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Book Reviews   |    
Clinical Social Work: Beyond Generalist Practice With Individuals, Groups, and Families
Reviewed by Kimberly Lyons, L.I.C.S.W.
Psychiatric Services 2004; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.55.1.95
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by Lambert Maguire; Pacific Grove, California, Brooks/Cole, 2002, 334 pages, $51.95 softcover

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As society changes, so, of course, does social work. And so it must. Lambert Maguire, the author of Clinical Social Work: Beyond Generalist Practice With Individuals, Groups, and Families, enthusiastically calls for clinicians to move beyond their generalist backgrounds and develop more sophisticated and specialized practice techniques. Lambert sets out ambitiously to summarize the major clinical theories and techniques in the field and the current trends effecting changes in practice.

Maguire's book provides an excellent history of the field and of shifts in contemporary practice. The author makes a strong case for practitioners to use empirically validated techniques in their clinical work. He writes with inspiration about the uniqueness of the field and pays special attention to its biopsychosocial foundation, its regard for ethics and diversity, and its emphasis on social justice and equality.

In his energetic first chapters, Maguire discusses generalist, systemic, and advanced practices. He is masterful at describing a myriad of treatment modalities. He dedicates a chapter to each of the following: systems interventions with individuals, systems interventions with families, case management, group interventions, psychodynamic interventions, behavioral interventions, cognitive interventions, and brief interventions, as well as a final chapter on documentation, assessments, and treatment plans. For each perspective, Maguire provides a history of the relevant theory and describes pertinent theoretical frameworks and practice techniques. All this information is summarized and illustrated with realistic and clear case examples.

Unfortunately, Maguire's attempt at comprehensive discussion of both theory and practice does full justice to neither. For example, there is distressing variability in the quality of the chapters. Some theories are much better synthesized and more thoroughly reviewed than others. The negative treatment of psychodynamic intervention, for example, is so thinly argued as to seem mere bias. It is disappointing that the emerging field of trauma treatment is not recognized. In addition, Maguire misses the concept of integrative theory and practice altogether. Certainly a truly comprehensive study would have discussed the efficacy of specific modes of treatment for specific psychological problems, but Maguire does not take on that important task for every theory described. Nor does he include immigrants and refugees in his discussion of diverse populations.

Overall, Clinical Social Work is a systematic and up-to-date review of prevalent theories and practice techniques in the social work field. It would be appropriate for master's-level social work students and social workers across settings who are interested in learning about different treatment modalities as well as current issues affecting practice. This is a useful book for the breadth of the orientations it summarizes. However, for depth of inquiry into psychodynamic theory and trauma treatment, one might look for examples in Inside Out and Outside In: Psychodynamic Clinical Theory and Practice in Contemporary Multicultural Contexts, by Flanagan, Hertz, and Berzoff; Psychoanalytic Case Formulation, by Nancy McWilliam; and Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Herman.

Ms. Lyons is a clinical social worker at the International Institute of Boston and is in private practice.

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