• The backstretch: Some call it home

      Schefstad, Anthony Joseph; Ephross, Paul H. (1995)
      The purpose of the study was to explore the relationship between resident horsecare workers and the backstretch. The backstretch is a community that is hidden from the public view. It is a "backstage" of the horse racing world. Data were collected from informants using a grounded theory approach. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method of analysis and working hypotheses was developed. As on-site counseling programs continue developing interventions for resident horsecare workers it is important to understand the backstretch from an emic perspective. Resident horsecare workers view their life as having improved living and working on the backstretch. This improvement is a result of basic human needs being met. The backstretch is a pre-industrial work place setting. Meeting human needs beyond the most basic is blocked on the backstretch by low wages, isolation, boredom, lack of upward mobility, few days off, company housing, and having a limited future. When opportunity is blocked, resident horsecare workers adapt by developing independence, practiced rituals, and using their genuine love of horses as a substitute for other satisfactions.
    • A comparison of verbal interaction and help-giving activities in leaderless self-help support groups and professionally-led support groups

      Haran, Judith F.; Ephross, Paul H. (1992)
      This study compared professionally-led support groups and leaderless self-help support groups to examine whether the presence or absence of a leader in the group made a difference in verbal interaction and member-to-member helping behaviors. This study utilized a comparative design and paired ten professionally-led groups with ten leaderless groups. Through the use of audio-tapes, group process was examined for differences in verbal interaction using the Hill Interaction Matrix. Members's perceptions of helping behaviors occurring in group meetings were measured with the Helping Processes Questionnaire. Members of the leaderless groups focused more on common interest topics while members of the professionally-led groups concentrated on personal topics, indicating that members may feel more comfortable sharing personal information in the presence of a trained leader, or that leaders more strongly encouraged the sharing of personal material. Members of the professionally-led groups did not focus on the group as a whole and avoided discussion of group tasks, processes, or intergroup relationships. The professionally-led groups had more risk-taking interactions, indicating that members felt comfortable enough to share their situations and confront other members. Within both types of groups, the most frequently occurring help-giving activities were behavioral prescription, normalization, encouragement of sharing and explanation. The least frequently occurring activities were requesting feedback, punishment, and extinction. Members of leaderless groups gave significantly higher ratings for encouragement of sharing, self-disclosure, establishment of group goals, assertion of group norms and mutual affirmation. According to the findings, professional leadership did not make a major difference in the verbal interactions and helping activities occurring in parent support groups. The findings also demonstrate the need for additional content about group dynamics and small group theory in social work education.
    • The effect of student-field instructor similarity on their respective perceptions of the field practicum in social work education

      Polinger, Eileen Joan; Ephross, Paul H. (1991)
      This study examined the effect of graduate social work student/field instructor similarity on their respective perceptions of the field practicum experience in social work education. This was done by surveying the students and field instructors in three Master of Social Work programs, pairing student responses with those of their own field instructor, and studying the results for congruency and significance. Similarity was conceptualized as one person or thing being like another, the sharing of some but not all characteristics, as having a general likeness, as closely resembling and as nearly corresponding. Perceptions were conceptualized as the ways people understand and view their surroundings--the ways people identity, comprehend, and grasp the meanings of things. The independent variable was similarity/dissimilarity between student and field instructor and the dependent variable was the congruency of their respective perception of field practicum elements. Similarity of student and field instructor was measured by socio-demographic factors, the Kolb Learning Style Inventory, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Congruence of perception was measured by means of questions on practice factors, a Q Sort, and a group of open ended evaluative questions. One hundred thirteen pairs (226 returns) constituted the analyzable data. There was indeed similarity in the perceptions of students and field instructors. Year of placement status was found to be related to perception of practicum elements. The premise that personality similarity and teaching/learning style preference similarity are related to similarity in the perception of practicum elements was neither supported nor refuted. Certain selected socio-demographic similarities were found to be related to perception of practicum elements and certain selected socio-demographic similarities were found to be related to positive perception of practicum elements. Areas of similarity that emerged as significant included age, religion, years of experience in social work, teaching/learning style. Year of placement status, gender, race, ethnicity, and area of specialization. Implications of study findings are discussed as they relate to current literature and to learning and role theories. Implications for future research and social work education are identified as are the limitations of the study.
    • The effectiveness of social group work with head trauma rehabilitation patients

