Neuroscience and Social Work

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Social work is often described as social neuroscience. Neuroscience deals with the study of the brain and nervous system. Studying neuroscience helps make a better connection for social workers in terms of their clients' behaviors and development. Brain development is affected by many different things including genes and environment (Egan, 2011).

Although the connection of neuroscience and social work is still new, there are still major points as to why it's an important topic to study. Social workers work closely with their clients and it's important for us to know how the brain functions. Social workers deal with many different types of clients from different backgrounds including financial and ethnic. It's important for social workers to learn the connection between the brain and how it affects others' behaviors. Social workers help their clients changed their beliefs, feelings, thoughts for them to be happy and healthy (Rogers, 2017). With the information that social workers learn from research, they will be able to have a better understanding of how the brain works and why people make certain choices or act a certain way. Having the support and evidence can help provide better interventions and developments (Egan, 2011). Neuroscience is constantly changing, and I will inform you as to why it's important, as social workers, we stay up to date.

The Bio-Psychosocial Approach

Brain development early on in childhood can have permanent effects on growth later in life (Egan, 2011). Stress and trauma can play a huge rule in the negative effects on the brain development. According to one study, even a stressful pregnancy can cause a fussy baby which can causes a stressful time early in development for the child as well as the mother (Egan, 2011). If a child is brought up in a neglectful/abusive environment, that could hinder their growth and development and cause issues for them as an adult. For example, if a child grows up in an abusive home, they are more likely to develop anxiety or depression as an adult or even as a child. Using the knowledge that we know from the study of neuroscience, we would have a better understanding of how certain situations effect people to better provide support for them.

The bio-psychosocial approach is the comprehensive, integrative framework for understanding human development, health, and functioning (Egan, 2011). That alone connects automatically with the study of neuroscience. By understanding brain functioning, there is more reasoning for policies, findings, and supports within the community. An important study within social work is that of neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is a term used to describe where the brain can change how it develops throughout life (Egan, 2011). This also connects back to early childhood development and how trauma, stress, or PTSD can cause a person to be more susceptible to the negative effects of these.

Implications for Social Work Practice

It's simply stated that there is a connection between social work and neuroscience. Neuroscience provides a staple or information on how things are connected and why people often act the way that they do. The more information that we know about brain development, the more information that we have for communities, families, and individuals. That information could be used to provide better group care for clients with similar or the same issues. Within the macro level, using the knowledge that we learn from neuroscience, once again it could provide information and facts to help back up the issues that are being brought to light. By integrating neuroscience into social work, it helps provide insights into biology's contribution to our bio-psycho-social model. This information can help social workers become effective communications as well as better educators for clients and families.


When it comes to a connection between social work and the study of neuroscience, we should be sure to stay up to date with the findings and the new knowledge coming from that study. Social workers deal with clients from many walks of life and having an idea of how people come to terms with the way they feel, think, act is key in understanding neuroscience. For social workers to provide the support and knowledge for others, we need to understand the connections between stress, trauma, PTSD and development.

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Neuroscience and Social Work. (2019, Mar 16). Retrieved February 22, 2024 , from

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