Journal Article

The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Practice: Views and Experiences of Social Workers and Students

Philip Gilligan and Sheila Furness

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 36, issue 4, pages 617-637
Published in print June 2006 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online October 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch252
The Role of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Practice: Views and Experiences of Social Workers and Students

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Findings from surveys of qualified social work practitioners and students indicate a need for social work education and practice to focus attention both on the importance of religious and spiritual beliefs in the lives of many service users and on the potential usefulness of religious and spiritual interventions. In this British study, undertaken in 2003 and 2004, students were less likely than their qualified colleagues to consider religious or spiritually sensitive interventions as appropriate. Attitudes varied little between those students who held religious beliefs and those who did not, but Muslim students and qualified social workers were more likely to view these types of interventions as appropriate. The authors conclude that there is a clear need for all social work practitioners and educators to give greater priority to exploring the potential significance of religious and spiritual beliefs in their training, in their professional practice and in the lives and perspectives of service users and colleagues. Social workers need to be able to respond appropriately to the needs of all service users, including those for whom religious and spiritual beliefs are crucial. ‘Culturally competent’ practice depends, amongst other things, on an understanding and appreciation of the impact of faith and belief.

Keywords: religion; spirituality; social work; cultural competence; sensitive interventions

Journal Article.  9347 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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