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Kia Bentley portrait

Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D., LCSW


Email: kbentley@vcu.edu

Phone: (804) 828-0453

Ph.D., Florida State University
M.S.S.W., University of Tennessee
B.A.S.W., Auburn University

Kia J. Bentley, Ph.D., is a tenured professor of social work at Virginia Commonwealth University where she has taught since 1989. She has also served the school in the past as director of the Ph.D. Program (for 13 years) and as Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives. She is the author of the 2014 book, now in its fourth edition, The social worker & psychotropic medication: Toward effective collaboration with clients, families and providers (with Joseph Walsh, Cengage-Brooks/Cole). The text is the primary source for the M.S.W. elective course called “Social Work Practice and Psychopharmacology” which she developed and has taught for over 20 years, including in an online format. She also developed the elective “Social Work Practice in Community Mental Health” centered on the recovery model of practice and contemporary psychotherapeutic, psychoeducational and skills training approaches to helping. Finally, she teaches the required course “Mental, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders,” a class she also developed centered on the lived experiences of people served by the mental health system and a critical perspective of the DSM. In the doctoral program, she taught a course in practice theory and model development for over 25 years as well as developed a course in academic writing for multi-disciplinary doctoral students.

Dr. Bentley has edited two other books: Psychiatric medication issues for social workers, counselors and psychologists (Haworth Press), and Social work practice in mental health: Contemporary roles, tasks, and techniques (Brooks/Cole). She has published 50 journal articles and book chapters on the interface of social work, psychiatric medication and mental illness and has presented extensively at national conferences on the topic. Recent research projects include a study on family experiences related to psychiatric medication, the medication-related experiences of incarcerated women, and another about the professional identity of psychiatrists and their approach to communication with clients about medication. These follow-up studies of decision-making about psychiatric medication among pregnant and postpartum women, and one on psychiatric medication, meaning and identity. She is a long-time consulting editor for the Journal of Social Work Education, where she has twice been awarded “Reviewer of the Year.” Dr. Bentley also serves as a guest reviewer for many other journals, including Psychiatric Services, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Best Practices in Mental Health and the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.

Dr. Bentley has been active in the national social work educator’s professional organization, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), for decades. Most recently she served on the Board of Directors and Chair of its Commission on Research, where she worked with colleagues to help establish the organization’s research priorities and create supports and recognitions for teaching research. She has also been an active accreditation site visitor for CSWE since the early '90s, and formerly served two terms on their Women’s Commission and one term on their Commission on Accreditation. She also chaired the national professional association of doctoral program directors called Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE), where she commissioned the 2013 update of the GADE Guidelines for Quality in Ph.D. Programs in Social Work. Dr. Bentley has been recognized by CSWE’s Women’s Council for her mentorship of doctoral students and early-career faculty members, which she continues to do with enthusiasm.  

Notable awards, honors and appointments

  • October 2017 Named “Best Reviewer” by The Journal of Social Work Education and recognized at a special reception at the Annual Program Meeting of CSWE in Dallas Texas

  • January 2017, named to the Fellowship of the Society for Social Work and Research, for “members who have served with distinction to advance the mission of the Society -- to advance, disseminate, and translate research that addresses issues of social work practice and policy and promotes a diverse, equitable and just society.”
  • November 2016 Awarded “Best Conceptual” article of the year by journal for: Bentley, K. J., Secret, M. & Cummings, C. (2015). The centrality of social presence in online teaching and learning for social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 51, 494-504.

  • November 2016 Awarded “Best Quantitative” article of year by the journal for: Petr, C.G., Harrington, D., Kim, K., Black, B., Cunningham-Williams, R., & Bentley, K.J. (2015). Quality indicators and expected outcomes for social work PhD programs:  Perceptions of social work students, faculty, and Deans/Directors. Journal of Social Work Education, 51, 648-667.

  • May 2014 Authored book The social worker and psychotropic medication chosen as one of “100 Great Books for the Social Worker’s Library” by mswprogramsonline.com


Selected publications

Bentley, K.J., & Hughes, S. (in preparation).  Truth-telling about psychiatric medication:  An aspirational guide for mental health practitioners. Manuscript in development.

Bentley, K.J. & Thissen, R. (under review). Family conundrums with psychiatric medication: An inquiry into experiences, beliefs, battles and desires.   Manuscript under review.

