Elder abuse is now recognized internationally as a social problem among the aging population. Intentional abuse, neglect, and exploitation among caregivers to frail and isolated elderly create serious risks across diverse formal and informal care settings. This field has expanded continuously since the early 1970s. Accurate prevalence and incidence rates have not been determined. There is a national system of elder victim protection operating within each state. The social work profession is legally mandated to report situations where an elderly person is suspected to be at risk of abuse. Social workers are involved in all aspects of elder abuse prevention and intervention services.
Ruth J. Parsons and Jean East
The concept of empowerment has deep roots in social work practice. Building upon the work of empowerment theorists of the 1980s and 1990s and applied broadly in the 2000s [Itzhaky and York (2000), Social Work Research, 24, 225–234; Travis and Deepak (2011), Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 20, 203–222], the concept of empowerment has evolved from a philosophical level to practice frameworks and methods. Substantial research confirms empowerment outcomes as personal, interpersonal, and sociopolitical. Practice interventions contain both personal and structural dimensions and are accomplished through multilevel interventions. Based on transformation ideology, empowerment is a counter to perceived and objective powerlessness. Social work relationships provide an opportunity for experiencing power and collaboration. Empowerment interventions are often useful with vulnerable populations, such as women and members of stigmatized groups.
Mary E. Rogge
The concept of environmental justice gained currency in the public arena during the latter part of the 20th century. It embodies social work's person-in-environment perspective and dedication to people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and poor. The pursuit of environmental justice engages citizens in local to international struggles for economic resources, health, and well-being, and in struggles for political voice and the realization of civil and human rights.
Tonya Edmond and Karen Lawrence
Since its inception in 1987, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy has been the subject of lively debate and controversy, rigorous research both nationally and internationally, and is now used by licensed practitioners across six continents as an effective treatment of trauma symptoms and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aim of this entry is to provide social work practitioners and researchers with a description of the treatment approach for adults and children, EMDR’s development and theoretical basis, a review of controversial issues, and an overview of the evidence of effectiveness of EMDR across trauma types and populations.
Mikal N. Rasheed and Janice Matthews Rasheed
This entry traces the historical, conceptual, and theoretical development of social work practice with families, beginning with the Charity Organization Society and the Settlement House movement. From the 1920s through the 1950s, social work practice was heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theory. However, emerging theoretical frameworks, including systems and ecological theory from the 1960s and the 1970s, shifted the focus of intervention back to the family. The 1970s saw the development of a proliferation of models for family therapy. The emergence of postmodern, constructivist, narrative and feminist thought has had a more recent influence on social work practice with families. Although these theories and models of family therapy have profoundly influenced direct practice with families, there is a renewed interest in what is described as family-centered social work practice. The theoretical foundation of family-centered practice emphasizes a strengths perspective and an empowerment model of social work practice. This approach represents a broad range of interventions that build linkages between the family and key environmental support systems of diverse, multi-stressed, and at-risk families. During the 2000s, attention has shifted to evidence-based practice (EBP). The focus on EBP has been to provide a source of information for clinicians and families to consider when selecting an appropriate intervention for the presenting problem.
Katharine Briar-Lawson and Toni Naccarato
Over the decades, family services have been one of the overarching features of social work practice, education, and research. Efficacy studies help to reinforce the focus on serving individuals in the contexts of their families and to address intergenerational family systems. Families provide the bulk of services to their members but require tailored resources, effective services, and supports. The growing diversity in families compels more cross-cultural competence, responsive policies, and evidence-based practices. Family service practitioners must increasingly address the social exclusion of many families while integrating economic and employment supports with counseling, skill training, and other interventions.
Margaret Sherrard Sherraden
Financial capability combines the ability to act with the opportunity to act in ways that contribute to financial functioning. As large numbers of people struggle to manage their household finances, financial capability has become increasingly important. Improving financial capability requires financial education and guidance as well as improved access across the life span to appropriate and beneficial financial products and services. Examples of policies that promote financial capability across the life span include Children’s Development Accounts and myRAs, long-term investment vehicles that build financial capability. Social work can play a key role in building financial capability through interventions in households, communities, and policies. However, these contributions require practice and research to develop and test interventions. They also require financial education for social workers.
Maryah Stella Fram
This entry provides an overview of current knowledge and thinking about the nature, causes, and consequences of food insecurity as well as information about the major policies and programs aimed at alleviating food insecurity in the United States. Food insecurity is considered at the nexus of person and environment, with discussion focusing on the biological, psychological, social, and economic factors that are interwoven with people’s access to and utilization of food. The diversity of experiences of food insecurity is addressed, with attention to issues of age, gender, culture, and community context. Finally, implications for social work professionals are suggested.
Michelle Alvarez, Kimberly Zammitt, Laura Strunk, and Kevin Filter
A functional behavioral assessment (FBA) is a set of procedures that are used to assess and identify environmental conditions that predict and maintain behavior FBA is a means to determine the purpose of a person’s behavior and the ways in which the behavior is reinforced in the person’s environment. Underlying the functional assessment of behavior is the assumption that the way one behaves is functionally related to aspects of the environment. This relation is reliable, predictable, and observable, and can thus be assessed by an outside observer. The FBA entails the use of a series of methods to determine the variables that contextualize a behavior of interest. Contextual variables can include any aspect of the individual’s environment and are usually separated temporally between those factors that occur before a behavior and those which occur after. The latter are termed consequences and the former are typically referred to as antecedents. Usually, the behaviors under study, especially in applied settings, are called target behaviors. Temporally, these factors are conceptualized in an ABC framework: antecedent, behavior, and consequence. The behavior of interest is the target of a subsequent intervention; the intervention is informed by the FBA and utilizes the understanding of the behavior’s purpose. Antecedents are altered such that target behaviors are no longer prompted or motivated by environmental conditions, new socially acceptable behaviors are taught that can access the desired reinforcer and replace the target behavior, and reinforcers are altered to decrease access when the target behavior occurs and increase access when the replacement behavior occurs. FBAs are frequently used in schools to address problem behaviors. Problem behaviors occur with students in the school setting for many different reasons. Research has determined that the use of FBAs is useful in identifying environmental factors that predict and maintain problem behaviors. The use of FBAs in the school setting has proven to increase positive student outcomes. This article demonstrates how FBAs can be used effectively in different settings.
Robert L. Miller Jr.
This chapter explores salient concepts of social work practice with gay men. These concepts are described within a life cycle context. The illuminated concepts have been identified based on the biopsychosocial and spiritual developments in the social work literature related to this population since the printing of the 19th edition of the Encyclopedia of Social Work.