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Home arrow Sociology arrow Holistic engagement : transformative social work education in the 21st century
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IMPLICATIONS

The analysis of our experiences discussed in this chapter illuminates ways that societal, institutional, and other cultural forces may support the development of an identity as a holistic, IMBS educator, whereas other forces can constrain perceptions of agency and marginalize this preferred identity. We examined the use of critical pedagogy and the role of narrative practice approaches to support overcoming barriers to inclusion of IMBS practice and advance holistic social work education. In this section, we discuss implications of this analysis for advancing IMBS practice in social work education.

As discussed in this chapter, social work educators who desire to integrate IMBS practice into their teaching may perceive themselves as constrained from doing so. This perception may be accompanied by a sense of vulnerability, particularly among faculty of color, women, faculty who are untenured, and others with marginalized social identities. Initiatives to engage faculty in critical reflection on the dominant narratives and systems of power that operate to influence and subjugate their preferred identities can support their sense of agency. Acknowledging and honoring their marginal spaces responds to bell hooks' (2004) call for resistance and liberation from hegemonic forces in our institutions and society.

Liberatory projects to support faculty in promoting the inclusion of IMBS practice in social work curricula include (1) conference presentations and publications of critical reflections on the continued dominance of Western ways of knowing and potential constraints on the content and process of our teaching; (2) conference sessions that present the growing evidence base for the efficacy of many IMBS modalities, invite dialogue about IMBS practice, and explore strategies for IMBS inclusion in social work curricula; and (3) research projects to identify IMBS content in social education literature and social work programs. An example of the second type of liberatory project is a National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD)-sponsored “think tank” at the CSWE 59th annual meeting. This session invited dialogue among participants about IMBS practice as an emerging paradigm in social work (Raheim, Lee, & Tebb, 2013). NADD also supported the third type of project noted previously by funding a systematic review of IMBS literature and a survey of US MSW programs to identify current IMBS curricular content, intentions for future inclusion, and barriers to course development (Lee, Raheim, & Tebb, 2014).

Findings from Lee and colleagues' (2014) report can serve as a re-membering process for faculty who may be teaching IMBS content in isolation of other colleagues and create the possibility for connection that did not previously exist. In addition, the report's systematic literature review is a resource for social work educators who are seeking information about the efficacy of specific IMBS practices. These data can aid faculty who may be struggling with issues of credibility for their inclusion of IMBS content in courses.

CSWE could play a central role in advancing IMBS practice in social work education by sponsoring an IMBS curriculum project. Similar to the “Social Work and Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Project,” such an initiative could include development of IMBS courses, a learning network for faculty and students using these course materials, and development of field placements (CSWE, 2014a). Iffunding were not available for a project ofthis magnitude, CSWE could sanction the development of IMBS model syllabi and the development of an IMBS practice clearinghouse, similar to its web-based “Religion and Spirituality Clearinghouse” (CSWE, 2014b). Any of these CSWE-sponsored initiatives would add legitimacy and support for faculty to incorporate IMBS practice into the content and pedagogical strategies in social work courses, thereby advancing holistic social work education.

This chapter's analysis and discussion support the effectiveness of a critical pedagogical approach to create a liberatory space for social work educators and students to reflexively examine the continued dominance of Western ways of knowing, including the scientific paradigm, and potential constraints on IMBS practice. To make informed choices about what we teach and assist students to make informed choices about how they practice, faculty must promote a critical understanding of the philosophical and theoretical foundations of practice paradigms; their underlying values, sociopolitical, economic, and historical contexts; and the power and privilege dynamics they perpetuate. Faculty can create a safe, collaborative learning environment to promote critical analysis by maintaining an accepting, nonjudgmental, respectful stance in response to students' contributions; encouraging intellectual curiosity, self-reflection, and examination of multiple perspectives; inviting rather than demanding participation; and embodying the role of co-learner by listening to and expressing value of students' knowledges and experiences.

Beyond curricular content, IMBS practice can inform pedagogical strategies in any social work course. Mindfulness and other approaches that invite faculty and students to be fully present support a productive learning environment. IMBS practice principles regarding the importance of internal and external balance, harmony, and connectedness, along with ways we can energetically impact each other, invite faculty to consider their influence on students beyond intellectual development. These principles suggest that faculty self-care is an essential part of being an effective social work educator. Informed by IMBS practice approaches, faculty can design learning processes that encourage students to be active participants in maintaining their well-being while experiencing the stressful demands of graduate education and often challenging demands of field education.

 
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