1 Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Social work Values: A Critical Analysis A. Antonio Gonz lez-Prendes, Wayne State University Kimberly Brisebois Wayne State University Journal of Social work Values and Ethics, Volume 9, Number 2 (2012). Copyright 2012, White Hat Communications This text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the authors and advance notification of White Hat Communications Abstract as a generic term that encompasses theoretical and Increasing numbers of clinical Social workers practice approaches that emphasize that a person's use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in their thinking is the prime determinant of emotional and practice. This article analyzes how CBT fits with behavioral responses to life events (A.)
2 Beck, 1976;. Social work values and in particular with Social Ellis, 1994; Meichenbaum, 1993). Although there justice. We propose that CBT is a good fit with the may be subtle differences among the various CBT. values of the profession and make suggestions for approaches, Dobson and Dobson (2009) identify areas of improvement. three basic assumptions that underscore most CBT. approaches: (1) cognitive processes and content Keywords: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy , Social are accessible and can be known; (2) our thoughts work values, Social justice, Social work practice and beliefs mediate the way we process informa- tion and consequently affect our emotional and 1. Introduction behavioral responses; and (3) maladaptive cogni- In a day when evidence-based practice tions can be intentionally targeted and changed in has become so important to the Social work pro- a more rational and realistic direction, thus reliev- fession, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has ing symptoms and increasing functionality.
3 In CBT. become one of the most frequently used forms of individuals are seen not as passive entities simply psychotherapeutic intervention. Extensive research reacting to environmental cues or past experienc- supports the effectiveness of CBT approaches for es, but rather as human beings with the potential a wide range of psychosocial issues (Dobson & to actively shape the course of their lives. CBT. Dobson, 2009; Granvold, 2011). It is one of the methods are particularly popular in the fields of most widely researched and published models of substance abuse and mental health. cognitive -be- Therapy , with more than 325 published outcome havioral treatment models are among the most studies that validate its efficacy (Butler, Chapman, extensively evaluated interventions for alcohol and Forman, & A.)
4 Beck, 2006). This empirical vali- illicit drug use (Magill & Ray, 2008, p. 256), and dation has made CBT a popular choice for Social several studies have demonstrated the effective- work practitioners seeking evidence-based treat- ness of CBT methods with this population (Rose, ments. For the purpose of this paper we use CBT 2004; Van Wormer & Davis, 2008). CBT is also Journal of Social work Values & Ethics, Fall 2012, Vol. 9, No. 2 - page 21. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Social work Values: recognized as an effective short-term treatment behind integrative models. When they examined suitable for individuals with various mental health the Social work profession in particular, Prochaska concerns (Butler et al., 2006; Leishsenring & Leib- and Norcross found that 30% of Social workers ing, 2003; Pilling et al.
5 , 2002). in the United States practice from a behavioral or According to the National Association of cognitive orientation. In another survey of licensed Social Workers (NASW, 2005), clinical Social clinical Social workers across 34 states, Pignotti workers constitute the largest group of behavioral and Thyer (2009) asked about interventions used health providers in the United States. Along these in practice and found that 43% of respondents lines, NASW (2006) points out that more than used Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy , 18% indicated 60% of mental health treatment is delivered by so- cognitive Therapy /restructuring, and 12% used cial workers. Social work involvement in the fields behavior modification. Other approaches included of substance abuse and mental health is prevalent solution-focused Therapy (23%) and psychodynam- and expected to rise.
6 According to projections in ic Therapy (21%). Furthermore, when Prochaska the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010 11 and Norcross polled a panel of experts to forecast edition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2010) the future of psychotherapy, the results indicated indicates that employment for Social workers that cognitive therapies were projected to be the is expected to grow by 16% between 2008 and most popular with the more generic approach 2018. The greatest increases are projected in areas Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy ranked number one associated with clinical Social work : medical and and Aaron Beck's cognitive Therapy ranked num- public health (22%), and mental health and sub- ber three. Since most cognitive therapists integrate stance abuse (20%).
7 According to BLS (2010), the behavioral experiments and interventions in their total number of Social workers practicing in these work with clients, the differences between cog- domains in 2008 was 206,700. Over time, the nitive- behavioral and cognitive Therapy are most Social work profession has shifted from a focus on likely a matter of semantics and style rather than psychoanalytic models of practice to more practi- differences in core philosophies. What these stud- cal approaches (Ronen, 2007). ies indicate is the increasing use of CBT among The past three decades have shown the Social workers. Yet, at this point no one has really distinct influence of CBT on Social work theory asked this question: How does CBT fit with the and practice evident by the steady increase in the values of the Social work profession and its mis- number of Social workers who use CBT as their sion of Social justice?
8 Preferred model of practice (Granvold, 2011; Thy- Social work is among the most val- er & Meyers, 2011). A study by Strom (as cited in ue-based of all professions (Reamer, 1995, p. 3). Thyer & Meyers) surveyed clinical Social workers and for good reason. Social workers often hold and found out that 67% used a CBT orientation considerable power in their work as they regularly and 32% used a behavioral orientation. In 2009, work with the most vulnerable, powerless, and Bike, Norcross, and Schatz replicated an earlier oppressed populations (Compton, Galaway, &. study by Norcross and colleagues and found that Cournoyer, 2005). The NASW outlines strict reg- while only 10% of Social workers practiced from ulations and ethical obligations that hold its mem- a Cognitive-Behavioral perspective in 1987, that bers accountable for their actions.
9 These standards percentage more than tripled by 2007. Similarly, encourage clients and the general public to trust in a review of 16 major systems of psychotherapy and be confident in the integrity of the profession Prochaska and Norcross (2010) found that among (Beckett & Maynard, 2005). A comprehensive Social workers, clinical and counseling psycholo- code of ethical standards and guidelines provides gists, and counselors, Cognitive-Behavioral orien- an element of validation to the profession. Ran- tations comprised the second-largest approach, just dall and Kindiak (2008) suggest that the ultimate Journal of Social work Values & Ethics, Fall 2012, Vol. 9, No. 2 - page 22. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Social work Values: evidence of an occupation achieving professional 3.
10 CBT and the Importance of status is professional (p. 346). Human Relationships When Social workers do not abide by these ethical NASW (1996) suggests that an apprecia- principles, that self-regulation is undermined. For tion and respect for the value of the importance of this reason, the importance of ethical practice in human relationships compels Social workers to en- Social work is clearly essential. Values and eth- gage their clients as partners in the helping process. ics have been integral to the profession since its From the early evolution of Cognitive-Behavioral inception and are critical in shaping Social work 's Therapy (A. Beck, 1976; Ellis, 1962, 1994), the na- fundamental aims and mission (Reamer, 1995). ture of the therapeutic relationship has been defined Ethical principles must be implicit in the practice as a collaborative endeavor between the client and of Social work .