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Elaine P. Congress

Dr. Elaine P Congress is a Professor and Associate Dean for Continuing Education and Extra-Mural Programs at Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. Dr. Congress is in charge of collaborative degree and certificate programs at Fordham and is involved in developing new initiatives. Also she is a founder of the Global Service specialization at Fordham and administrative co chair of the International Committee.

Dr. Congress has also served as Director of the Doctoral Program and as Director was able to convert the DSW doctoral degree to a PhD doctoral degree.  She has taught the following courses: Social Work Values and Ethics (Ph.D. and MSW programs) and Clinical Practice, Clinical Practice Seminar and Family Oriented Treatment (MSW program).

Dr. Congress is on the International Federation of Social Work (IFSW) team at the United Nations and the North American representative to the IFSW International Ethics Committee.   She has presented papers on social work ethics, as well as cultural diversity in a number of national and international conferences. Dr. Congress developed the culturagram, a family assessment tool to promote understanding of culturally diverse families. The culturagram was first featured in the November 1994 issue of Families in Society and revised in Advances in Social Work (2000) and Social Work Desk Reference (2002, 2008). This instrument has been used in work with children and families of color, immigrants and refugees, health care,  as well as in work with families affected by domestic violence and elder abuse.  Most recently Kaiser Permanente has adapted the culturagram to promote cultural understanding of patients and a podcast on the culturagram has been developed (

Dr. Congress is a past President of the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She has headed the NASW Ethics Committee and has also been active in PACE, the political action committee of NYC NASW.  She has also served on the National Board of NASW and on the Presidential Diversity Task Force.

Dr. Congress has written extensively in the area of social work ethics, cultural diversity and social work education, including seven books and over thirty professional journal articles and book chapters. Beginning with her doctoral dissertation on ethical decision making among social work supervisors, Dr. Congress has taught, presented at professional conferences, published and conducted research on ethical issues and dilemmas, as well as cultural diversity in social work practice and education and crisis intervention with diverse populations.

Her recent book Teaching Social Work Values and Ethics: A curriculum resource (second edition) was published by CSWE in 2009.  With Drs. Phyllis Black and Dr. Kim Strom-Gottfried Dr. Congress compiled course outlines, course modules, teaching exercises, and references on ethics for social work educators to use in teaching students about social work values and ethics.

Another recent book Social work with immigrants and refugees: Legal Issues, clinical skills, and advocacy coauthored with a lawyer looks at current legal and clinical issues in working with immigrant and refugees in multiple settings including health, child welfare, gerontology, school, and social services.

One of her books, Social Work Values and Ethics: Identifying and Resolving Professional Dilemmas (1999, Wadsworth) presents the ETHIC model of decision-making to use in identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas in social work practice.   This book focuses on dual relationships, teaching social work ethics, resolving ethical dilemmas, confidentiality, social group work, empowering communities, ethical issues in administration, and groups for immigrant children. Social work values and ethics was translated into Korean in 2005.

Her book Multicultural Perspectives in Working with Families (1997, 2005) published by Springer Publications examines assessment, life cycle, and practice issues from a cultural perspective.  This book looks at issues in working with culturally diverse clients in multiple settings, including schools, child welfare, gerontology, substance abuse, and social service agencies

Before entering academia, Dr. Congress worked as a practitioner, supervisor, and administrator at a community mental health clinic.  She developed one of the first bilingual day treatment centers for the chronically mentally ill.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R) in New York State.

Dr. Congress received her BA magna cum laude from Brown University, her MSW from Columbia University, and her DSW from City University of New York (Hunter College School of Social Work). She also has a M.A.T. in English from Yale University and a MA in Psychology from the New School for Social Research.

Dr. Congress has enhanced the educational curricula in ethics, group counseling, community organizations, empowerment, cultural diversity, and family therapy as an administrator and faculty member. She has drawn from years of clinical experience to enhance her research in theory building.  Dr. Congress has developed two helpful tools for social work practitioners, the culturagram that can be used to promote understanding of cultural differences among individuals and families and the ETHIC model that provides a simple guide for ethical decision making.  Dr. Congress is a pioneer, given her remarkable contributions to social work.