Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations

Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations

Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations

Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable and Resilient Populations

Synopsis

Why do some people collapse under certain life conditions, while others remain relatively unscathed? What accounts for the marked variations in people's responses to stress and adversity? The second edition of this groundbreaking how-to guide has been extensively updated to reflect the field's growing understanding of the importance of resiliency and protective factors -- the positive poles of the human experience -- and the importance of their role in forming balanced assessments and responsive interventions. Individual chapters explore such problems as AIDS, chronic physical illness, depression, addiction, homelessness, divorce, and abuse. This new edition goes beyond the pathology explanatory model to stress such factors as courage, coping, and resourcefulness, and includes new chapters on such topics as crime victims and victim services, the death of a parent, gay and lesbian persons, single parenthood, and women of color.

Excerpt

The Handbook of Social Work Practice with Vulnerable Populations, published in 1991, focused on the debilitating circumstances and suffering faced by large sectors of our client population. Wherever social workers practice, they deal with people who are overwhelmed or burdened by stressful life conditions, circumstances, and events. The problems are stressful because they are either chronic and persistent, or they are acute and unexpected. They are frequently exacerbated by an individual's lack of internal resources or external supports or both. When these factors are present, social workers help people at risk of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social deterioration.

To respond to contemporary social realities and conditions, most social work schools have assumed a broad ecosystems perspective to reflect the complex relations between people and their environments. This perspective provides the bases for conceptualizing and teaching various professional methods (e.g., advocating, mediating) and integrated and generalist practice (e.g., individual, family, group, community). Several widely used social work texts conceptualize and illustrate this perspective. Though providing generic and generalist knowledge and skills, they waver in the specialized knowledge required to help the most severely vulnerable and powerless populations.

The Handbook met a significant need by providing specialized knowledge, methods, and skills. It was positively reviewed and adopted by advanced clinical and generalist programs. After the book's publication, I had a serious concern. Namely, the Handbook did not describe how people survive and cope with such debilitating problems as hunger, homelessness, AIDS, family and community violence, and traumatic losses or vulnerabilities such as the consequences of mental illness, developmental difficulties, imprisonment, or job loss. Since many of our theoretical approaches focus on individual pathology, other dimensions of the human experience . . .

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