School of Social Work

No. 28 M.S.W. Program in the U.S.

Kia J. Bentley, left, and David Springer, FSU dean.

Even in retirement, Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D., is continuing to build on her 35-year career as a social work educator, one that culminated in her being named the VCU School of Social Work’s first Distinguished Career Professor by VCU’s Provost in 2022.

This past fall, the fifth edition of Dr. Bentley’s textbook, The Social Worker and Psychotropic Medication: Toward Effective Collaboration with Clients, Families and Providers, was published by Waveland Press. Shortly after, her Ph.D. alma mater, Florida State University’s College of Social Work recognized her with its Distinguished Social Work Educator Alumni Award

Kia J. Bentley and her spouse, Marti Truman, at the FSU awards event.

Dr. Bentley received the award from FSU Dean David Springer, Ph.D., at a dinner ceremony in Tallahassee last October. She said she was moved that night by a surprise video tribute by her former dissertation advisor and mentor, Dianne Harrison, Ph.D., now retired as president of Cal State Northridge. In accepting the award, Dr. Bentley also thanked other mentors: Bruce Thyer, Ph.D., FSU faculty; and Karen Sowers, Ph.D., fellow FSU doctoral graduate and retired dean at the University of Tennessee.  

Dr. Bentley, who spent 33 years at VCU, including 13 years as director of the school’s doctoral program, first published the textbook in 1996 with her friend and colleague Joe Walsh, Ph.D., who retired from VCU as professor of social work in 2018.

In terms of the success of her book, “The vision was to offer M.S.W. students real-world practice knowledge and skills about psychopharmacology and the important roles that social workers can play with clients who take different kinds of psychiatric medication,” Dr. Bentley says. “The book has now been through four important updates and expansions since that first edition, and indeed the content has become even more salient to social work practice across settings in this 2024 edition.”  

The text was chosen as one of the “Great Books for the Social Worker’s Library” by in May 2014. 

Shannon Hughes, Ph.D., of the Colorado State University School of Social Work, is the new second author, with Dr. Walsh remaining as third author.  “I was very excited to bring on a new imminently qualified scholar and researcher as a co-author, who brought so many fresh ideas and an even more critical perspective to the new, approachably priced book,” Dr. Bentley says.

The new edition includes:

  • Updated and expanded drug information and tables and never-before content on the FDA and drug approval process
  • Updated content on psycho-pharmacogenomics and new content on medication use with sexual minorities and gender-diverse folks
  • More explicit content critiquing the chemical imbalance theory and the term “anosognosia”
  • New specific guidelines for talking to children, teachers and parents about medication
  • More content on shared decision-making and what “truth-telling” about medication looks like in the 21st century
  • New content on “deprescribing” and helping clients discontinue their medication
  • A new and very timely section on the use of psychedelics in psychiatry
  • Significant attention to the human rights/social justice aspects of the interface of social work and psycho-pharmacotherapies

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