Journal Article

Spiritual Need and the Core Business of Social Work

Margaret Holloway

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 37, issue 2, pages 265-280
Published in print February 2007 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2006 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Spiritual Need and the Core Business of Social Work

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This paper examines the development of social work practice in spiritual care and the attitudes towards spirituality and religion demonstrated by social workers in the UK, through reflection on key findings from two empirical studies conducted ten years apart. Fieldwork for the first study, conducted by the author, was undertaken from 1990 to 1992 and was the first of its kind to examine the treatment of spirituality in social work practice in the UK. The second study reported in 2004. Comparison of the findings from these two studies showed that the increased sympathy towards ‘spiritual practice’ is not as great in social work as is demonstrated amongst other human services professions, and that there is continuing inhibition and resistance in the UK in social work education in particular. The paper argues that much of the problem for practitioners, even where they identify spiritual need as an issue, lies in the inadequate theorizing and lack of practice guidance developed in the context of UK social work. It concludes by discussing the particular context of mainstream social work practice in the UK and examines how assessment of spiritual need and spiritual interventions might connect with social work’s core business.

Keywords: spirituality; religion; needs assessment; spiritual care; ethnic minorities

Journal Article.  7299 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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