School for Social Work
Although a substantial body of literature has emerged in recent years addressing the role of religion in clinical social work practice, we know very little about what actually happens in clinical practice. The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine what we could learn from the practice wisdom of clinical practitioners about how issues of religion and spirituality actually emerge in their practice. The sample was comprised of twelve licensed clinical practitioners who agreed to engage in a face-to-face interview to discuss their practice wisdom. The sample was skewed towards white, heterosexual women, which is representative of the field. The research schedule included demographic background questions, more open-ended qualitative questions and a religious value scale. Findings were that all participants discussed issues of religion and spirituality in their practice although the frequency varied. This suggested that the field is making progress in integrating this content in practice. Religion was not the presenting problem in any of the case examples presented. Rather religion tended to emerge during treatment in connection with other issues. Three such issues were identified: (1) religion/spirituality as a need for external controls; (2) as part of personal identity development and separation-individuation issues; (3) as a sense of connection for persons struggling with isolation.
Giese-Sweat, Andrea Leigh, "The intersection of religion, spirituality and social work : implications for clinical practice" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.