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Practicing Rural Social Work

Paul Force-Emery Mackie, Kimberly Zammitt, and Michelle Alvarez

Publication Date - 01 July 2015

ISBN: 9780190616328

200 pages

In Stock


How do we define rural social work? How is rural social work practice different from practice in urban settings? Why is rural social work practice sometimes seen as complex and difficult to understand?

Within the conversation surrounding rural social work, there is a consistent focus on theoretical arguments, definitions, and political concerns, and a limited discussion of direct practice. This book speaks directly to practice concerns as they apply to rural environments at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. The authors use a generalist model of practice and apply systems and person-in-environment theories to help readers develop a more sophisticated understanding of general problems and concerns found in rural communities. To truly respond to the well-being of rural residents, rural social workers need to learn to identify and implement opportunities for growth, development, health, and welfare. This book encourages critical thinking, careful reflection, and self-directed learning so as to foster real, positive, sustainable social change in rural environments.


  • case examples supplied by practicing rural social workers
  • discussion questions drawn from the authors' experiences to further develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Promising Practices sections discuss ways that creativity and nontraditional tools and methods are utilized in interventions
  • additional activities for discussion and further exploration
  • provides additional resources and activities for further learning

About the Author(s)

Paul Force-Emery Mackie (MSW, Washington University in St. Louis; PhD, University of Denver) is professor of social work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He currently serves as President of the National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH) (2015-2017) and has been on the NARMH Board of Directors since 2009. He has written extensively on rural behavioral health labor force challenges and issues.

Kimberly Zammitt (BSW, MSW, University of Southern Mississippi; PhD, Jackson State University) is associate professor of social work at Minnesota State University, Mankato. With over ten years of clinical social work practice experience in the fields of community mental health, child and adolescent mental health, and geriatric mental health, Zammitt worked throughout the state of Mississippi establishing behavioral health services in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. She served as clinical social worker and training specialist working to bring mental health services to individuals, families, and groups in remote rural areas in Mississippi.

Michelle Alvarez (MSW, University of Maryland at Baltimore; EdD, Nova Southeastern University) is associate dean of Social Sciences, College of Online and Continuing Education at Southern New Hampshire University. She taught in two rural MSW programs at Minnesota State University, Mankato and the University of Southern Indiana. She was the co-coordinator for field at MSU, M and appreciated the support from many agencies who were spread out across the rural towns in Minnesota and surrounding states.

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Introduction to Rural Social Work
    Chapter 2. Rural Social Work at the Micro Level
    Chapter 3. Rural Mezzo Social Work: Social Work Practice with Groups and Natural Helping Networks
    Chapter 4. Rural Social Work at the Macro Level
    Chapter 5. Beyond the Basics: Other Issues Facing Social Workers in Rural Areas
    Chapter 6. Looking Forward

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