Contact Us

Admission

Mon - Fri: 8 am - 4:30 pm

Call (413) 585-7960

School for Social Work

Mon - Fri: 8 am - 4:30 pm

Call (413) 585-7950

Professional Education

Mon - Fri: 8 am - 4:30 pm

Call (413) 585-7970

X

Social Work Practice Sequence

Social work students in classroom

Annemarie Gockel (Chair and SOCW 500/501 Coordinator) Kirk Woodring (SOCW 505 Coordinator) Peggy O'Neill (SOCW 600/601 Coordinator)

This sequence teaches generic skills of social work practice and specialized skills of clinical social work. It prepares students to practice in a range of settings, with different size client systems, and diverse presenting problems, from a range of practice theories and models, according to the ethical precepts and knowledge base of the profession.

The practice sequence ensures that students consider the cultural and social forces that impact on clients' lives and opportunities, as well as the internal and subjective meanings of clients' experience in order to work sensitively within an integrative framework.

Practice courses integrate and apply knowledge from all of the curriculum's content areas. The case study serves as the primary vehicle for accomplishing this goal, where the "case" is focused on individual, family, group, organization or community problems or needs. Since case studies and vignettes are used in all of the practice courses, it is at this level that the psychological and the social meet.

Elective Courses

The course numbers listed are effective beginning Summer 2019. Former course number equivalencies can be found here.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
  
Students will be introduced to contemporary theories and models for clinical practice with couples. Primary focus will be placed on the evidenced-based model of Susan Johnson: Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and, secondarily, the model developed by John and Julie Gottman.  It is through the lens of these models that we will explore myriad challenges and triumphs in intimate partnership.
 
Taking the perspective that the clinical social worker’s role is to facilitate the couples’ process, the course will support students in acquiring a beginning knowledge base and skills for assessment and treatment.  Issues of intersectionality and diversity in couple’s treatment will be included for discussion.  Although the course will primarily address factors common to working with all couples, we will consider the particular elements involved in working with infidelity, illness, divorce and trauma.
 

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
This five week course is designed as a beginning process of integrating family therapy theories and concepts into practice. This course will present a brief overview of the family therapy field and approaches. The format will include lecture, group discussion, formal case presentations, role playing, and video presentations. Student participation is key. Vital contextual factors, such as, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, race, sexual identity, immigration and citizenship status will be discussed separately and within the practical application of the different approaches presented. This course offers opportunities for students to fortify their understanding and skill in narrative therapy and to apply specific maps of narrative practice to their own lives as social workers. Students will explore the ways stories shape lives and to experiment with practices that can open space for new stories to emerge. Amidst the various approaches to collaborative family therapy, we will focus on the work of Michael White and David Epston, and developments of their re-authoring conversations approach in Australia, New Zealand, and North America.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Develops a working theoretical base for group psychotherapy, drawing from the Interpersonal, Psychodynamic, and Group-As-Whole perspectives. The emphasis will be on long-term group psychotherapy principles, which can serve as the basis for understanding phenomena that occur in all types of groups. To a limited extent, we will consider the applicability of these theories to short-term groups. Particular attention will be paid to: group dynamics, member selection and preparation, group formation, group development, and leadership techniques. We will also examine the role and impact of projective processes in group psychotherapy and consider the influence of diversity on group dynamics.
 

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Acquaints the student with predominant theories regarding religion and spirituality for the "person-in-the-situation." Particular attention will be given to the function of spirituality and religion in bridging internal and external adaptations throughout the life cycle. Theoretical orientations will include psychodynamic, philosophical and sociocultural. The implications of these theories will be examined in terms of their impact on clinical practice. Students are encouraged to bring case material.

Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Focuses on cognitive behavioral practice as related to evidence based practice. The material covered will include an introduction to and critical analysis of the family of theories which fit into the cognitive behavioral rubric including social learning theory, behavioral theories and cognitive theories of inter- and intrapersonal functioning. Theories will be examined from their genesis to their clinical applications with a goal of assessment of each for fit with particular client problems, therapeutic relationships, situations and contexts based upon empirical research. Theories will also be assessed for racist, sexist, ageist and other oppressive and unjust assumptions and uses. The seminar process will be focused upon the learning of cognitive behavioral methods including cognitive restructuring, contracting, Socratic questioning, thought stopping, motivational interviewing and behavioral reward systems. Use of self and relationship as well as models of integration across theories and methods will also be emphasized throughout the seminar.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Provides a comprehensive introduction to the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT™) developed by Dr. Bruce Perry. The NMT™ is a “biologically respectful” approach to understanding the neuro-developmental impact of childhood trauma on Sensory Processing, Self Regulation, Relational and Cognitive functioning of children who have experienced neglect and abuse in a variety of settings and forms. Often children and families involved in foster care, adoption, juvenile justice and residential treatment settings are blamed for their behavior by larger systems around them. This is particularly problematic for youth of color and LGBT youth who are pushed deeper into systems of control rather than receiving attuned and appropriate support and treatment for their experiences of trauma. This course will provide an in depth understanding and framework for working with the neuro-developmental impact of child trauma with an emphasis on identifying and prioritizing which types of treatment will be most effective and in what order - and helping larger systems shift their view of traumatized youth and families from “what’s wrong with them” to “what happened to them.”
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Addresses theme-centered psycho-educational groups, as well as time-limited and long-term activity-interview, and play therapy groups. The therapist's role in different models of group treatment will be considered, with particular emphasis on group structure, composition, modes of communication, limit-setting, transference, countertransference, creating a therapeutic group culture, and stages of group development. Students will be encouraged to share their experiences in working with child and adolescent groups and to participate in role playing designed to address problematic group process issues.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Draws from research and conceptual data that explore the effects of deployment and combat stressors on the physical and mental health of active duty US service members and their families. Attention is also paid to the impact of trauma and collective violence on individuals and communities, both nationally and globally, and the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Cultural influences are addressed that shape responses to traumatic events, a “fear-based social learning” or “moral injury” explanation of trauma-related effects, and engagement with healing and treatment approaches. Clinical social work treatment interventions are grounded in a synthesis of trauma, relational psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, attachment, somatic and social theories that inform a multi-modality clinical social work practice plan. Modalities include: individual, couple/family, group and community. An overview of specific trauma treatment approaches is addressed, harmonizing a psychodynamic foundation with empirically-supported treatment approaches (e.g. cognitive-processing treatment (CPT), psychodynamic (PT), cognitive-behavioral (CBT), and EMDR). Settings include behavioral health programs in the community, Department of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Administration Medical Centers (VAMC), federal and local prisons and jails and community-based Veteran-led peace-keeping projects. Attention to intersecting social identities and the use of professional self will be included in all class discussions. We will also focus on the effects of working with these clients as developing clinical social workers, with ongoing attention to secondary trauma and transference/countertransference processes. Priority is given to students who have worked with and who anticipate working with service members, veterans and their families and communities affected by armed conflict and collective trauma.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Targeted to any student who would like to improve their understanding and practice with adolescents, and who is interested in bridging the gap between clinical theory, youth development and social justice. The purpose of this course is to teach students how to think critically about social work practice with adolescents and to provide an integrative model of care to improve their practice. The model will focus on integrating developing theoretical, youth development and social justice frameworks to help conceptualize our work with transitional age youth or TAY. Proven approaches for engaging adolescents in this phase will be discussed including strength-based, youth centered, culturally congruent practices. Concepts from neurological development, clinical theory and youth development will be integrated within a multisystemic ecological model of adolescent care. Class discussion will focus on exploring and applying this model of care. We will routinely consider how the social ecology of adolescence including such influences as media, family, school, and community shape individual youth’s experiences. We will also attend to various forms of social work practice with adolescents ranging from traditional psychodynamically-oriented talk therapy to innovative models of hip hop therapy and much in between. Direct case examples of practice that integrates these themes will be presented. The course will be an exciting mix of classroom lectures, group discussions, case presentations, reflective papers, social media examples and an accompanying guest lecture series aimed at complementing, and adding context to, the information covered in class.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
The purpose of this course is to teach 2nd and 3rd year social work students how to think about and provide a framework for clinical work with children. The course is largely based upon a psychodynamic theoretical foundation and integrated within a contextual and biopsychosocial frame. Elements of the cognitive behavioral methods often required of practitioners in agency-based practice will be offered as well.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Introduces students to social work practice in healthcare settings from a biopsychosocial perspective. We will address central practice themes including: the subjective experience of and reactions to living with illness, social work values and ethical dilemmas in health care, communicating with patients at the end of life, the role of integrative medicine, as well as issues of economic justice and access to health services. Students will learn about merging sub-specialties in medical social work (i.e., transplant, oncology, palliative care), as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the shifting role of social work in the interdisciplinary world of health care practice.  We will examine differences in the social work role across settings including: inpatient, outpatient clinics, and home hospice, with a focus on more acute settings.  