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MSW Program Course Descriptions

Effective fall 2013

Introduction to the Social Work Profession – 3 credits
This foundation course introduces students to social work as a profession. The history, values, and the development of social work as a profession are discussed. The course emphasizes 1) self-awareness and identity as a professional social worker, 2) an introduction to the effects of oppression on social and economic justice and 3) identifying the roles and functions of a professional social worker as a leader in promoting resilience in client systems.

Ways of Knowing for Social Work Practice - 3 credits
This foundation course introduces students to the basic processes of critical thinking and application to the assessment of client systems, social policy and research. Skills of critical appraisal and decision making within a bio-psycho-social framework are practiced with special attention to culturally based sources of knowledge.

Human Development - 3 credits
This foundation course provides a social work context in introducing students to theories and theoretical models that explain reciprocal influences and risk and resilience in shaping human behavior. This course uses a developmental framework to examine growth and maturation over the life course with attention to the person-environment configuration. This course emphasizes the relevance of factors including culture, ethnicity, and gender, social constructions of age, social norms, socioeconomic inequality, spirituality, sexual orientation, and trauma in influencing the outcomes of transactions between the person and the environment over time. Special attention is paid to the applicability of course content to social work practice in human service settings.

Social Work in the Social Services Environment 3 credits
This foundation course introduces students to social welfare service structures and delivery mechanisms, including organizational roles and functions, and how these are experienced by helping professionals and vulnerable populations. Students will examine connections between society’s organized public responses to personal problems, especially through social service delivery. Attention to organizational roles in enhancing social justice for vulnerable populations is emphasized.

Environmental Context of Social Work Practice: Poverty, Oppression and Trauma -3 credits
This foundation course prepares students for engaging client systems within an ecological context. This course focuses on understanding client behavior within the larger social environment. Using a bio-psycho-socio-cultural-political lens, how difference and diversity within the social environment can affect social functioning is explored. Poverty, oppression, and trauma are examined as issues of social justice that challenge resiliency in client systems, and require competency in leadership and advocacy on the part of practitioners.

Models of Intervention in Clinical Social Work Practice - 3 credits
This foundation course introduces students to social work practice with individuals, families, and groups in contemporary practice settings with an emphasis on identifying appropriate and effective models of intervention. Students will become familiarized with multiple models of intervention at the micro and mezzo levels of social work practice and learn to make effective practice decisions regarding the selection and implementation of various intervention models.

Introduction to Trauma and Resiliency - 3 credits
This foundation course provides the student with an overview of psychological trauma, including the history and current theories in the field, the nature of trauma (sexual abuse, combat, and natural disasters), how trauma affects individuals and systems, grief reactions, and traumatic stress. Resilience Theory is introduced. Also included in this class, is the exploration of the professional’s response to trauma, vicarious traumatization, disenfranchised grief, crisis intervention, co-morbid disorders and general treatment issues. Finally, students have the chance to review evidence-based practices in the trauma field, including cognitive, neurobiological, clinical, and socio-cultural. A culturally-informed approach to learning is used.

Field Education I - 3 credits
This foundation year course requires student to complete 140 hours of supervised clinical practice in a Field Agency in addition to attendance in a 14-week Skills Lab. The Skills Lab prepares students for their field education experience by providing content relative to the basic skills of social work practice. The Skills Lab also provides ongoing integration of clinical theory and practice skills.

Field Education II – 4 credits
This foundation year course requires students to complete 280 hours of supervised clinical practice continuing in the same Field Agency. In addition, students are required to attend a 14-week Skills Lab. The Skills Lab continues to support students’ learning and demonstration of competence in their field education experience by providing ongoing integration of clinical theory and practice skills.

Introduction to Clinical Assessment in Social Work Practice - 3 credits
This foundation level course introduces students to a variety of assessment methods utilized in clinical social work practice. Grounded in the ecological model, students gain competency in bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment within a person in environment context.

Psychopathology - 3 credits
This concentration course expands the students’ understanding of mental health and psychopathology from a social work perspective. Drawing on a functional approach to assessment, students examine the history of the definitions of mental illness and mental health; common disorders encountered in practice; the impact on the individual, family members, and the social environment; factors that promote mental health; and conducting assessments from a social work ethics-based perspective. Emphasis is given to recognizing indicators of mental disorders, the context in which they occur, and identifying and understanding the classifications described in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Emphasis is also given to what is considered best practices in mental health assessment for children, adolescents, and adults.

This course provides the opportunity for students to explore their own values, ideas, and experiences related to mental health and develop sensitivity to socio-cultural and political issues in defining mental health problems. Attention is focused on the role of the social worker in mental health practice.

Field Education III - 4 credits
This concentration year course requires students to complete 336 hours of supervised clinical experience in an approved field agency. Drawing upon achievement of foundation year competencies, students demonstrate advanced skills of clinical social work practice with individuals and families under the guidance of a clinical field educator. In addition, students are required to attend a 14-week Field Seminar where clinical theory and practice skills are further integrated. Field Education III and IV are sequential courses that require a minimum combined total of 672 hours.

Field Education IV - 4 credits
This concentration year course requires students to complete 336 hours of supervised clinical experience in an approved field agency. Building on Field Education III, students demonstrate a broader range of advanced practice competencies including group work, evaluation of clinical practice and skills of leadership, advocacy and policy practice. In addition, students are required to attend a 14-week Field Seminar Lab where clinical theory and practice skill are further integrated. Field Education III and IV are sequential courses that require a minimum combined total of 672 hours.

Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Individuals - 3 credits
This concentration course focuses on the individual as the basic unit of intervention. Students develop competence in the differential application of selected clinical approaches and techniques for a range of client concerns. The trauma informed, resilience focused framework guides engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation of practice with the client system across a range of practice settings and services. Factors that both strengthen and potentially threaten adaptation to life situations, circumstances, and events are addressed.

Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Families - 3 credits
This concentration year course provides in-depth study of family interventions aimed at promoting well-being through the use of a trauma informed resilience focused framework for practice. Students develop competencies in various family-centered approaches used in contemporary social work practice. Family-centered strategies are drawn from a variety of theoretical perspectives and include skills that mitigate the effects of trauma, oppression and social and economic injustices; serve diverse clients with diverse resources and needs; enhance client strength and resourcefulness; respond in professional, social and political contexts; and evaluate the effectiveness of interventions.

Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Groups - 3 credits
This concentration year course is examines clinical group work as a basic unit of intervention. A trauma-informed, resilience focused framework guides practice with group members facing various life conditions, circumstances, and events. Students develop advanced competency in a variety of group work strategies and skills, drawn from a variety of theoretical perspectives within a range of practice settings.

Leadership, Advocacy and Policy Practice - 3 credits
This concentration course prepares advanced clinical social workers s to work within the context of human service organizations and the social welfare policy arena on behalf of individuals, groups, families, organizations and communities. Focus is on developing competencies aimed at stimulating change in agencies/organizations and communities that will promote social and economic justice. Advanced skills taught in this course include policy analysis, program development and evaluation, assessment of leadership style, advocacy, planning, linking and lobbying.

Evaluation in Clinical Social Work Practice - 3 credits
This concentration course is designed to expand students’ capacity to evaluate the efficacy of clinical social work practice with systems of all sizes. Students will evaluate clinical social work practice processes and outcomes across micro-macro levels. Students will utilize outcomes of individual practitioners’ work with clients to inform overall program design in agencies.

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