Facilitative Leadership in Social Work Practice by Elizabeth M. Breshears and Roger Dean Volker. Springer Publishing Company, New York, 2013, 208 pages, $55.00 softcover.
Somebody at Springer owes Breshears and Volker an apology for the mundane title of this wonderful little book. Eleven short chapters are accessible to undergraduate students and packed full of concise summaries of complex topics. The authors give the reader everything essential to revolutionizing the bane of employed existence—the meeting. Sprinkled with stories from their personal experience and appended with 18 specific techniques for use in revitalizing meetings, public forums, work teams, and task groups, this book belongs in the personal library of every social worker. A few exercises close every chapter for classroom use.
The authors claim that facilitative leadership is “a fundamental skill for social workers” (p. xii). Like a group facilitator, a facilitative leader promotes inclusion and avoids the exercise of power over the group; but unlike a group facilitator, the facilitative leader is not necessarily neutral. This results in a potential conflict in which the facilitative leader is constantly balancing attention to the ongoing group processes with the need for group productivity, attention to content, and accountability to external authorities. The authors suggest that attendees practicing facilitative leadership will enhance any meeting, and I agree.
One of the most interesting aspects of Breshears and Volker’s view of facilitative leadership is that it can be practiced in any meeting by anyone in attendance. The skills, techniques, and perspectives conjoined in the facilitative leader do not require position or title. Accordingly, the practice of facilitative leadership is thoroughly compatible with the ethics and values of the profession, the pragmatic realities associated with the modest status associated with social workers in a variety of practice contexts, and the profession’s commitment to improving life opportunities for our clients despite our limited access to resources. Breshears and Volker never use hyperbole to this extent, but after reading this book it is hard to imagine social work practice without facilitative leadership.
A few chapters warrant specific acclaim because of the breadth of their content and brevity of their expression. Leadership Theories (Chapter 3) is one of the more heavily cited chapters. It provides a wealth of information about the historical trends and different perspectives regarding leadership. Building on these theories, Leadership Ethics for Social Workers (Chapter 4) not only relates leadership approaches to social work ethics, but also engages with the literature on power, oppression, and empowerment. Frankly, I have not read anything comparable to the clarity and conciseness of this chapter. Theoretical foundations continue in How Groups Work (Chapter 5) where the authors summarize group formation, group effectiveness, and the avoidance of groupthink. The book ends with six “how to” chapters to stimulate reflection and practice related to leadership, group organization, process observation, process intervention, evaluation of facilitative leadership, and recommendations from the authors’ experiences.
I believe social work students and social workers lucky enough to stumble onto a copy of this book will hang onto it. It is a handy reference to a variety of group activities, but it is so much more than that. Group leaders will find it a self-help guide. Frustrated work teams will find it a diagnostic tool to understand what is going wrong. The chair of every committee can only hope that committee members are familiar with the content. I highly recommend that practitioners and students get a copy of this book and implement it in their practice. We will all be better off for doing so.
Reviewed by Peter A. Kindle, Ph.D., CPA, LMSW, assistant professor, University of South Dakota, Peter.Kindle@usd.edu.
Treating Women With Substance Use Disorders During Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Approach to Caring for Mother and Child, by Hendree E. Jones and Karol Kaltenbach. Oxford University Press, New York, 2013, 210 pages, $55.
Providing services to people diagnosed with substance use issues is a challenging enterprise for many new social workers, as most baccalaureate and master’s programs give a cursory overview of substance use issues within the curriculum. Students do not often think of specializing in providing services to pregnant women with substance use issues, yet this is an area social workers are likely to encounter. Substance use disorders often precede pregnancy. Simply abstaining from substances during pregnancy may be easier said than done, especially for women who have complicated histories with drugs. Jones and Kaltenbach address many of these issues in Treating Women With Substance Use Disorders During Pregnancy.
