Drawing on qualitative data, this article attempts to clarify the language of spirituality as used in relation to addiction and recovery. It explores what is meant by ‘spirituality’ in the context of 12-step programmes followed in the numerous anonymous mutual help groups which address the problem of addiction to a variety of substances and behaviours, and raises some of the most frequently cited problems with a ‘spiritual’ approach. It argues that wariness on the part of social workers (and other professionals) of 12-step programmes on grounds of their religious/spiritual dimension may benefit from reconsideration. It also suggests that social workers might be informed and empowered to support those individuals and families who chose to seek recovery through the 12 steps.
Historically, spirituality has shared a tenuous position with social work. Scholarship underpinning its relevance to client well-being and anti-oppressive practice has proliferated, entrenching its niche in education. In South Africa, very little empirical work exists except for a survey with final year social work students. This article presents findings made with a national survey of academics: 66 educators from 16 universities participated indicating positive views on spirituality in education and practice in South Africa.
This article presents an approach to resolving religious and sexuality based schism amongst UK social work students. It explores how this classroom schism mirrored current religion and sexuality based tensions in wider society including social work education and social work services. It also identifies the challenges involved in attempting to resolve such a schism. A teaching model is proposed that examines the limits of any claims to anti-discriminatory practice; that clarifies what is and what is not a social work task in relation to religious texts; and the risks involved for each side of the schism.
This article considers Gandhian social work in relation to spirituality and as carried out by Muriel and Doris Lester, two British social workers from the first half of the 20th century. Following a brief literature review the article focuses on how examples from the lives of these women illustrate Gandhian ideas such as Satyagraha and Swadesh. It emphasizes the spiritual elements in these ideas and their ongoing relevance. A biographical approach is used and contemporary resonances are drawn out. The article emphasizes the importance of narrative for developing contemporary understandings of social work and spirituality.
Focusing mainly on the complex relationship between professional and spiritual values, this article explores the ethical dilemmas faced by social workers in the context of a secular society. It discusses the impact of a secular (or, possibly, post-secular) context on the practice of social work. As a window into the ethical dilemmas that a social worker may face in such a context, specific attention is paid to the professional practice of Christian social workers. A concluding section highlights the main findings and implications of the article.
This article examines the relationship between spirituality and the environment and the changing values required as we move toward a new politics of social work where commitment to social and political involvement is integral to spirituality, most notably surrounding environmental change. The ecospiritual perspective recognizes human interests are inextricably bound with planetary well-being. It serves not only to broaden social work beyond a preoccupation with the social, but also to shift professional thinking away from the pre-eminence of individualism and dualism, and the unquestioned acceptance of progress and uncontrolled growth that make it difficult for social workers to fulfil their role as agents of social and environmental justice.
Some recent commentary on the relevance of religion and spirituality to social work emphasizes a liberal Western individualized notion of spirituality, rather than the significance of formal religion. Evidence from sociological research on religious nurture in British Muslim families challenges this emphasis. Sixty Muslim families from diverse backgrounds in one UK city took part in a qualitative study, consisting of interviews with adults and children aged 12 and under; observation of formal learning and oral and photographic diaries. The article focuses in particular on the importance of religious nurture in Muslim families and parents’ views about ‘spirituality’.
A series of events following the 7 November 2010 election in Burma triggered a large-scale displacement of majority Karen people from eastern Burma to the Thai side of the border. The authors were involved in a research project in which narratives were collected from these people to gain an understanding of the impact of this displacement on their lives. The essentiality of spirituality within their religious belief was a significant theme that arose from the data. This article relates to this theme and highlights the importance of developing culturally competent, spiritually sensitive responses into social work practice when working with people who have experienced displacement and subsequent trauma in their lives.
The roles which faith-based agencies play in social work provision vary between countries. This article provides an overview of social work provision by the Church of Sweden in Sweden and the Catholic Church in Australia and explores how different relationships between faith-based organizations and professional social work practice have emerged in different countries. The article concludes with questions about the role of faith-based agencies which readers can reflect upon in their own contexts.