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Episode 159 - Bonnie Collins and Elaine Hammond: Integrating Spirituality Into Social Work Practice: A Conversation (part 1 of 2)

Monday, January 19, 2015, 9:50:26 AM

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Every social work student learns about the biopsychosocial model early in his or her social work education. The use of this three-dimensional model underscores the complexity of the client experience. However, social workers are increasingly recognizing and adding an additional dimension. Spirituality has been an often-controversial aspect of social work practice. Social work students as well as seasoned professionals are frequently unsure if, when, or how to introduce this topic. Part 1 of this conversation looks at the difference between spirituality and religion, and how social workers prepare to address this sensitive topic.

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Average Rating: 4.2 stars (6 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  grounding yourself in spirituality, Monday, February 11, 2019

By Renee Henry :

Episode 159 - Bonnie Collins and Elaine Hammond: Integrating Spirituality Into Social Work Practice: A Conversation (part 1 of 2)
This podcast explores the integration of spirituality in clinical intervention by first giving New York States definition of spirituality as an internal process that involves a persons sacred connection to life and their belonging in the universe that may be expressed in diverse ways that may include God or not. It was mentioned that the DSM has a diagnosis (a v-code that is not billable) for when the focus of clinical attention is a religious or spiritual problem. This could include the questioning of ones faith, conversion of faith, loss of a loved one, or the questioning of spiritual values. As a social worker it is imperative that we know where our own beliefs are and to be grounded in what we believe in so that we can help others and to accept diversity. Often we are afraid to ask others about their beliefs for fear that they may not be the same as ours, but we should not be afraid to meet the challenge. The podcast mentioned ways to assess for spirituality could include first asking the questions of when in your life do you feel most alive. Another suggestion is to have the client do an autobiography of him or herself to find spiritual highpoints in their life, which can promote a spiritual discussion. It was also mentioned that spirituality is what helps people through their trauma. On the other hand people who experience trauma may also blame God for what has happened to them. They may feel betrayed by God or what they consider to be their higher power. When we mention prayer or a spiritual connection, the floodgate opens and we should not be afraid to address the client’s situation. As social workers we need to figure out how to get the beauty back in the client’s life otherwise we impoverish them, but to do so we must be able to ground ourselves in our own spirituality first.

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Average Rating: 5stars  great introduction for integrating spirituality into social work practice, Thursday, January 31, 2019

By Alicia :

The definitions that differentiate religion and spirituality were helpful for laying a foundation for this podcast. It was intriguing and challenging to hear that, for one of you, spirituality has become an imperative, a part of the assessment process with conversational implications of asking such questions. A spiritual eco-map and requesting a client to write an autobiography that includes spiritual markers are helpful tools for a clinician to use in order to naturally introduce spirituality into the therapeutic relationship. The statement that we “impoverish the process if we leave it off the table,” is a grand challenge for social workers who are fearful, reluctant, or unwilling to enter this discourse with clients. Certainly, the NASW code of ethics makes it clear that evangelizing by the worker is unethical. Spiritual conversations can be naturally incorporated without ever overstepping this ethical boundary.

There is a fear for many students and practitioners to broach spirituality. Some of those fears are disclosed in this talk, but the roots of those fears are not explored. Some musings that occurred while listening to and pondering this podcast are as follows. Why is it that human diversity is celebrated in nearly every other realm and other taboo subjects are quite natural for social workers to delve into with clients but not spirituality? Is it the personal nature or something else that makes spirituality such a controversial subject? Are MSW programs seen as a safe place for students to explore and discuss their spirituality? If not, then it makes sense that it is not a natural topic to raise when working with clients in the field. A foundational truth shared in this presentation is the imperative that social workers first know their own spiritual worldview and then accept those whose beliefs are in opposition.

Thank you for the example questions and resources provided for the listener.

