Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine L. Marrs Fuchsel

Abstract

The current base of literature highlights the importance of physical health and it’s impact on an individual’s mental health and overall well-being. The purpose of this research is to examine how often social workers target physical health in practice with clients and if there is an underutilization of the research regarding the impact of physical health on psychological health in practice with clients. The research specifically examines how physical health is incorporated into assessment, diagnosis, and over the course of treatment in clinical social work practice. This study used qualitative research, which includes data collection, data analysis, and using grounded theory to develop themes that arise from the data. Nine clinical social workers from a variety of practice settings were interviewed to gather data about the inclusion of physical health in social work practice. Themes found include the provision of psychoeducation about physical health into treatment, informal inclusion of physical health into treatment as the social worker and client see fit, and the impact of exercise, sleep, and dietary habits on an individual’s mental health. The current research findings have many similarities and contradictions with the various findings from the literature review. The present research project had many strengths and limitations alike. The results of the current research project indicate how clinical social workers are presently incorporating physical health into assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Future research is needed that focuses on how physical health can be formally addressed and measured in clinical social work practice.

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