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Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Faculty and Staff Directory

Holly Nelson-Becker, PhD

Title/s: Professor

Specialty Area: Aging, Loss/grief/palliative and end of life care, Wisdom and virtue research

Office #: Lewis Towers - 1239

Phone: 312.915.7008

E-mail: hnelsonbecker@luc.edu

CV Link: Nelson Becker CV updated 2014

External Webpage: http://works.bepress.com/holly_nelson-becker/


Dr. Nelson-Becker is a Professor in the School of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago. She earned her PhD at the University of Chicago and the MSW at Arizona State University.  She is a recognized expert in social gerontology and a Hartford Faculty Scholar in Geriatric Social Work who has investigated the pathways to resilience and well-being in older adults. Her research areas focus on spirituality and aging with an emphasis on end-of-life concerns and diverse cultural expressions.

She co-authored national standards for spiritual care in palliative care and is past Chair of the Interest Group on Religion, Spirituality, and Aging for the Gerontological Society of America. She served on the National Program Committee for the Hartford Doctoral Fellows Program in Geriatric Social Work and continues to mentor PhD students across the country in various aspects of gerontology and/or spirituality and clinical practice. She was awarded Fellowship in the Gerontological Society of America in 2013. The strengths perspective and positive psychological principles form the foundation for her research and teaching. She is currently working on a book in spirituality, religion, and aging.


University of Chicago, PhD

Arizona State University, MSW

Graceland University, BA- Modern Foreign Languages

Graceland University, BA- International Studies

Research Interests

Gerontology: living the best life possible, and loss/grief/end of life concerns

Current project: Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Training-Coleman Foundation

Professional & Community Affiliations

AGE-SW, Gerontological Society of America (GSA)

American Society on Aging (ASA)

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

Chicago End-of-Life Coalition

International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG)

British Society of Gerontology (BSG)

Society for Spirituality and Social Work (SSSW)

Editorial Board member: Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health

Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care

Journal of Religion, Spirituality, & Aging

Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work

Courses Taught


Selected Publications

Recent Selected Publications:

Ko, E. J., Kwak, J., & Nelson-Becker, H. (in press). What constitutes a good and bad death?  Perspectives of homeless older adults. Death Studies.

Ko, E. J., Nelson-Becker, H., Shin, M., & Park, Y. J. (2014). Preferences and expectations for delivering bad news among Korean older adults. Journal of Social Service Research, 40(4), 402-414. DOI: 10.1080/01488376.2014.894356.

Nelson-Becker, H., Ai, L. A., Hopp, F., McCormick, T. R., Schlueter, J. O., & Camp, J. K. (2013). Spirituality and religion in end-of-life care: The challenge of interfaith and cross-generational matters in changing environments. British Journal of Social Work, 1-16. DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bct110

Ko, E. J., Nelson-Becker, H. (2013). Does End-of-Life Decision Making Matter? Perspectives of Older Homeless Adults. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 31(2), 183-188. DOI 10.1177/1049909113482176

Ko, E. J., Nelson-Becker, H., Park, Y. J., & Shin, M. (2012). End-of-life decision making in older Korean adults: Concerns, preferences, and expectations. Educational Gerontology, 39(2), 71-81. DOI:10.1080/03601277.2012.682947

 McCormick, T., Hopp, F., Nelson-Becker, H., Ai, A., Schlueter, J., & Camp, J. (2012.). Ethical and spiritual concerns near the end of life. Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging, 24(4), 301-313.


 Pickard, J. & Nelson-Becker, H. (2011). Attachment and spiritual coping: Theory and practice with older adults, Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, 13(2), 138-155.  DOI: 10.1080/19349637.2011.565239

 Fukui, S., Starnino, V. & Nelson-Becker, H. (2011). Spiritual well-being of people with psychiatric disabilities: The role of religious attendance, social network size and sense of control. Community Mental Health Journal. DOI 10.1007/s10597-011-9375-z

Nelson-Becker, H. (2011). Advancing an aging-prepared community: Models and lessons from training initiatives in gerontological social work. Journal of Religion, Spirituality, and Aging, 23(1), 92-113. DOI: 10.1080/15528030.2011.533361

Journal Editorship-Special Issue

Nelson-Becker, H. (Ed.). (2013). Special Issue. Spirituality and Social Work and End-of-Life and Palliative Care. Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care, 9(2-3), 111-240.

Nelson-Becker, H. (2013): Spirituality in End-of-Life and Palliative Care: What Matters? Journal of Social Work in End-Of-Life & Palliative Care, 9(2-3), 112-116. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15524256.2013.794000


Recent Selected Peer-Reviewed Chapters

Nelson-Becker, H., & Gilbert, M. C. (in press).  Spirituality and older women:  The journey home to self.  In Spira, M., & Kilbane, T. (Eds.), Older women: Current and future challenges of professionals with an aging population. Bentham Press.

Nelson-Becker, H., Canda, E. R., & Nakashima, M (in press). Spirituality in professional helping interventions. In B. Berkman & D. Kaplan (Eds.), Handbook of social work in health and aging (pp.). Boston: Oxford Press.

Chapin, R., Nelson-Becker, H. Macmillan, K. & Sellon, A. (in press). Strengths-based and solution-focused approaches to practice with older adults. In B. Berkman & D. Kaplan (Eds.), Handbook of social work in health and aging (pp.). Boston: Oxford Press.

Nelson-Becker, H. (2013). Resilience in aging: Moving through challenge to wisdom. In D. S. Becvar (Ed.), Handbook of family resilience (pp. 339-357). New York: Springer. DOI10.1007/978-1-4614-3917-2_20

Nelson-Becker, H., Chapin, R., & Fast, B. (2013). The strengths model with older adults: Critical practice components. In D. Saleebey (Ed.), The strengths perspective in social work practice (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Spira, M., & Nelson-Becker, H. (2013). Nursing Homes. In J. L. Postmus (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Sexual Violence and Abuse. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Nelson-Becker, H., & Sullivan, M. (2012). Social Care. Oxford textbook of spirituality in healthcare (pp. 409-417). In M. Cobb, C. Puchalski, & B. Rumpold (Eds.). UK. Oxford University Press.

Nelson-Becker, H. (2011). Research in spirituality, religion, and aging: An emerging area. Generations Review. Available online at http://www.britishgerontology.org/DB/gr-editions-2/generations-review/research-in-spirituality-religion-and-aging-an-eme.html

Nelson-Becker, H., & Ferrell, B. (2011). Social work and nursing: Creating effective collaborations. In T. Altilio & S. Otis-Green (Eds.), Oxford textbook of palliative social work (pp. 477-481). New York: Oxford University Press.



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