In Memoriam - Sonia Abels

(October 2019) Sonia was a social worker who had a long association with IASWG. She joined the organization from its inception and made many presentations at symposia. Sonia was married to Paul Abels, a past President of IASWG.

Sonia Leib Abels, MSW (University of Illinois Chicago Circle), formerly Associate Professor at the Department of Social Work, Cleveland State University, served on the full-time faculty from 1970-1987. During her tenure, CSU developed one of the nation’s first Council on Social Work Education-accredited BSW programs, in 1974. Prof. Abels was also Visiting Professor at Haciteppe University, Ankara, Turkey; Vytatus Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania, and Walla Walla College, Washington. After leaving CSU for California, she served as Clinical Professor at the University of Southern California. Prof. Abels went on to serve as Founding Editor in 1995 of the double-blind peer-reviewed multidisciplinary journal Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, first published at California State University Long Beach and since 2012 published online at Cleveland State University ( Serving as editor through Spring 1999, she continued to serve on the Executive Board of the journal until 2012.

Long committed to the struggle for social justice, Prof. Abels served as co-editor of the Special Issue on Social Justice (Volume 16#3, 2010). In that issue, she and her companion of 70 years, her husband Paul Abels, eulogized her successor as editor, the late CSULB Professor Jillian Jimenez, saying: “Social justice, in all its rich meaning, is the purpose of social work....The narratives [in the special issue] help in the memorializing. Jillian’s life had full meaning for those who knew her...We honor the work done to build a more just society.” Prof. Abels was editor of two books in a narrative series: Spirituality in Social Work Practice (2000) and Ethics in Social Work Practice (2001), both published in Denver by Love Publishing. She authored (with Paul Abels): Understanding Narrative Therapy: A Guidebook for the Social Worker (New York, NY: Springer Publications, 2001), currently available as a Proquest Ebook Central online volume. The research focus of Prof. Abels was on social connections and social capital. She developed a social work ethics database, sponsored by California State University, Los Angeles, and the National Association of Social Workers, California chapter.  She was also a longstanding member and frequent attendee of the conferences of the International Association for the Advancement of Social Work with Groups.