Social Work and Religious Diversity


Social Work HOME May 2017 Conference Conference Presenters Conference Registration Links and Resources Contact Us
Social Work HOME April 2016 Conference Conference Presenters
Conference Registration Resources for Social Workers Contact Us


Faith leaders and service providers in conversation at the Social Work and Religious Diversity conference


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Social Work and Religious Diversity:

Annual Conference for Social Service and Mental Health Care Providers



The Interfaith Center of New York and our partners are proud to offer an annual continuing education conference for social workers and their colleagues.  The Social Work and Religious Diversity series helps social service and mental health care providers work effectively with religiously diverse clients, and offers continuing education credit hours for New York State LMSWs and LCSWs.

Our next full-day conference will be held on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.  It will feature diverse local religious leaders, scholars, and faith-based service providers, exploring the intimate ties between Religion, Spirituality, and Family Life.

Please click here for a program and other details about the conference, click here for brief biographies of our speakers, and click here for conference registration.  We hope you can join us on May 10th, to explore the religious lives of diverse New York families.


Why Study Social Work and Religious Diversity?

Because to make a difference in today’s New York, mental health and social service providers need a rich understanding of the religious lives of the people they serve.  The religious landscape of the United States has shifted dramatically in recent years, with the arrival of new Americans from every corner of the globe and every faith tradition.  The changing face, and faith, of America may be seen in the diverse client-base of New York City’s social workers.  The religious beliefs and values of many New Yorkers shape their views of pressing social issues – child welfare and youth development, mental health and depression, substance abuse and recovery, sexuality and LGBT relationships, immigration and assimilation, aging and end-of-life issues, and many others.  In order to work effectively on these issues, New York’s social workers need to understand the religious beliefs and practices of the clients and communities they serve.

Because the city’s diverse faith traditions offer valuable insights and resources that can enrich your practice as a mental health or social service professional.  Whether or not you are a faith-based provider, and regardless of the populations you serve, you can learn a great deal by engaging with your religiously diverse colleagues. Your practice might be enriched by Christian understandings of personal faith and transformation; by Jewish understandings of “tikkun olam,” or the repair of our painfully broken world; by Muslim understandings of the dynamic balance between justice and compassion; by Buddhist understandings of mindfulness and non-attachment; by Hindu and Sikh understandings of “seva,” or selfless service; by African diaspora or Orisha understandings of the reciprocal ties between the social and spiritual worlds.  In all these ways, and more, an engagement with religious diversity can transform your practice as a social worker.


Supporting Social Workers and their Colleagues since 2007

The Interfaith Center of New York has offered education programs for mental health and social service professionals since 2007, to help them develop the multi-faith cultural competence they need to work effectively with diverse clients, colleagues, and community partners.  Our Social Work and Religious Diversity program has served many hundreds of social workers, MSW students, psychologists, chaplains, and others, and has received overwhelmingly positive participant evaluations.  Our students have said, for example:


“This is one of the most interesting workshops I’ve ever attended.  It has opened my curiosity to learn more about every one of the religious traditions presented – not only to better serve my clients, but also to better myself.”

“These sessions have been such an eye-opener for me.  There is so much information I can use in my work.  Thank you for this experience!”

“I valued learning from different perspectives, and learning how to speak about spirituality from a social work perspective.”

“I learned to appreciate the importance of religious beliefs in shaping every aspect of a person’s life.”

“I learned that I have to be aware of my own biases and respect others’ beliefs – ie, to meet my clients where they are.”

“The program was simply awesome – just wish it could be a little longer!”


In 2015, the Social Work and Religious Diversity program was approved by the New York State Education Department to offer continuing education credit hours that satisfy the new state licensing requirements for social workers.  Working with our partners at the Psychotherapy and Spirituality Institute, and the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, the Interfaith Center of New York is proud to develop high quality continuing education programs that meet the needs of New York State LMSWs and LCSWs, while appealing to social service and mental health care professionals in all fields.  We hope you can join us on Wednesday, May 10th, 2017, to explore the complex ties between Religion, Spirituality, and Family Life.


The Interfaith Center of New York SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers – provider # 0163.