Each chapter overviews various issues that service providers, including social workers, may encounter when serving pregnant women with substance use issues. Divided into three major sections, the text includes sections on macro-level issues, assessment and treatment planning, and comprehensive care models. The chapters provide basic overviews that would be found in any substance abuse text—for example, content on recovery as a construct, motivational enhancement and cognitive behavioral services, assessment and screening tools, and co-occurring disorders. Unique is content on pregnancy-related issues, such as the role of proper nutrition, obstetrical care, HIV risk behaviors, and medical management of substance-using pregnant women who are experiencing withdrawal-related symptoms.
The text has a number of strengths. Although the nature of providing services to pregnant women with substance use disorders varies widely by jurisdiction, Jones and Kaltenbach provide an accessible overview of the host of issues that new social workers may encounter when working with this population. Social workers will find the chapters on service planning and case management to be especially useful to their practice. Social workers experienced in substance use disorders may find the introductory nature of the content on substance use disorder to be a bit too basic. These social workers will find the straightforward language helpful in training students who lack experience with substance use disorders.
Although a strong resource, there are some opportunities missed. A noticeable omission is the role of cultural issues, including racial and ethnic, gender identity, sexual orientation, and other diversity issues that affect service delivery. At times, the text seems to paint pregnant women with substance use disorders with a broad brush and fails to recognize the role of stigmas related to race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other cultural factors in fostering substance use disorders. Social workers will find the general omission of diversity issues to be a major gap; nevertheless, the quality of the other content outweighs this gap.
As a whole, Jones and Kaltenbach’s book is a worthy contribution to the literature on substance abuse. Novice social workers will find the text to be a helpful tool for educating themselves about this important issue. Experienced social workers with specialized knowledge about pregnant women with substance use issues will find it to be a solid resource to provide to their social work students in field placement. Additionally, social work educators will find the text to be a useful primary text, especially in courses dealing with substance use issues in pregnancy.
Reviewed by Trevor G. Gates, Ph.D., LCSW, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, College at Brockport, State University of New York.
The Handbook for Public Health Social Work, edited by Robert Keefe and Elaine T. Jurkowski, Social Work Section of the American Public Health Association, Springer, New York, 2013, 408 pages, $65 (list price).
The history and development of The Handbook for Public Health Social Work is consistent with the value structure embedded within social work practice. The concept for this edited volume emerged during a business meeting of the Social Work Section of the American Public Health Association. Members of the section concluded that there was a need for a textbook addressing themes for public health social work. The group decided to develop the book on a pro bono basis. Robert H. Keefe and Elaine T. Jurkowski must be applauded for their efforts to coordinate the work of 23 different authors. None of the authors or the two editors was financially compensated for their work. In today’s economy, such altruism is rare. Any royalties from the work automatically transfer as a donation to the American Public Health Association.
The evaluation criteria for edited volumes are different when compared to evaluating a non-edited book. Three issues can be addressed. These include cost, consistency, and the index.
First, as a professor who is extremely sensitive to the cost of textbooks, I was astounded to discover at the time of this writing that the cost of this volume ranges from $37.04 to $57.99. In assessing the quality and the caliber of the authors, I was expecting the price to be at least $100. The pro bono work of the editors and authors in coordination with the Springer press must be considered a great expression of altruism. Students who purchase this fine book are getting a great deal. Students will not find a higher quality text for the price.
Second, one major problem of most edited books is inconsistency in the quality of writing. After all, each chapter is written by a different person. Robert H. Keefe and Elaine T. Jurkowski accomplished a Herculean task. Anyone who has edited a book knows that coordinating consistent quality is not just an editing task, but also a political one. This type of editing is extremely time-consuming and a delicate enterprise. Students are getting a consistently written text with classroom exercises and Internet resources at the end of each chapter. To test the comprehensiveness of the book, I searched the Internet to uncover the burning issues facing public health social workers. I couldn’t find any stone left unturned.
Last, unlike non-edited books, edited books are often NOT read from beginning to end. Researchers or students who are in the midst of completing a review of literature will be interested in specific sections. A key factor in assessing the quality of an edited book is the index. I tested the index in various ways and found it to be superior to those of most edited books I have used and reviewed. Again, the editors did an excellent job.
