Spirituality Matters in Social Work : Connecting Spirituality, Religion, and Practice book cover
1st Edition

Spirituality Matters in Social Work
Connecting Spirituality, Religion, and Practice

ISBN 9780415747042
Published February 25, 2016 by Routledge
380 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Offering a focus that is lacking (or not clearly evident) in most spirituality books, Dudley addresses specific ways of incorporating spirituality into practice and integrates many of the contributions of other writers into an overall eclectic practice approach. His approach revolves around many of the core competencies of the EPAS accreditation (CSWE, 2008). Most of the core competencies are addressed with an emphasis on professional identity, ethical practice, critical thinking, diversity, practice contexts, and, a major practice framework of the book, the practice stages of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents Overview of Spirituality and Social Work Overview of the changing landscape of religions in the United States Comparing social workers and the public on religiosity Implications of "being where the client is." Spirituality and religion introduced and distinguished Social work’s rediscovering of spirituality Numerous meanings associated with spirituality Spirituality as a macro and micro concept Introduction to a set of spiritual competencies Affirming Our Own Spirituality Stress reduction, self-care, and spiritually Embracing mindfulness Reflecting on our motives for becoming social workers Expressing our spirituality in the helping role Stages of spiritual and faith development Addressing personal ethical dilemmas and conflicts Political correctness about spirituality Understanding the Spirituality of our Clients A vast array of spiritual and religious backgrounds How can we be informed about so many groups? A framework for finding out the basics Developing an ecumenical perspective and spirit Delving more deeply into the backgrounds of our clients Diversity and the Spirituality of our Clients Taking seriously the spirituality of children and youth Keen interest of older adults in spirituality Recent immigrants and spirituality Working with Latinos in the Pentecostal and Catholic Traditions Working with Islamic Clients Working with Hindu Clients The Ethics of Being Client-Centered Spirituality and the NASW Code of Ethics Spirituality and Social Work Accreditation Encounters with different kinds of ethical problems Reproductive rights and abortion LGBT issues Death penalty Domestic relationships and violence Christian Privilege in the United States Preparing for Client Contact in a Spiritually-Sensitive Ways Finding prior quiet time Tuning into our deeper spiritual self with Mindfulness Tuning into the client’s spiritual issues The Zen of helping perspective Initial ethical cautions Step One: Initial Engagement of Spiritual Issues Bringing spirituality into initial discussions Forging a spiritually-sensitive relationship Personal obstacles to deeper explorations Deeper exploration in engagement Step Two: Assessing Spiritual Issues What are we trying to assess? Non-religious spiritual assessments Religious spiritual assessments Assessment with special groups of clients Step Three: Introducing Spiritual Interventions A broad range of spiritual interventions How we can use some of these interventions Step Three: Integrating Spirituality into Other Approaches Person-Centered approach Cognitive Behavioral approach DBT and Mindfulness Meditation Narrative Approach Solution-focused Existential Step Four: Evaluating Spiritual Progress Periodic explorations Client’s satisfaction inquiries Assessing progress on the client’s spiritual development Strategies for establishing evidence-based practice The Future for Spirituality and Social Work Preparing for a future of even greater diversity in the population Challenges ahead for social work and other helping professions Addressing the ongoing resistance to inclusion of spirituality into professional education Recommendations for social work education in meeting the challenges of the future

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James (Jim) Dudley has been involved in spirituality activities and their role in social work practice for many years. Besides teaching numerous Spirituality and Social Work courses at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, he has also conducted research and published on the topic, as well as led several retreats and workshops. He has a Master’s Degree in Spirituality Studies and has completed training in spiritual direction. He also has an MSW Degree and Ph.D. in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in North Carolina.


Dr. Jim Dudley’s Spirituality Matters in Social Work is a welcome addition to the growing number of books and articles in the social work literature focused on preparing social workers to effectively engage spiritual and religious issues in the helping process when they are important to helping their clients. Dr. Dudley’s book explores, in depth, key elements of ethical, spiritually-sensitive social work approaches and strategies in terms of engagement, spiritual assessment, interventions and evaluation. More than most, his book pays attention to the integration of spirituality and religion at micro, mezzo, and macro levels of intervention, as well as the important question of how to determine the effectiveness and impact of spiritually-sensitive programs and practice on the clients it serves.

--Rick Chamiec-Case, North American Association of Christians in Social Work


There is a compelling need for clinical guidance concerning the complex issues of spirituality and religion in social work practice. Preparing students through spiritual self-exploration, engagement, assessment, intervention, and even the little considered but essential area of evaluation, this text offers valuable knowledge in an accessible format. It is both wise and wonderful.

–Holly Nelson-Becker, Loyola University Chicago

Fantastic… Dudley not only educates social workers on the integration of clients’ religion and spirituality, but also creates opportunities for the reader to explore his/her personal spiritual beliefs as they relate to practice. This balance of providing content with practicing self-awareness is critical in any helping profession. This book includes practical methods for learning about others’ religious beliefs, maintaining a spiritually-sensitive approach to practice, and identifying assessment tools and spiritual interventions at both the micro and macro levels. I highly recommend this text for both students and practitioners in social work and related helping professions.

--Holly Oxhandler, Baylor University

For far too long, spirituality was neglected in social work and yet it may be a major source of strength for the clients that our students will serve. The focus on spirituality and multiple levels of practice can help students understand the place of spirituality in all levels of practice. I believe this text will benefit both BSW and MSSW students including those who consider themselves to be spiritual and those who do not.

--Melody Loya, West Texas A&M University