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“A great text book that definitely sets itself apart from other HBSE texts with the in-depth focus on issues within each chapter.’”

— Melody Loya, West Texas A&M


HUMAN BEHAVIOR FOR SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE: A Developmental-Ecological Framework

Second Edition

Wendy L. Haight, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Edward H. Taylor, University of British Columbia-Okanagan

Contemporary social workers continue to face growing challenges of complex and diverse issues such as child maltreatment, poverty, unemployment, oppression, violence, mental illness, and end-of-life care across varied contexts. Wendy L. Haight and Edward H. Taylor present their book Human Behavior for Social Work Practice, Second Edition as a core text that will help students implement a consistent framework through which to approach multifaceted social issues in any environment, whether it be in inner city schools or rural nursing homes with individuals of different ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic status.

Human Behavior for Social Work Practice, Second Edition uses the developmental, ecological-systems perspective as an analytic tool to show students how social scientific evidence helps us understand human development and enhances social work practice. Students will learn that by effectively connecting theory to practice, they can develop successful strategies to use as they encounter complex issues currently facing social workers.

The authors have reorganized and expanded this new edition to better illustrate developmental thinking in social work practice throughout the lifespan. This book also now includes special topic chapters on human brain development and the increasing relevance of neuroscience to social work practice as well as important social justice issues specific to race and gender that occur throughout the lifespan. Also new to this edition, Haight and Taylor have developed instructor’s materials that can be tailored to include the social work experience of the instructor. It is comprehensive so that no additional resources are needed, and it is dynamically structured so information can be added where relevant to the course material.


  • New! Complete instructor’s manual with additional material not included in the book to further enhance students’ understanding
  • New! Introduction to the brain and its neuroscientific relevance to social work practice
  • New! Special topic chapters expound on social justice issues of race and gender
  • Interviews with seasoned practitioners highlight real-life experiences and introduce a variety of policy contexts
  • Text boxes present and discuss social issues such as substance abuse, poverty, and violence as they evolve across the life span
  • Updated syllabus and assignments


Click on any blue text to read a full PDF of the chapter!

Preface to the Second Edition

1.    Thinking Developmentally about Social Work Practice

The Historical Context of Social Work in the United States
Developmental, Ecological-Systems Analysis of Social Work Issues
Using This Text
Organization of the Text

2.   The Developmental, Ecological-Systems Framework: A Brief Historical Overview of Theories
    Biological Theories
Psychological and Social Psychological Theories
Sociocultural and Historical Theories
Ecological Theories
Social Systems Theory
Life-Span Developmental Theories
Summary and Discussion
3.   Brain Function and Development
    Historical Overview
The Cerebral Cortex in Brief
Memory and Anxiety
Brain Development
Brain Plasticity
Studying the Brain
4.   Using Social Science Evidence to Understand Human Development and Enhance Social Work Practice
    The Role of Research in Contemporary Social Work
Aims and Assumptions of Various Types of Social Science Evidence
The Multiple Roles of Empirical Evidence in Social Work
Elements of Social Science Research
Ethics in Social Science Research
A Mixed-Method Research Program Investigating Rural, Drug-Involved Families
5.   Social Work with Infants: Preventive Interventions to Support Attachment Relationships in the Family
with Susan A. Cole
    Preventive Interventions
Highlights of Development during Infancy
Development and Organization of Attachment Relationships
Implications for Preventive Interventions
6.   Social Work with Young Children: Expanding Relationships and Developmental Contexts
    Child Welfare with Young Children
Highlights of Development during Early Childhood
Implications for Supporting Young Children's Development during Foster-Care Placement
7.   Social Work with Children in Middle Childhood: Spiritual Development in the Community
    Highlights of Development during Middle Childhood
Developmental, Ecological-Systems Analysis of Spiritual Development in Middle Childhood
A Case of Spiritual Development in an African-American Community
Implications for Social Work with School-Age Children and Their Families
8.   Social Work with Adolescents: Mentoring in Schools
with Susan A. Cole
    School Social Work with Adolescents
Highlights of Development during Adolescence
The Development of Mentoring Relationships
Implications for School Social Work with Adolescents
9.   Social Work with Young Adults: Professional Development and Multicultural Education in Schools of Social Work
    Social Work Education with Young Adults
Some Theories of Development across the Life Span
Highlights of Development in Early Adulthood
Facilitating the Professional Development of Social Work Students
Implications for Social Work Education
Implications for Multicultural Social Work Education
10.   Race, Racism, and Resistance across the Life Span
with Jane Marshall
    "Race" as a Socially Constructed Concept
Racism, White Privilege, and Institutional Racism
Racial Identity Development
Racial Identity Development in African Americans
Racial Identity Development in European Americans
Biracial and Multiracial Identity Development
Racial Identity Development in Immigrants of Color
Responses to Oppression
11.   Social Work with Midlife Adults in Mental Health Contexts: Understanding and Treating Depression
    Mental Health Care with Midlife Adults
Highlights of Development in Middle Adulthood
Developmental, Ecological-Systems Analysis of Depression in Middle Adulthood
Implications for Social Work
12.   Medical Social Work with Older Adults: Alzheimer's Disease
    Medical Social Work with Older Adults
Overview of Development in Later Adulthood
Alzheimer's Disease: Developmental, Ecological-Systems Analysis
13.   Women and Gender across the Life Span
with Kathleen Reutter
    Gender Identity Development
The Process of Gender Identity Development
Some Gender-Sensitive Issues
14.   Conclusion
    A Developmental, Ecological-Systems Framework Guides Problem Solving in Social Work
Modern Social Work Is Evidence Based
Social Work Issues Affect Multiple Interacting Systems
Social Work Issues Affect Individuals across the Life Span
A Global Perspective Is Necessary to Social Work in the Twenty-First Century

About the Authors

Wendy L. Haight (PhD, University of Chicago) is professor and holds the Gamble-Skogmo Chair in Child Welfare and Youth Policy, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. The focus of her career has been to build a more culture-inclusive understanding of diverse children’s development and to use this understanding to enhance social work practice. This has required deeply and respectfully engaging with a variety of cultural perspectives and scrutinizing mainstream North American assumptions that undergird so much research in developmental psychology, education, and social work. She is author or coauthor of eight books including Raise Up a Child: Human Development in an African American Family, also available from Lyceum.

Edward H. Taylor (MSW, University of Denver; PhD, University of Southern California, Los Angeles) is associate professor and director of the University of British Columbia-Okanagan School of Social Work. Previously he served as associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, and chief of social work for the Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, and he spent ten years as a clinical social worker and researcher with the National Institute of Mental Health, Intramural Research Program. Throughout his career, Taylor has specialized in assessing, treating, and researching children and young adults with severe mental disorders.

2013 paperback, 455 pages, ISBN 978-1-935871-25-5, $59.95