"I was drawn to social work by its focus on individuals and their differences and the opportunity to help others overcome significant challenges, no matter their position in life. I believe we all have a right and need to be whole--biologically, psychologically, socially and spiritually. My research and practice focus on the spiritual and mental health needs of persons with chronic illness.
As I listened to the people I serve, many of them chemically dependent, in need of mental health treatment and battling chronic illness, it became apparent that interactions with the system had provided little to no opportunity to address their spiritual problems or faith issues. It is my hope that by integrating spirituality into social work research, education and practice, we can better equip social work students to help others navigate their respective paths from broken spiritual ties and lost community to restoration, reconnection and wholeness."
PhD, The University of Texas, School of Social Work
MSW, The University of Texas
BA, The University of Texas
Full Curriculum Vita
Dr. Runnels joined the School of Social Work faculty in 2012 following the completion of her doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to coming to Baylor, Dr. Runnels was an assistant instructor in the School of Social Work at UT. She was a CSWE Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration Minority Fellow from 2009-2012. Dr. Runnels has extensive experience as a community outreach worker, counselor, case manager, trainer and administrator in the fields of substance abuse and HIV prevention and services. Her primary research interests focus on health disparities, mental health service delivery and cultural competence.