Callahan defines spirituality as distinct from religion and surmises that it is a philosophical dimension and is a characteristic “that reflects the divine” (Callahan, 2010). She proposes that spirituality can be found in interpersonal relationships, and that it is important to form these relationships with clients. She goes into an in-depth assessment of Buber’s “I-thou” relationship as an outline to how social workers should approach providing spiritual care to end-of-life individuals. These characteristics include “appreciating differences, seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary, conveying reverence, being authentic, and being responsive and expressing love” (Callahan, 2010). She also touches on effective communication and importance of establishing a connection before going on to the implications for social work research and practice. The purpose of this study was to inform social workers of the potential benefits of spiritually sensitive generalist practice when applied to palliative care. Callahan does a great job at outlining what her goals were and then providing information that accomplishes those designs. At the end of the article, the reader is aware of the purpose of this study and is armed with the knowledge and potential benefits of spiritually sensitive generalist practice. This study is a review, and it furthers the science of social work by outlining the way wherein the spiritual needs of patients going through the dying process can be met successfully. It also points out several deficiencies in the research of spiritually sensitive generalist practice that could be further expanded upon in the future.The main theory that Callahan uses to inform her research is Buber’s “I-thou” theory. This theory has much strength, including how it touches on emotional connection, effective communication, and how it applies the framework of the theory to practical applications. Although the practical applications have been outlined, the limits of this are,,,,,. But no significant research has been done to prove the effectiveness of this idea. Callahan has certainly done her research when it comes to this article. Not only did she cite many different authors and studies, but the article was also well written, well organized and interesting to read. Another strength of this article is that it breaks down examples of terminology in ways that are easy to understand and apply to social work practice and palliative care.
Although the strengths of this article make it an excellent read, as far ease of understanding, and capturing the interest of the reader, this review does have some considerable weaknesses. The primary weakness is that almost none of the theoretical work referenced any spiritually sensitive generalist practice that has been tested through research or fieldwork. The lack of data makes this study difficult to rely on because without evidence, it can not be concluded whether or not the theories presented are efficient in treating people at the “end of life stages.” Another main weakness of this article is that Callahan does not state how spiritually sensitive generalist practice could be applied to diverse populations. In addition to these two main errors, the article also had noticeable typographical errors, and some of the quotations she used sounded like opinions rather than theoretical frameworks.
Callahan references many other articles and theories, but she does not summarize any kind of experiments that were done on this topic. Her purpose was to inform social workers and the benefits of spiritually sensitive generalist practice, and she does this rather effectively, while still noting that additional research is necessary. In addition to this lack of research, the article also was lacking when applied to the general population. Callahan only cited “dying people” and the implications given throughout the article lead the reader to assume that this only applies to the elderly dying. It never reference to any specific race, age, sexual orientation or specific religious backgrounds.
Despite these limitations, this review aligns with social work values and ethics as it emphatically promotes NASW’s values; specifically stating that human beings should be treated with respect, and that the work of individuals should be a high priority. Furthermore, that care and meaningful relationships are important to this field of practice.
This article could be improved by having more data and research added in. This will aid in helping the idea of spiritually sensitive generalist practice become more reliable and ultimately evidence-based. This in turn can more efficiently prove the effectiveness of these theories when applied to palliative care. It would also be improved by covering a more diverse population, perhaps specifying the nuances of providing spiritual care for specific groups of dying people. This review would also benefit from an editor making grammatical corrections.
Callahan covers many aspects of providing spiritual care for the elderly dying, referencing a plethora of previous research in this area. She effectively explains the purpose of this study and introduces and discusses the theoretical value of Buber’s “I-thou” theory when applied to palliative care. Although the limitations of this theory and review include a lack of research findings and applicability to diverse populations, the strengths of having a well-written and well-organized article make it easy to understand the potential application of spiritually sensitive generalist practice.