.