The Call of the Faithful: The Integration of Spiritual and Social Work Practice in the Time of COVID-19

Main Article Content

Shirley Newton-Guest
Claudia Sofia Moreno
Marla Coyoy
Roxanna Najmi
Tonia Martin
Sikholiwe Vundla


spirituality, faith, vicarious trauma, unaccompanied minors, social work


This has been a season of change worldwide. It has become virtually impossible to ignore distressing news about the state of our world. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, work, how we think, and even how we grieve. Every day, Americans are bombarded with reports of rising death tolls, massive unemployment, economic turmoil, and dismal foreseeable predictions. This health crisis has put an enormous amount of pressure on the global community, and this is especially true for our clients who are new immigrants. This pressure has manifested in mental health challenges. Social workers have reported that for many clients the uncertainty and pressure are becoming too much to handle. Typically, clients are experiencing anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and in some cases interpersonal violence (Brodhead, 2020; Endale et al. 2020; Saltzman et al.,2020). Now imagine the impact on unaccompanied minors arriving at our borders. Prior to the pandemic, the unaccompanied children were dealing with three crises simultaneously: 1) parental and home country separation; 2) trauma from a harsh journey; and 3) language barrier and cultural shock. These issues alone are overwhelming and cause powerful emotions such as anxiety in these children. So how can these emotions be managed, coupled with the dangers of COVID-19? How can social workers provide comfort and support when they may be experiencing the same emotions? This article brings this hidden reality into the public view and enrich the existing social work body of knowledge by demonstrating the restorative power of faith, spirituality, and self-care.




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