The role of religion and spirituality in social work practice : guidelines for currricula development at South African schools of social work.
Religion and spirituality viewed within the context of the person-in-situation gestalt, interacts with and influences social work practice and education in a myriad ways. Internationally there has been strong acceptance of a biopsychosocial and spiritual paradigm in social work practice. Accordingly, a number of Schools of Social Work have moved toward integrating religion and spirituality into the curriculum so as to prepare students for spiritually sensitive social work practice. Locally, however, the field remains relatively unheard of and local Schools of Social Work have not introduced this topic into the curriculum. This study was conceptualized to undertake a comprehensive investigation into the role of religion and spirituality in social work practice and education. Particular areas of interest included the use of spiritually based intervention techniques in practice, transpersonal social work and curricula development. The study was directed primarily toward the development of an indigenous course on religion, spirituality and social work. Developmental research methodology in conjunction with participatory research methodology guided the research endeavour. A state of-the-art review of international syllabi was undertaken to serve as a framework upon which this course was built. A national survey was undertaken to assess the views of all final year social work students with regard to the role of religion and spirituality in social work practice, and their views about the inclusion of content in this area, in the curricula. This together with data obtained about their views on specific content for an indigenous course, was used to shape the interventional innovation. The latter took the form of comprehensive guidelines, consisting of thirteen units, which covered various facets of spirituality, religion and social work. Some of the units designed focused on spiritual assessment, models of spiritual development, spiritually based intervention and research techniques in this field. The guidelines were then disseminated to all Heads of Schools of Social Work in South Africa for the purpose of evaluation. Evaluative data reflected that the programme had covered all areas sufficiently and could be used to guide the introduction and implementation of the course at South African Schools of Social Work.
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