Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Stage fright and mental ghosts: managing stage fright as a growth process

William: I played in a violin recital a couple of weeks ago. I had played the music many times before but in that concert I really messed up my finger work passages – one in particular – and then I started feeling that my memorization was shaky. I was a nervous wreck and couldn’t wait to finish. I cannot figure this out. I feel haunted that it is going to happen again and again.

JJN: This sounds terribly upsetting – both your concerns about your playing and your worries about trying to figure it out on your own and not being able to do that. Has this kind of thing happened before? Do you typically try to figure things out on your own?

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Bullying beyond the schoolyard

When you stretch a rubber band, even after many times, it will likely return to its original form. We call this resilience. When children are stretched and bent out of shape due to bad experiences they encounter, we expect they will be resilient too and snap back to their previous self. However, after various types of difficult or traumatic interactions, children are not the same. The analogy of the rubber band does not hold up.

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Balancing compassion and self-care in a troubled world

Originating from the Latin “compatī,” (to suffer together), compassion can lead to a greater understanding of human suffering. However, the vulnerability that comes along with compassion can often lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. In the video below, psychologist Robert J. Wicks describes the consequences of inordinate compassion.

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The point of depression

There has been a great deal of speculation about the evolutionary significance and origins of depression. What selective advantage does it confer? Does it allow the patient to concentrate on complex and important problems? Is it a type of pain that, like physical pain, causes us to pull back from danger? Is it a type of behavioral quarantine, causing us to hole up in a safe place while dangers stalk around outside?

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When our tribes become bullies

Tribalism’s slide into bullying has become seemingly pervasive. We’ve all seen how it contaminates schools, sports, and work. In all of these collective institutions there is a drive to form tribes—often motivated by a desire for constructive kinship, but just as frequently for purposes of control, and exclusion. The change begins at home with parents who understand that hate causes violence.

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A short walk per day: a look at the importance of self-care

“What have you been doing that has been especially important over the past several years?” In the following video and shortened excerpt from Night Call, Robert J. Wicks explains how this question helped him realize the importance of striking a balance between compassion for others and self-care.

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Pushed to extremes: the human cost of climate change

However, a parallel and equally disturbing trend is happening ecologically in the US, with the rejection of climate change science and the withdrawal from the Paris Accord. Though climate change may at first appear to be a separate issue from the xenophobia and anti-refugee mindset, they are more inextricably tied to one another than we are led to believe.

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The weight of the world: social workers’ experiences of social suffering

Long-standing concerns around the bureaucratic and often unhelpful nature of children and families social work were brought to a head in Prof Eileen Munro’s (2011) review of child protection. With colleagues, I recently completed a project involving social work academics and children and families social workers from neighbouring local authorities to try and facilitate such a shift in child protection cultures.

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Why should I trust you? AMBIT: helps where it’s hard to help

Teachers to nurses, youth workers to psychiatrists, psychotherapists to social workers—you name it, we are legion; the “helping professions”. We’ve made progress over the past century, finding effective ways to help many – perhaps most – of the difficulties our clients face, but we shouldn’t be complacent. Even the most “evidence-based” of our interventions are only effective for 50-60% of the cases that they are used with.

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Latino fathers and parenting: lessons learned from Puerto Rican fathers

atherhood is a complex and an evolving concept which has gained national attention. Fathers play an important role in the development of their children, which also has an impact on their identity as a father. Minority fathers, particularly Latino fathers, have been under-recognized in this call to better understand fatherhood. However, given that Hispanics are the largest minority group in the US, the experiences of these fathers are of heightened importance.

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Slipping expectations for child outcomes

Certainly we should be happy that kids from “at risk” environments graduate from high school and do not end up in prison for life. But is this enough to aim for? We may not score their life outcome as minus 5 (on a -10 to +10 scale), but Chiron’s life outcome does not warrant much more than a zero. Why? Because his intelligence, unique gifts, and potential were not fostered (which would go on the plus side of zero).

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Digging for the truth?: Mother and Baby Homes in Ireland

In the summer of 2014, reports that a ‘septic tank grave’ containing the skeletal remains of ‘800 babies’ was discovered within the grounds of a former home for ‘unmarried mothers’ in Tuam, County Galway, featured prominently as an international news ‘story.’ Interest in the issue was prompted by the tireless and tenacious work of a local amateur historian, Catherine Corless.

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The face of today’s elder caregiver

A recent AARP billboard reminds us that the duty to care for an aging or ill parent begins with remembering the care provided to us when we were children. How does this caregiving expectation, grounded in reciprocity, apply to the approximately 76 million Baby Boomers in the United States whose aging will dominate the next few decades?

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State of the union for Social Work Month 2017

We face a host of intertwined issues of social justice today, most of which are not new but deeply embedded historically. Poverty is ubiquitous, and economic inequality has increased both nationally and globally. Children continue to bear the brunt of poverty, especially children of color. Struggles for women’s rights continue around the world in the face of persistent gender inequality, oppression, and violence.

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Encyclopedia of Social Work

What is social justice?

Notions of social justice generally embrace values such as the equal worth of all citizens, their equal right to meet their basic needs, the need to spread opportunity and life chances as widely as possible, and finally, the requirement that we reduce and, where possible, eliminate unjustified inequalities. The following excerpt explores the meanings and principles of social justice from a political, philosophical, and social worker perspective.

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Encyclopedia of Social Work

Why social work is essential

March is Social Work Month in the United States. Social workers stand up every day for human rights and social justice to help strengthen our communities. They can be the voice for people who aren’t being heard, and they tackle serious social issues in order to “forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live.” There are over 600,000 social workers in the US alone.

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