Meet Summer 2009, Volume 10, Number 1

Bent-Goodley began her interest in social work after completing her bachelor’s degree in theology and minor in education from Queens College in New York. “Social work chose me,” said Bent-Goodley.

by Michelle Theilmann

Meet Tricia Bent-Goodley, Ph.D., LICSW-C

Professor and Chair of the Macro Sequence at the Howard University School of Social Work



arly in Tricia Bent-Goodley’s career as a practitioner, she was told that domestic violence didn’t happen in the African American community. However, while working in child abuse prevention, Bent-Goodley found domestic violence indeed was happening in African American communities and at an alarming rate. This triggered her interest in research.

“We weren’t necessarily prepared to address the issues and understand them; that’s really what led me to understand this issue,” said Bent-Goodley. “Seeing how devastating the effects are on African American families and our communities is what motivated me to want to develop responses that would address the issue.”

Bent-Goodley began her interest in social work after completing her bachelor’s degree in theology and minor in education from Queens College in New York. “Social work chose me,” said Bent-Goodley. “I enjoyed working in communities and community practice; it’s very much part of who I am.”

Bent-Goodley states that it was her sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha that provided the training ground for social work. “The training I received within my sorority was really helpful to me; it taught me community development and how to bring people together.”

Today, Bent-Goodley, Ph.D., LICSW-C is an associate professor and chair of the Macro Sequence at the Howard University School of Social Work in Washington, D.C. Dr. Bent-Goodley’s research is focused on domestic violence against women and its intersection with cultural competence, social policy, child welfare, prisoner reentry, youth violence, health and mental health, and faith and community-based involvement.


Bent-Goodley received her Ph.D. in social policy, planning and analysis from Columbia University and her MSW in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.

She hopes her research will help professionals understand how culture, child welfare, health and mental health, and other societal issues intersect with domestic violence. By acknowledging the role that communities and faith-based groups play and putting a focus on informal traditional helping traditions, “we as a community can become more educated and understand what it means to us.” It’s by helping these groups better understand domestic violence, that we can develop a more effective response to the issue. 

Bent-Goodley became involved with IDVAAC while doing her dissertation several years ago as a doctoral student. It was IDVAAC Executive Director Dr. Oliver J. Williams who initially interested her in the program, through his dedication to the issue of domestic violence.

“Oliver has made incredible contributions; he is largely the reason why I became involved with IDVAAC,” said Bent-Goodley. It’s the organization’s creative messaging, remaining on the cutting edge of the issues, and reaching different audiences that keeps Bent-Goodley involved with IDVAAC. “IDVAAC is innovative in its use of art and the ability to bring people from various backgrounds together,” said Bent-Goodley. “I’m also impressed with the high quality of the conferences and materials produced.”

As for her future plans, Bent-Goodley would like to continue to conduct research on how faith-based initiatives affect domestic violence. She also would like to see further research on how social policies impact people of color and continues to remain an important element in domestic violence. “I would like to bring more people of color to this field as students, and make sure there is a mentorship of scholars,” said Bent-Goodley.

As a dedicated advocate and researcher of social issues, Bent-Goodley continues her contributions to the field as HIV Intervention Science Training Fellow, chair of the Intersection Task Force/Family Violence Coordinating Council of the Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, and as a member of the Prince Georges County Domestic Violence Fatality Council and the Safe Schools Initiative.

Bent-Goodley is also an author and co-author of a number books and journal publications on the issues of social work, social policy and people of color, including African-American Social Workers and Social Policy and The Color of Social Policy: Advancing Social Work Education. She also serves as editor on a number of journals.

“What drives me is being close to my children and family, as a wife, a mother, an aunt, and a mentor of both girls and boys; that’s what drives me,” said Bent-Goodley.


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