Resources to Enrich Your Social Work Practice


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Insights from an Emerging Field


Until quite recently many social workers and social work educators were reluctant to engage with religious diversity. Indeed, a 2008 nationwide survey of over 1,800 social workers found that nearly 65% report­ed receiving no training whatsoever on “relig­ious or spirit­ual issues” in their social work education (see Edward Canda and Leola Furman, Spiritual Diversity in Social Work Practice, pg. 372).  This troubling gap in cultural competence training has left many social workers unpre­pared to work effective­ly with religiously diverse clients and communities.

But this pattern has shifted in recent years, as a growing number of social workers have recognized the importance of religion and/or spir­ituality in their clients’ lives and their professional practice.  There is now a thriving scholar­ly liter­ature on religion, spirit­uality, and social work.  And you will pleased to find that social work educators have developed a range of resources to help you engage with the religious lives of the people you serve, including scholarly and popular texts, video trainings, self assessment tools, and other materials.

You will find links to many of these resources on this page, including materials developed by the Interfaith Center of New York and other organizations.  None of these sources can take the place of a personal engagement with religious diversity, but they can nevertheless enrich your practice with religiously diverse clients and communities.



Past ICNY Programs for Social Workers:


Click here for a series of 12 ninety-minute videos from ICNY’s 2011 Social Work and Religious Diversity course.  These videos include academic introductions to six major religious traditions, geared specifically to social workers, as well as panel discussions with local clergy members, community leaders, and faith-based service providers from each tradition. The course includes sessions on Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and African diaspora traditions like Vodou and Santeria.  These videos are an extraordinary resource for social workers seeking a richer understanding of American religious diversity.

Click here for a collection from videos from ICNY programs exploring social justice, social service, and mental health issues.  These videos feature presentations and reflections by diverse clergy members, community leaders, and service providers. They include a cultural competence training video on “Islam, Parenting, and Foster Care,” videos from day-long conferences on “Child Welfare and Foster Care” and “Spirituality and Religion in End of Life Care,” and from a interfaith dialogue on “Scripture and Healing: Perspectives from the Yoruba and Christian Traditions.”




ICNY Bibliographies for Social Workers:


Click these bullets to download or print a series of bibliographies prepared for previous Social Work and Religious Diversity programs, including references to academic and popular sources on: 





Resources from Other Social Work Educators:


See the Council on Social Work Education’s Religion and Spirit­uality Clearinghouse for downloadable biblio­graphies, syllabi, and other resources on religion, spirituality, and social work practice.


See the website of the Society for Spirituality and Social Work for downloadable biblio­graphies, syllabi, conference announcements, contact information for local chapters, and other resources.


See the website of the Canadian Society for Spirituality and Social Work, and especially its Research Clearinghouse, for downloadable scholarly essays, syllabi, bibliographies, and other resources.


See the website of the University of Kansas’ Spiritual Diversity and Social Work Initiative, and especially its Resources Page for downloadable biblio­graphies and other resources.


See the website of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University, for a wide range of resources, publications, educational programs, and bibliographies.


See the Nathan Kline Institute’s Center of Excellence in Culturally Competent Mental Health for a range of resources on cultural competence in mental health care, including “Cultural Profiles” of Hasidic Jews and American Muslims.


See the quarterly Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work for current scholarship by social work educators. (Unfortunately, the journal is not open access – you may need to log on through a university library.)