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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Spiritual assessment as a normal part of social work practice: power to help and power to harm.

Author: Sherwood, D.A.
Author Background: Roberts Wesleyan College, 2301 Westside Dr., Rochester, N.Y. 14624
Date , Fall 1998
Type Journal
Journal Title: Social-Work-and-Christianity
Volume/Pages 25(2): 80-90
Subject Matter Clinical Practice, Spirituality-; Social-work-practice; Religion-; Ethics
Abstract Spiritual and religious assessment and interventions as a normal part of social work practice are receiving renewed acceptance and attention in the social work profession. At the same time there is a relative lack of well-developed resources to assist social workers carry out this important dimension of holistic practice, providing an opportunity and challenge. Spirituality is defined generically in terms of the human search for transcendence, meaning, and connectedness beyond the self. Religion refers to a more formal embodiment of spirituality into relatively specific belief systems, organizations, and structures. Ethical practice in this area will always wrestle with the truth question regarding how to maintain integrity with our own values, client values, and agency values, requiring complex judgments in particular situations. Spiritual assessment and intervention must always be a functional, interactive, organic process, growing out of the work at hand. A variety of emerging resources are briefly reviewed, including several examples of assessment tools using both religious and nonreligious language. Because of the importance of spirituality and religion in peoples' lives, the responsibility of social workers to achieve competence in this area is correspondingly high. (Journal abstract.)