The Handbook for Public Health Social Work is a great book for a great price. It stands far above the quality of most edited books. I highly recommend it for use in the classroom. In addition, because of its excellent index, I recommend that faculty request their respective libraries to adopt the book for researchers.
Reviewed by Stephen M. Marson, Ph.D., Senior Editor, Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics.
The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South, by Katherine van Wormer, David W. Jackson III, & Charletta Sudduth. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2012, 384 pages, $36.95.
According to Leora Mitchell, a former maid interviewed for The Maid Narratives, “A right’s a right, and right doesn’t wrong nobody.” This philosophy reveals the ugliness of sociopolitical-economic oppression dealt to African American domestic workers in the Jim Crow South.
The stories of the women who worked as maids for low wages are told in vivid narratives colored by the realities of early to mid-19th century America. The Jim Crow South was peppered liberally with rules, most unspoken and unexplained. Step off the sidewalk if a White person is approaching; call White children “Mr.” or “Miss” regardless of what you are called; and in some cases, don’t use the family bathroom, even if that meant going to the woods, under the house, or to an outhouse. Black people were expected to know the rules, teach them to their children, and conform without exception. In the maids’ recollections, most accepted the rules as “just the way it was.” Some were fortunate to escape the Jim Crow South and head north in the Great Migration. Away from the South, they found jobs that paid a higher wage, even for those who continued to work as domestics.
The Maid Narratives is composed of three sections, beginning with an introduction and history/context of the times. How the women left the South to move to the Midwest (mainly to Waterloo, Iowa) will be of interest to students and professors of policy and social oppression. Historians and students alike will benefit from reading of the hardships of working as sharecroppers on White-owned land. The narratives of families who toiled in fields and harvested crops year-long only to be told that they owed the land-owner for supplies are heart-breaking. One inspiring narrative told of a maid’s father who sacrificed to purchase land and escape the sharecrop system.
The second section is a verbatim narrative as told by the 23 maids who were interviewed. Born from 1906-1953 with a history spanning approximately a half century, some participants were teens not much older than the children they were charged with supervising. These young women worked six or seven days a week, ten or twelve hours per day. Wages were extremely low. On holidays, some served their employers while their families remained at home.
The maids told of their treatment by the family members and the relationships they developed with the children they cared for or the woman of the house. Some told of extreme hardships, such as sexual harassment or other maltreatment. Some participants said that young people today think they would have “stood up” to the employers and refused to be treated harshly if they had lived during the years prior to the Civil Rights Movement. As several maids noted, they could not “stand up,” because that was the way things were. There was no escape, nor was there any other employment (until they managed to migrate further north) if they were labeled as disrespectful. There was a price for “stepping out of line.”
Whites tell their stories in the third section of the book. Respondents (born 1922-1957) were those who either employed maids or came of age with maids in their homes. Ten different themes were derived from these narratives, including denial, cognitive dissonance, and defensiveness about the history of the maids. Some expressed guilt or regret for the treatment and working conditions of the maids. Only one White participant owned a picture of the maid employed during her childhood. Although many expressed the sentiment that the maids “were like family,” tangible proof of belonging (in the form of a photograph) was missing.
Readers may find themselves wondering about other stories. As most of the White participants were teachers or social workers, the question remains: How would narratives of non-helping professionals look? Possibly children who grew up with maids were attuned to social injustices and sensitive to inequality. Social workers should ask: What can we learn from these stories? Do we combat negative attitudes, discrimination, and oppression? Are we part of the solution for societal ills? The authors produced a volume that contributes to deeper analysis and, perhaps, a bit of discomfort for all.
Reviewed by Melinda Pilkinton, Ph.D., LCSW, Associate Professor and Director, Social Work Program, Department of Sociology, Mississippi State University.
Hospice Social Work, by Dona J. Reese, Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 2013, 348 pages, $42.35.
Hospice Social Work provides a comprehensive review of recent research on hospice work supplemented by the author’s extensive experience working in hospice. The book briefly reviews the history of dying in the United States, including the development of hospice and the current status of social work in hospice.
