Spirituality and Social Work (Contemporary Social Work Studies)

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9780754677345: Spirituality and Social Work (Contemporary Social Work Studies)

For much of the twentieth century, professional social work sought to distance itself from its religious origins with the consequence being that the role of spirituality in the lives of service users tended to be sidelined. Yet it is clear that many people begin to explore their spirituality precisely at times when they are trying to make sense of difficult life circumstances or experiences and may come into contact with social workers. In recent years, there has been an increasing understanding that in order to be relevant to the lives of people they work with, social workers need to go beyond their material needs, but there is little understanding of how spirituality can be sensitively incorporated into practice, especially when either practitioners or service users have no religious affiliation or there is no shared religious background. In this pathbreaking volume Beth Crisp offers social workers ideas of beginning conversations in which spiritual values and beliefs may surface, allowing service users to respond from their own framework and to begin to discuss the specific religious or spiritual practices and beliefs which are important to them. She considers spirituality in the context of lived experience, a perspective that she argues breaks down any mystique and suspicion of explicitly religious language by focusing on language and experiences with which most people can identify. Such a framework allows exploration of issues that emerge at different stages in the lifespan, both by persons who are religious and those who do not identify with any formal religion. Most literature on spirituality within social work refers to the elderly, to those who are sick or have been bereaved, yet, as Crisp points out, spirituality is important for people of all ages and not just at seemingly exceptional moments.

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About the Author:

Beth R. Crisp is currently Associate Professor of Social Work at Deakin University in Australia. She was previously Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Glasgow. Her previous publications include Learning and Teaching in Social Work Education: Assessment (2003) and Learning and Teaching in Social Work Education: Textbooks and Frameworks on Assessment (2005), both co-authored with Mark R. Anderson, Joan Orme and Pam Green Lister, published by Policy Press on behalf of the Social Care Institute for Excellence as key resources for social work educators. She has published articles on spirituality in journals including The Way and Theology and Sexuality.

Review:

'Social workers could do no better than explore questions of meaning and reconsider what is important in their professional lives at this time by engaging with Beth Crisp's "lived-experience" approach and its demystification of spirituality in social work. Crisp effectively convinces that spirituality is a valid and enriching area of exploration for social work.' Mel Gray, University of Newcastle, Australia 'Spirituality and Social Work is a very valuable resource for introducing people to the many ways that spirituality is part of our lives. In particular, it will be very relevant for students as the focus on everyday experiences and activities, and life stages discusses spirituality and diverse views without jargon and religious overtones. While referencing the potential relationships between spiritualities and religions, this book will be refreshing for those who are interested in spirituality but do not identify with a particular religion, and for all who wish to explore the potential of spirituality in everyday life. The absence of language loaded with baggage lends this book nicely as an easier introduction for those who are alienated from religion/spirituality and as a door opener for those on pre-determined paths. As I read through chapters I developed new insights and new understandings of commonly used terms, and I appreciated the discussions of how spirituality might be manifested at different stages and at different places in life's journey. It is a welcome and important contribution to the literature of spirituality and social work, and I see it as a valuable introductory text for students and people interested in exploring the many diverse ways that spirituality is present in our lives.' John Coates, St. Thomas University, and Canadian Society for Spirituality and Social Work, Canada 'It is worth noting that Crisp draws extensively on a variety of sources in the literature, frequently citing material from this journal and many familiar voices in the field of children and adolescent spirituality... Overall this is a useful book that brings attention to how spirituality can be included in the day-to-day work of social care practice. It is potentially a valuable resource for practitioners who do social care work in a range of settings and it challenges the assumption that spirituality does not have a place in social care work, but can be an asset in practice for practitioners and a means of care and support for children, youth, adults or families who experience difficulty.' International Journal of Children's Spirituality 'Spirituality and Social Work gives an illuminative picture, in the present postsecular situation, of how the borderlines between religion and the secular are fracturing. Thus, besides being valuable reading for students of social work, the book provides the scholar of religion with a good case on the active and creative use of religion in the public sector in contemporary society.' Journal of Contemporary Religion 'Many social workers will enjoy reading this book and will learn much from it that will assist them in understanding and responding appropriately to both service users and colleagues. It is a book that tells the reader much about spirituality and the changing impact of strivings for spiritual fulfilment during the life course.' British Journal of Social Work 'Spirituality and Social Work represents an easily accessible overview of the role of spirituality in social work that approaches the topic from a somewhat different lens than previous authors. Exploration of the areas in the "lived experience" section is particularly refreshing and could stimulate thought about more creative and indirect ways to address spirituality with service users. Overall, the book will be helpful to a reader new to this field...' Journal of Church and State 'Crisp has approached the topic in a fresh and thoughtful way... It is challenging, practical and engaging. I think practitioners will find it helpful in renewing their energy for social work, while students and service users may be receptive to the insights Crisp offers.' Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work '... well written, widely referenced and informative... This is a well-observed and helpful book which will be of relevance to a range of readers - not least social workers who are seeking an introduction to a challenging and fluid subject area. Equally, those readers with teaching responsibilities, such as academic staff and Practice Educators, will also gain both learning materials and insight from this book. It may also be useful background reading for Post Qualifying courses where issues of belief, identity or spirituality are of significance...' Practice: Social Work in Action 'The issue of spirituality and social work is interesting, important, but always complicated. The historical tension between social work and religion, sometimes for good reasons, has made the introduction of the more broad category of 'spirituality' complex and sometimes combative. However, the human experiences that are articulated by religion and spirituality remain of fundamental importance for people encountering difficult issues across the lifespan. As such, they should be important for social workers. Beth Crisp's book speaks with clarity and wisdom, offering important insights into the theory and practice of spirituality within a social work context... This is a very useful text which is theoretically fascinating and creatively practical. As such, it deserves to be taken seriously and to be read by a broad range of professionals engaged in the ongoing quest for genuinely whole person care.' Modern Believing

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