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Average Rating: 5stars  review of podcast 159, Monday, February 01, 2016

By Daphne Booth :

This podcast is an excellent starting point to think about addressing spirituality within the therapeutic relationship. Collins and Hammond make a compelling case for why spirituality is an essential part of the assessment process in clinical intervention. Honoring spirituality is part of honoring diversity. Therapists are often reluctant to broach spirituality because they doubt the appropriateness of including it in the therapeutic relationship. This reluctance can stem from therapists being unsure of where they stand on their own spirituality. Collins and Hammond contend that the client’s spirituality can be how they make meaning in their life. Spirituality is beyond what one feels to what one believes and an integral part of one’s worldview. The podcast touches on how faith can help people through trauma and how one’s spirituality is often changed by trauma. Several resource books are mentioned for further reading on the subject.

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Average Rating: 4stars  the importance of spirituality in social work, Saturday, January 23, 2016

By Joann Chopra :

I enjoyed this podcast and find the topic of spirituality of importance in social work practice. As an MSW student it was helpful to hear that there is a place for spirituality in clinical interventions.I liked the idea that spirituality/religion be a part of the assessment process. I agree with the conclusion that many people are able to cope with trauma through spirituality or faith. I thought a key suggestion was to listen for spiritual references and then tap into those when appropriate in the conversation. I have found that bereavement work often involves spirituality and being open to the topic and embracing the client's views are so important to developing a good working relationship. The idea that as a practitioner it is important to know yourself and where you stand on spirituality was interesting, and I agree with learning as much as you can about spirituality. I think if you are comfortable within yourself with the topic of spirituality, that will translate into being comfortable incorporating it with clients. As suggested, one of the challenges of integrating spirituality is the practitioner's ability to be nonjudgmental. As a social worker, consistently examining are own biases are so important and I think that is especially true with this topic. I really liked the suggestion of asking clients what they find beauty in. This simple question has the potential to reveal so much and perhaps help the social worker tune-in to the client.
I am glad that the topic of spirituality was brought up and hope it continues to be a topic of conversation. I can understand how some people may feel uncomfortable with the topic, but I think it is important to be able to meet the client's needs and to honor diversity.

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Average Rating: 3stars  the importance of knowing yourself when discussing spirituality, Saturday, February 07, 2015

By Tina Z :

After 15 years working as a counselor, I integrate spirituality in all of my practice. This might include individual sessions, group sessions, or assessments. As Bonnie and Elaine highlighted in this podcast, people are afraid of spirituality. They are afraid of it often because they don’t exactly know what either means. I also ask similar questions like Bonnie and Elaine shared like “what are you passionate about? Where do you find your purpose in life? What does it look like for you to love someone or someone to love you?” I basically went through the motions and hoped that I could fake it until I made it. As I learned more about spirituality, through my patient’s and colleague’s testimonies, and life experience, I realized that I, in fact, was a definitely a spiritual person. I found my “God, Higher Power, strength, whatever term works best for you” through things like Bonnie and Elaine mentioned in the podcast, gardening, the sun coming up, smiles, rainbows, animals, etc. I found that being mindful of all that is around me in the moment has enhanced my belief that you have to have a solid core before you can have faith in anything. As repeated in the podcast a worker has to be “grounded” in their beliefs. Or as I would say, “you have to know yourself inside out, upside down, and backwards.” This is my explanation for those seeking any form of recovery. I enjoyed this podcast and look forward to hear the second part of the podcast coming next week. It spoke personally to me and my initial struggle with spirituality discussions as a new clinician. I am glad to hear spirituality being addressed in the social work field in so many different fashions. I think it should be discussed at all levels of education and professions that involve direct care of individuals. I say that because it took a good part of my twenties for me to find my way.



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Average Rating: 3stars  spirituality vs religion in the practice of social work, Saturday, January 24, 2015

By Anonymous :

I address Spirituality/Religion in almost all of my therapeutic interactions. The population I work with identify their faith/religion as a necessary core to their life experience.
To make a comment, regarding NYS definition to religion, that "super sounds like superman" was offensive and insensitive as many religious/faith communities believe in supernatural spiritual
power.


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