In Chapter 3, A Model for Psychosocial and Spiritual Care in Hospice, the author presents a model for predicting hospice outcomes based upon the most recent social work research. The model is built from the bio-psycho-social-spiritual model and incorporates social work thinking. The author does an excellent job of clarifying each portion of the model and how it relates to end-of-life issues. This sets the tone for the rest of the book. The author uses this model to address micro, mezzo, and macro practice in hospice. The chapters dealing with practice provide specific techniques, which a social worker can use at the various levels of practice. All of the techniques are based in current research and the author’s experience.
The book addresses several cultural issues that relate to hospice practice. Although the discussions of different cultures are brief, they do raise significant issues in doing hospice work with people from other than euro-descended cultures.
The chapter on self-care for hospice social workers, although brief, raises the significant issues that a hospice social worker might face and provides techniques for dealing with personal values and feelings. The final chapter deals with future challenges for hospice and hospice social workers. Throughout the book, the author stresses the need for better research and better documentation of social work outcomes in hospice. This final chapter makes clear the need for social workers to document and research their practice in hospice.
I found this a book that would be very useful in both an MSW and a BSW course dealing with death, dying, and hospice. I especially appreciated how the author addressed culture rather than race. I find culture much more usable and meaningful than race, and I hope other authors will follow this lead. The review of the literature and the references provide a solid base for the model the author proposes. The author’s stress on social work defining its role in hospice and documenting outcomes is of importance. This would help students and practitioners appreciate the importance of practical research.
Overall, I would recommend this book for social work education and for practitioners. The language is accessible and the arguments are clear and concise.
Reviewed by Wayne C. Evens, MSW, Ph.D. Associate Professor/Program Director, Bradley University Social Work Program.
Citizenship Social Work With Older People, by Malcome Payne, Chicago, Lyceum Books, 2012, 193 pages, $36.95.
British author Malcolm Payne’s newest book, entitled Citizenship Social Work With Older People, is a marvelous, meaty, and meaningful book that challenges social workers to value and respect older adults as equals. Eight succinct and well organized chapters present current aging theories and focus on social context and social work practice issues. Payne draws upon his teaching experience at Poland’s Opole University and policy experience as development advisor to London’s St. Christopher’s Hospice.
Each chapter contains pause and reflect questions, case examples, and ample Internet resources that enhance his narrative on: 1) social theories of aging; 2) philosophies of integration services working with older adults; 3) the provision of health, housing, and social security; 4) building skills in communication, advance care planning, assessment, and case management; 5) critical social work practice; 6) creativity, life review, and reminiscence; 7) groupwork and macro practice interventions; and 8) end-of-life, ageism, and social inequalities. Thirteen boxed items nicely interrupt the narrative just when readers need a visual resource to give depth and breadth.
Lyceum Books, Inc., publishes this book and has allowed Payne to open each chapter with relevant aims and end with a brief conclusion, further reading, and Internet information sections. Eleven pages of reference and a well assembled index help the reader locate primary resources and topics of interest.
Payne aptly argues for taking a citizenship approach to social work with older people. While he acknowledges biological and physical aspects of aging that have important personal and social consequences, he also emphasizes that “aging is a social process, as well, taking place within families and communities” (p. 27). Sagely recommendations on integration are found in Chapter 2, in which Payne notes that “mainstreaming older people’s experiences so that their help comes from everyday, non-specialized services, and age-proofing services so that they are able to respond to older people’s needs are also important objectives” (p. 53).
My favorite chapters were five and six, in which critical social work and creativity are covered. In the case example of Mrs. Oliver’s New Life (p. 120), the social worker learns that opportunity work needs to accompany reality work! Aims of the creativity chapter include helping the reader develop, evaluate, and incorporate multiple types of creative practice, including life review and reminiscence, gardening, painting, photography, music, religion and/or spirituality, and redesigning ordinary activities creatively.
In conclusion, I give an enthusiastic “thumbs up” to Payne’s book. The book esteems older adults and is useful for teaching, developing presentations, and gaining ideas for community group work endeavors.
Reviewed by Lisa E. Cox, Associate Professor of Social Work and Gerontology, Research Chair, Stockton College’s Center on Successful Aging (SCOSA), The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.