Casey, R.C., & Bentley, K.J. (in press). Individual factors associated with women’s use of mental health services during incarceration: Targeting programmatic resources. Corrections: Policy, Practice and Research.

Bentley, K.J., Mansini, M., Jacob, A. & McLeod, D.M. (2019).  Teaching research through the lens of social justice, human rights and diversity. Journal of Social Work Education, 55(3), 433-448. 

Casey, R.C. & Bentley, K.J. (2019). Psychotropic medication experiences of incarcerated women: Qualitative inquiry into conundrums of access and identity. Women and Criminal Justice, 29(1), 1-13. 

Cummings, C.R. & Bentley, K.J. (2018). A recovery perspective on wellness:  Connection, awareness, congruence, Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation and Mental Health, 5, 139-150. 

Bentley, K.J., Cummings, C.R., Casey, R.C. & Kogut, C. (2018). Professional identity and shared decision-making among psychiatry residents:  Designing a brief teaching module. Journal of Mental Health Education, Training and Practice, 13(2), 112-123

Charles, J.K.L. & Bentley, K.J. (2018). Measuring mental health provider-based stigma:  Development and validation of a self-assessment instrument. Community Mental Health Journal, 54, 33-48.

Jordan, J., Patel, N., & Bentley, K.J. (2017). Emerging adult identity following adolescent experiences with psychotropic medications. Journal of  Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 27(7), 694-705. 

Bentley, K.J. & Casey, R.C. (2017). Incarcerated women’s experiences and beliefs about psychotropic medication: An empirical studyPsychiatric Services, 68(4), 384-389. 

Bentley, K.J., Cohen-Filipic, K., & Cummings, C.R. (2016). Approaching parental guilt, shame, and blame in a helping relationship: Multiple methods for teaching and learning. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 36(5), 490-502. 

Charles, J.L.K. & Bentley, K.J. (2016). Stigma as an organizing framework for understanding the early history of community mental health and psychiatric social work. Social Work in Mental Health, 14(2), 149-173.

Secret, M.C., Bentley, K.J. & Kadolph, J. (2016). Student voices speak quality assurance: Continual improvement in online social work education. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(1), 30-42. 

Cohen-Filipic, K. & Bentley, K.J. (2015). From every direction: Guilt, shame, and blame among parents of adolescents with co-occurring challenges. Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal, 32, 443-454. 

Bentley, K. J. (2014). Jasmika, the Docs and me:  A short story with a happy ending about partnership, collaboration, social work and psychopharmacology. In C. W. LeCroy (Ed.) Case studies in social work practice (3rd Ed., pp. 159-170). Belmont, CA:  Cengage-Brooks/Cole. 

Bentley, K.J., Price, S.K. & Cummings, C. (2014). A psychiatric medication decision support guide for social work practice with pregnant and postpartum women. Social Work, 59(4), 303-313.

Cummings, C. R. & Bentley, K.J. (2014). Contemporary health-related decision aids: Tools for social work practice. Social Work in Health Care, 53,  762-775. 

Harrington, D., Petr, C.G., Black, B., Cunningham-Williams, R., & Bentley, K.J. (2014). Quality Guidelines for Social Work PhD ProgramsResearch on Social Work Practice, 24(3), 281-286.

Bentley, K.J. (2013). Toward a model of doctoral program evaluation in social work: A 10 year retrospective of one Ph.D. program’s assessment experiences. Journal of Social Work Education, 49(1), 30-47.

Bentley, K.J. & Kogut, C. P. (2013). Psychopharmacology and contemporary social work. In T. Mizrahi & L. Davis (Eds.) Encyclopedia of Social Work.  NY: Oxford Press.

Bentley, K.J. & Collins, K.S. (2013). Psychopharmacological treatment for child and adolescent mental disorders. In C. Franklin, M.B. Harris &  P. Allen-Meares (Eds.) The school services sourcebook: A guide for school-based-professionals (2nd edition, pp. 53-72). New York: Oxford University Press. 

Price, S.K. & Bentley, K.J. (2013). Psychopharmacology decision-making among pregnant and postpartum women and health providers: Informing compassionate and collaborative women’s health care. Women & Health, 53(2), 154-172.

Bentley, K.J. (2010). Psychiatric medication and meaning-making in a residential program for adults with serious mental illness. Qualitative Social Work, 9(4), 479-499.