NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Barbara M. Henley
Barbara Henley was responsible for groundbreaking expansions in social work services and the social worker's role during her tenure as director of the social work department at Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, Texas from 1967 to 1992. While there she developed a hospital-based substance abuse counseling program, a 24-hour social work crisis intervention for the emergency room, a home-care program for the high-tech ventilator patients, an interdisciplinary geriatric clinic, a rape counseling program, and a hospital-wide employee educational program regarding domestic violence, among other contributions. Her work in the domestic violence area was especially noteworthy as this was not frequently discussed or addressed in Houston at the time.
Henley worked at New York Hospital from 1951 to 1958 and conducted a study on the psychological needs of the ambulatory elder ill while there.
Later, moving to Texas, as Houston experienced an economic crisis after financial boom years, Henley ensured that Ben Taub Hospital served the poor and oppressed as well as the city’s elite. They were invited to participate in innovative programs and employees were given opportunities to access preventive care, especially in the mental health area.
Henley remains active as a special advisor to the dean of the University of Houston, where she has spent a large part of her career. She also directs fundraising events for student scholarship development and is a clinical instructor for graduate students. She continues to provide services for the Social Work Learning Center at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
Barbara Henley earned her MSSW from Adelphi University in New York in 1953. She received her MA from Cornell University in 1951.
Significant Achievements and Awards
1990: NASW Lifetime Achievement Award
1982: Social Worker of the Year, NASW Houston chapter
1981: President of the NASW Houston chapter
Henley, B., Powell, T., & Poats, L. (1991). Achieving cultural diversity: Meeting the challenges. In Diversity, Disunity, and Campus Community, Melvin C. Terrill and Margaret H. Duggar (Editors). Washington, DC: National Association of Student Personnel, p. 1-30.
Henley, B.M. & Davis, M.S. (1967). Satisfaction and dissatisfaction: A study of the chronically-ill patient. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 8(1), 65-75.
Henley, B.M. (1961). Interprofessional give-and-take in research of patient care. Social Work, 6(1), 89-96.