      Futeral, Susan Todd; Ephross, Paul H. (1993)
      This study investigated the relationship between the use of social group work methods and self-esteem of closed-head injured adolescents and young adults. Head injury is damage to the brain as a result of traumatic injury. There are approximately 3 million head injuries each year, resulting in 30,000 deaths. Head injuries are often caused by vehicular accidents, falling objects, gunshot wounds, sharp instruments, or projectiles. The lengthy psychosocial rehabilitation period of head injured persons is often complicated by the combined effects of the pre-injury history as well as the post-trauma physical and psychological changes. The study was conceptualized as action research. The design of this study was a pre-test/post-test design using multiple group comparisons. Trained social workers collected data in group interviews, and patients completed self-report questionnaires. The instruments used were the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Piers-Harris Self-Concept Scale, and an exit interview. The sample size was 25 outpatients and 25 community persons, which had sustained head injuries. The theoretical frameworks are symbolic interactionism and social group work theory. The study sought to develop findings which may contribute to clinical social work practice, theory, group work, and related fields. The goal of the study was to add to the present body of knowledge about effective treatment of head trauma patients. The experimental and comparison group members were matched on demographic variables of age, race, gender, residence, etc. One of the most significant differences of the demographic variables studied was the level of education, specifically that the participants in the comparison group completed more years of formal education than the participants in the experimental group. Both groups were matched similarly in their pre-test scores on the Piers-Harris and Rosenberg scales and both groups showed improvement in the desired direction over time. Using T tests to compare the pre-test to post-test scores, the following differences were statistically significant: the total Piers-Harris score, three subscales of the Piers-Harris (the Behavior, Intelligence and Anxiety subscales), and the Rosenberg scale. Overall the hypothesis that group work enhances self-esteem was supported by this study. In conclusion, this author advocates the use of group work for head trauma recoveries as an effective therapeutic intervention to increase group members' self-esteem. This study has implications for future research for inpatient and outpatient settings.
    • Factors contributing to maternal protectiveness following the disclosure of intrafamilial child sexual abuse: A documentary study based on reports of Child Protective Service workers

      Heriot, Jessica K.; Ephross, Paul H. (1991)
      This study investigate maternal protectiveness following the disclosure of intrafamilial child sexual abuse. Two questions were posed: (1) What proportion of mothers act in a protective way following the disclosure of child sexual abuse, and (2) What factors are associated with maternal non protection? Maternal protectiveness was operationalized in two ways: (1) The mother takes action to physically separate herself and her abused child from the perpetrator, and (2) she feels and acts supportively toward her sexually abused child. The study investigated fourteen factors thought to be associated with maternal non protectiveness. They were grouped in three categories: individual maternal factors, child characteristics, and factors pertaining to the mother's relationship to the perpetrator. The study also investigated the relationship between maternal belief and maternal protectiveness. The study population was drawn from substantiated cases of child sexual abuse reported to Baltimore City and County Sexual Abuse Intake Units, Division of Child Protective Services. The sample consisted of 118 mothers whose children were abused by a family member or the mother's partner with whom the mother and the child were living when the abuse was reported to Child Protective Services. At the close of the intake period, data was collected on maternal protectiveness via a questionnaire given to intake workers. The majority of mothers took action to separate themselves and their children from the perpetrator (56.8%). Two-thirds of the mothers were supportive of their sexually abused children. Fifty-two percent of the mothers both separated from the perpetrator and were supportive of their children. Mothers whose feelings toward the perpetrator were warm and accepting were more likely to be non protective than mothers whose feelings were hostile and rejecting. Mothers of seriously abused children were more likely to be non protective than mothers of less seriously abused children. In addition, mothers who abused drug and/or alcohol and mothers of children abused by a husband or boyfriend were at risk for non protection. Finally, mothers of older children were less likely to be protective than mothers of younger children.
    • A study of the association between social functioning and manic-depressive illness in family constellations with presumed genetic vulnerability for affective illness

      Scott, Alice Malone; Ephross, Paul H. (1991)
      This exploratory-descriptive study examines the association between social functioning and subclassifications of manic-depressive illness in family constellations with presumed genetic vulnerability for affective illness. The research question is: Are there differences in the social functioning of family members with bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and their biological relatives who are not affectively ill? A study sample of convenience was drawn from the Genetic Linkage Study of Affective illness conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Twenty-one bipolar I's, 22 bipolar II's, and 20 unaffected participants were included. Instruments included interviewer administered scales (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Young Mania Rating Scale, and Health and Daily Living Assessment) and self administered scales (Social Adjustment Scale SR and Eysenck Personality Questionnaire). As hypothesized, findings reveal a statistically significant relationship between the diagnosis of bipolar illness and inadequate social functioning in the areas of close social relationships and overall social role adjustment. Both the bipolar I's and the bipolar II's had significantly fewer close relationships than their biological unaffected relatives. The two bipolar groups did not differ significantly from each other. When analyzed by Multiple Regression, personality as measured by the Eysenck Neuroticism Scale was found to be more highly predictive of overall social role adjustment than was the diagnosis of bipolar illness. Implications for social work and related practice in mental health settings and further research were drawn. Conceptual refinement of the global concepts social functioning within the interpersonal field and normality is greatly needed. Knowledge is lacking in the areas of nosology and the psychological and social environments which characterize individuals with subclassifications of bipolar illness. The impact of both ill and well intervals upon the family system needs to be explored.