Beth Barol, PhD

Beth Barol

Beth Barol, PhD

MSW Program Director
Associate Professor

Research Interests

Exploring ways to better support people who are underserved and voiceless, with an emphasis on people with Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD). 

I am very happy to be a member of the Widener University Center for Social Work faculty. I have been a long time friend and admirer of the program, guest lecturing and teaching on a part-time basis for many years. Since 2004, I have been fully involved in this very progressive school of social work, with its faculty of authentic social workers.

I find the students at the center to be highly dedicated, intelligent, and willing to go through the stresses and strains of graduate education to better serve their chosen clients. I have learned a great deal from my students each semester as each of us strives to be better social workers.

My passion for social work started in the footsteps of my father, who spent most of his career working within the Settlement House Movement in Philadelphia. I saw him do his part fighting oppression, and set out in high school with a mission to do the same.

My own engagement in this mission over the past 38+ years has been in the service of people with intellectual and developmental disability, especially those with "challenging behaviors." These men, women, and children, of all backgrounds, are among the most oppressed and voiceless members of our society. If we can find a way to help them be heard, we will be facilitating a climate where every voice in society is heard. We need this now more than ever.

My work has taken me from being a live-in house parent, to being a facility director, to being the clinical director for the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Retardation Statewide Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, as well as a consultant at home and internationally. I endeavor to use these experiences in my teaching to help bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Group dynamics, conflict resolution, developing compassion and empathy through the use of biographical timelines and other interventions, management, and leadership, as well as therapeutic approaches around trauma, mental illness, and neurological differences—including autism—have been the focus of my work and make up the greatest part of my research agenda.

I am currently teaching two of our core courses; Interpersonal Processes, Treating Trauma, and several electives; a course on Supporting people with Intellectual and Developmental Disability, and one on The Biographical Timeline which also has a child welfare focus.

I am pleased to add that the Center for Social Work Education has given me the freedom to launch a certificate in Supporting Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, as well as to start up a free community clinic serving vulnerable adults under the Center’s SWCS umbrella.


  • 1998 PhD in Clinical Social Work, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr, PA, ("Carola Woerishoffer Fellow" for 1989-1990)
  • 1986 MSS in Clinical Social Work Management, Bryn Mawr College, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, Bryn Mawr, PA
  • 1976 Bachelors of Arts (Major in Urban Studies), Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Professional Activities

  • Member of Camphill Soltane Board of Directors, chair person of the Quality committee. (2013 to present).
  • Founder and editor-in-chief of the Pennsylvania Journal of Positive Approaches (1996 to 2004).
  • Member of the Board of Directors for the Commonwealth Institute of Pennsylvania (1990-1992).
  • Member of the Office of Mental Retardation Planning Advisory Committee Subcommittee on Quality Enhancement, appointed by the deputy secretary of mental retardation (1995-1997).
  • Chairperson of the Positive Approaches Subcommittee for OMR, appointed by deputy secretary of mental retardation (1990-1993) .
  • Founding member of the Positive Approaches Subcommittee for the Pennsylvania OMR appointed by the deputy secretary of mental retardation (1988 - 1995) .
  • Member of the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Association for Resources for People with Mental Retardation (1985-1987) .

Recent Publications

  • Barol, B. & Seubert, A. (2010). Stepping stones: EMDR treatment of Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and challenging behavior. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research.4(4), 156-169.
  • Barol, B. (2009). Generalist practice with groups. In J. Poulin (Ed.) Strengths based generalist practice: A collaborative approach.(3rd ed.) Belmont, CA.: Brooks/Cole.
  • Silver, P. & Barol, B. (2009). Generalist practice with abused and neglected children and their families. In J. Poulin (Ed.) Strengths based generalist practice: A collaborative approach.(3rd ed.) Belmont, CA.: Brooks/Cole.
  • Focht-New, G., Clements, P.T., Barol, B., Service, K. & Faulkner, M. (2008). Persons with developmental disabilities exposed to interpersonal violence and crime: Strategies and Guidance for assessment. Journal of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. 44(1), 3-13.
  • Focht-New, G., Barol, B., Clements, P.T. , Faulkner, M. & Service, K. (2008). Persons with developmental disabilities exposed to interpersonal violence and crime: Approaches for intervention (Part II of II). Journal of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. 44 (2), 89-98.

Recent Presentations

  • Barol, B. (2014) Keynote presenter: Overcoming the obstacles of the present: The biographical timeline as an instrument to activate our best feelings, intuitions, and knowledge about a person needing our support. International conference for curative education and social therapy. Dornach, Switzerland.
  • Barol, B. (2012-2014) Facilitators training for biographical timeline facilitators, Frickingen Germany and Frankfurt Germany.
  • Barol, B. (2012) Presenter: Innovative approaches: Challenging the system. Redefining commitment: Moving forward Conference. Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony,PA.
  • Barol, B. (2012) Presenter: It's Not Once and Done: The Importance of Lifelong Relationships to Healing from Trauma. MAX Conference for Developmental Disabilities and Behavioral Health Professionals. Double Tree Guest Suites, Plymouth Meeting, PA.
  • Barol, B. (2011) The biographical timeline: Building a context for supports and therapy. International Conference on Social Work and Community Development.Chongquin, China
  • Barol, B. (2011) Presenter: Direct support professionals: Enriching Lives & Endnote for Conference:Creating our Legacy Conference. Mt. Laurel Resort, Whitehaven, PA.
  • Barol, B.(2010) Setting the stage for our work; Working with individuals with challenging behaviors. Beit Elisha, Regional Conference Day, Harduf, Israel
  • Barol, B. (2010) Educational action research: The biographical timeline as a qualitative research tool. Rudolf Steiner University College and Ruskin Mill Educational Trust (REMET), Nailsworth, United Kingdom.
  • Barol, B. (2009) Setting the stage for our work and the Biographical Timeline. Rudolf Steiner University College, Oslo, Norway.
  • Barol, B. (2009) Peer to peer abuse and violence: Awareness, prevention, relief, and recovery. Western Regional Office of Developmental Programs and APS Healthcare Southwestern PA HCQU. Four Points Sheraton, Mars PA.
  • Barol, B. (2009) The prevalence and treatment of trauma: the social therapeutic aspects of craft and mentorship, Practical Therapeutic Research Project. Ruskin Mill,United Kingdom.
  • Barol, B. & Silver, P. (2008) The biographical timeline: A tool for building empathy in child welfare practitioners. CSWE Annual Program Meeting (APM). Philadelphia PA
  • Barol, B. (2008) Setting the stage for our work. MAX conference for MH/MR/D&A Professionals: Maximizing your potential...There is no place like home. Montgomery County Community College: Blue Bell, PA.