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A Conversation About the Place of Spirituality in Social Work

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“There are social workers … that declare that spirituality is a vital part of human development. My question there is, I cannot think of, off the top of my head, any other component of human behavior and human development that we accept simply by declaration.”

Edward H. Taylor

Social work’s historical origins are intertwined with spiritual leanings, followed by a more secular approach as the field “professionalized.” More recently, it is easy to find plenty of support for infusing spirituality in social work education and practice.

But, what is spirituality? What’s religion? Is spirituality always correlated with positive health and well-being?

In this episode, our guest, Edward Taylor, PhD, opens a conversation about the place of spirituality in social work practice and education. He addresses potential ethical issues and asks if spirituality, as defined by social work and popular culture, is a fundamental aspect of human development. Taylor suggests that the profession would benefit from adopting an evidence-based concept of spirituality and establishing accountability standards for its application.

Edward H. Taylor, PhD, MSW, is an associate professor, mental health clinician, researcher and former director of the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBC). He is currently on research sabbatical. Among a variety of former appointments, Taylor previously served as director for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) School of Social Work’s Mental Health Resource Program, where he held a joint appointment at the UNC School of Medicine. Taylor also served as chief of social work for the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Neurosciences Hospital. Notably, Taylor is the only social worker to have served as associate chief of the NIMH Intramural Neuropsychiatric Research Branch. Taylor may be best known for his research contributions to pediatric and adult mental health research, as one of the four primary researchers who conducted the most extensive identical twin study to date on biopsychosocial development for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This NIMH-sponsored research resulted in the book, Schizophrenia, and Manic Depressive Disorder: The Biological Roots of Mental Illness as Revealed by the Landmark Study of Identical Twins (1994, Torrey, Bowler, Taylor, & Gottesman).

Show Notes

Cite this podcast – Sobota, P. (Host). (2024, June 18). A Conversation About the Place of Spirituality in Social Work (No. 327)[Audio podcast episode]. In inSocialWork. University at Buffalo School of Social Work.

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