Behavioral Methods in Social Welfare offers positive proof that behaviorism has come of age in social work. Steven Paul Schinke and the contributors to this volume are social work practitioners who document their attempts to extend the basic tenets of behavioral psychology from the laboratory, clinic, and classroom to the full range of client groups and social problems that make up the practice of social work. In social work education, traditionally to the extent it appeared in the curriculum at all, behavioral content appeared in electives or in courses not focused on practice. It is a true measure of progress that behavioral methods are now a visible, integral component of social work education and practice.
The authors of each piece in this collection indicate progress in developing an empirically based approach to social work practice. Despite the impressive documentation contained in the present volume, no conclusive evidence as to the effectiveness of behavioral methods exists. What behavioral methods do offer, however, is a systematic format for both problem intervention and evaluation that, over time, should produce a more empirically based practice. A promising sign, well documented in the present effort, is the facility with which this book has subjected practice procedures to the rigor of research and evaluation.
This blending of clinical practice and research develops the sense of competence that student-practitioners acquire in understanding and controlling both the art and science of their clinical practice. Steven Schinke and his colleagues offer a a series of "snapshots" of important work in process. Their collective portrait provides a fresh perspective and new stimulus for all social work practice, as well as an affirmation that disciplined, responsive, and sensitive social work intervention can make a difference in the lives of people.