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Spiritual Diversity in Social Work Practice

The Heart of Helping

Third Edition

Edward R, Canda, Leola Dyrud Furman, and Hwi-Ja Canda

Publication Date - 12 November 2019

ISBN: 9780190602291

624 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

A classic introduction to the values, knowledge, and skills for culturally sensitive practice


Social workers and helping professionals serve many people who draw upon religion and spirituality to find meaning, thrive, and overcome oppression and obstacles in their lives. The third edition of Spiritual Diversity in Social Work Practice provides a comprehensive framework of values, knowledge, and skills for spiritually sensitive and culturally appropriate practice with diverse religious and non-religious clients.

This classic text contains forty different case examples and stories that vividly illustrate the professional values and ethical principles that guide spiritually sensitive practice. Learning activities at the end of each chapter encourage readers' personal and professional development through self-reflection, dialogue, creative expression, outreach to the community, and skill application.

The book also draws connections between spiritual and cultural diversity, gender, and LGBTQI issues. It introduces beliefs, values, and social welfare applications of Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Indigenous spiritual perspectives, Islam, Judaism, Existentialism, and Transpersonal and Deep Ecological Theories. Skills for spiritual assessment and spiritually sensitive practices include mindfulness, meditation, ritual and ceremony, forgiveness, spiritually sensitive administration, and engagement with community-based spiritual support systems.

For social workers and other professional helpers committed to supporting the spiritual care of individuals, families, and communities, this definitive guide offers state-of-the-art interdisciplinary and international insights as well as practical tools that students and practitioners alike can put to immediate use.

New to this Edition

  • 20 new case examples and vignettes from personal and professional experiences
  • Expansion of content on assessment and practice with two added chapters in Part III (Chapter 9, Spiritual Assessment; Chapter 11, Spiritual Growth Promoting Practices)
  • Increased integration of the strengths perspective throughout the book
  • Additional exercises to engage the reader in personal and professional growth
  • Addition of 12 Steps perspective in Part II
  • Increased content on macro issues and principles for compassionate and spiritually sensitive understandings of justice
  • Expanded material on youth and end-of-life


  • Provides a comprehensive framework of values, knowledge, and skills for addressing religion and spirituality with diverse religious and nonreligious clients.This framework has been widely recognized as pioneering, innovative, and ground-breaking since the first edition of 1999.
  • Includes extensive integration of national, international, and interdisciplinary research and innovations addressing religion and spirituality in social work.
  • Provides practical tools that students and practitioners alike can put to immediate use.

About the Author(s)

Edward R. Canda, M.A., MSW, Ph.D., is Professor and Coordinator of the Spiritual Diversity and Social Work Initiative at the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. In 2013, the national Council on Social Work Education conferred Dr. Canda with the Significant Lifetime Achievement Award for innovations on spiritual diversity and spiritual development. Dr. Canda has published 14 books, 7 journal special editions, and more than 150 other articles and chapters, most related to connections between spirituality and cultural diversity in social work. He has also conducted more than 160 presentations nationally and internationally.

Leola Dyrud Furman, MSW, Ph.D., is Associate Professor Emerita in Social Work at the University of North Dakota. She is principal investigator of the International Study of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work Practice. Dr. Furman has published widely from her international survey studies together with colleagues in New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Hwi-Ja Canda, LSCSW, recently retired as medical social worker after 29 years at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Lawrence, Kansas. She also taught courses on health, spiritual diversity, and practicum education for the University of Kansas School of Social Welfare. She is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker and has advanced certifications from the National Association of Social Workers as a social work care manager and health care social worker. Ms. Canda has done many presentations internationally on spirituality and social work in health settings, hospice, and palliative care.


"This is a valuable resource on a dynamic social work practice concern, and should be on the shelf of every social work student and practitioner." -- Elizabeth Smith , Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Social Work: Social Thought

"This scholarly and engaging text continues to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding the benefits, challenges, and complexity of spiritually sensitive social work practice. The expanded content on macro practice and policy and the increased attention to international perspectives is particularly welcomed." -- Michael J. Sheridan

"Ranging from narratives of personal challenge and transformation to international perspectives, it envisions a spiritually-integrated social work future. This comprehensive book will captivate every reader." -- Holly Nelson-Becker, Brunel University London

"In the third edition of this groundbreaking book on spiritual diversity, the authors expand integration of an interdisciplinary, strengths-based and international perspective as well as provide explicit guidelines on assessment and practice that help social work professionals continue to expand our perspectives and skills in embracing spirituality in social work practice. This is a must read for social work professionals to embrace and appreciate differences within an inclusive perspective in an increasingly complex and diverse world." -- Mo Yee Lee, The Ohio State University

"The new edition of this groundbreaking book continues to deliver in its intelligence, heart, and practicality. Deeply grounded in an ethics of compassion, diversity, and social justice, the authors offer a comprehensive treatment of spiritually-sensitive social work practice employing empirical research, analysis, conceptual frameworks, and rich case studies. Their renewed emphasis on holistic self-care and healing justice provides an opportunity for social work students to draw from their whole selves in order to meet the whole selves of their clients." -- Loretta Pyles, University of Albany

"This book by Edward Canda fits perfectly to the quest for conceptual, ethical and practice guidance on how to deliver spiritual social work in an ethnic, faith, and value system diverse society." -- Cecilia L. W. Chan, The University of Hong Kong

"A new, updated edition of a modern classic in social work. With deep insight into the artistry of spirituality in social work practice and scholarship, this book is a must read for any practitioner, student, or scholar interested in learning about the importance of spirituality to social work. A tour de force!" -- John R. Graham, University of British Columbia

Table of Contents

    Part I Central Values and Concepts for Spiritually Sensitive Social Work

    1 Guiding Principles
    2 Compassion, the Call to Service, and Ethical Principles for Social Work
    3 The Meaning of Spirituality

    Part II Exploring Spiritual Diversity for Social Work Practice

    4 Human Diversity, Spirituality, and Social Work Practice
    5 Religious Perspectives on Social Service and Implications for Social Work Practice
    6 Nonsectarian Spiritual Perspectives, Comparisons, and Implications for Cooperation

    Part III Spiritually Sensitive Social Work in Action

    7 Creating a Spiritually Sensitive Context for Practice
    8 Spiritual Development
    9 Spiritual Assessment
    10 Ethical Guidelines for Spiritually Sensitive and Culturally Appropriate Practice
    11 Spiritual Growth Promoting Practices
    12 Transformational Process in Spiritually Sensitive Social Work Practice
    13 A Worldwide View

    Appendix: Methodological Summary for the 2008 National Survey of NASW Members (U.S.A.) on Spirituality and Religion in Practice

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