Students will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to intervene effectively in medical settings and to work with clients experiencing serious health problems. Practice topics include writing a good assessment, how to run a family meeting, how to discuss advance care directives with patients and navigating complex ethical cases.  There will be an overall focus on the impact of structural factors (i.e. racism, sexism, ableism etc.) on patient’s experience with the healthcare system, and how cultural beliefs around health, healing and illness impact the clinical relationship and the service delivery system.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Examines clinical approaches for working with trans and gender non-conforming persons. The term "trans" serves to encompass those who identify as differing from the historic cisnormative binary of gender. Together we will examine the gender identity distinctions, intersections, and the related clinical implications - including those related to transference and countertransference. We will study a variety of clinical intervention approaches that are, and include, the following: psychodynamic and attachment theory related, trauma-informed, EMDR therapeutic, social neuroscience based, sex positive, anti-oppressive, and responsive to the social realities experienced by members of gender expansive communities. In regard to the lives of trans persons and the professional roles of social work, we will dissect and examine bigotry, prejudice, misogyny, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, transphobia, racism, stigma, and shame. Relevant issues will be explored - including depression, suicide, accessibility, and social injustice - in relation to clinical assessment, diagnoses, treatment planning, and evaluation. Diverse, interactive, and dynamic teaching methods will be used to reflect real-life experiences of gender diverse clients and clinicians, and these teaching methods also will capitalize on the expertise of global leaders and the classroom of students.
Quarter Hours: 4
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Uses Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction as a framework for introducing students to mindfulness as a foundation for professional self-care, and as a vehicle for cultivating some of the key therapeutic factors that can help you be a more effective clinician such as: presence, attentional control, self-regulation, empathy, compassion, and cognitive flexibility. Because you can't grasp mindfulness through concepts alone, this course is highly experiential in nature. Students are introduced to mindfulness through participating in guided meditation practices, and are invited to experiment with these practices on a daily basis for homework. Class discussion and assignments provide students with an opportunity to reflect on their experience of the practice, and to share both successes and challenges in applying mindfulness in their daily lives and work. Course readings review current research and theory on mindfulness as a framework for fostering personal and professional resilience and clinical skill development. This course focuses on fostering the clinician's own personal exploration of mindfulness, which serves as a first step towards developing competence in delivering mindfulness-informed interventions. Please be aware that in order to allow us to explore the full potential of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Model, this course involves a distinct class schedule.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Critical conversations are those in which power dynamics in social context are illuminated, substantively examined in the moment and subsequently reflected upon in order to produce change - personal, systemic, institutional (Kang & O'Neill, 2017). This course will focus on supporting students in developing consciousness of structural power dynamics expressed through interpersonal interactions in dialogue - all with the aim to create change. Students will learn how to facilitate and enhance their authentic participation in discussions using the Critical Conversations (CC) Model in addition to other approaches grounded in humanist and critical pedagogy. Centering social justice issues and challenges, students will practice: (a) expanding knowledge regarding manifestations of differential structural forces of oppression and opportunity across systems (individual, family, community, organizational, society, world); (b) examining how structural power dynamics emerge, are enacted, and influence discourse and interpersonal engagement; (c) cultivating dialogic skills including, (1) the capacity to witness one's level of connectedness through disagreement, tension and conflict; practicing "calling in" rather than "calling out" to mitigate potential for offensiveness and harm in critical conversations and (2) applying a stance of curiosity and commitment to explore the intersection between structural forces of oppression as enacted within interpersonal relationships. This will be a highly interactive course. In addition to providing theoretical grounding, reading and course materials will substantively by applied in class discussions. Each session will include critical conversations. Be prepared to engage in a range of strategies including but not limited to reflection, meditation, and out of classroom individual exercises to advance critical awareness.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Knowing, not knowing, and muddling through will each be valued as essential and normative experiences as we encounter the inevitable therapeutic impasses, intense emotions, and unconscious processes inherent to the dynamic understanding of ourselves, others, and the clinical relationship. All clinical social workers experience positive and negative reactions toward their clients, and these reactions must be curiously examined to facilitate ethical and compassionate clinical care that fosters growth. A commitment toward an anti-racist and anti-oppressive lens, which values diversity and facilitates open dialogue, is expected, as well as a beginning understanding and appreciation of one’s own social identities and their effects on clinical relationships and interventions. The course will draw on a range of theoretical and clinical perspectives, including but not limited to psychodynamic (Relational/Intersubjective), contemplative, and CBT models. However, class members will be encouraged to conceptualize clinical material within whatever theoretical framework seems most useful to them and the clinical material at hand. Class time will include clinical presentations, discussion, and lecture.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Examines, assesses, and develops skills in the implementation of social work policy and practice in the public education setting. Whether a social worker is employed in the school setting, or in a child welfare agency, the school experience is an integral part of every client’s identity and exerts a significant influence on one’s functional capacity. For some, the school experience itself is traumatizing; for others, it is a welcome refuge from trauma in the environment. Understanding the impact of the school setting enhances the social worker’s effectiveness whether working in schools or in clinical social work settings. Practice issues to be explored and discussed include: 1. Working with “teams” 2. Utilizing the “Response to Intervention [RTI] model” to design and implement systems, group and individual interventions in the school setting 3. Working with individuals, groups, and families 4. Working with a special needs population with the framework of legal mandates 5. Consultation, crisis intervention, and coordination of services 6. School/family/community collaboration Through a variety of methods, this course will help you examine a range of policy and practice issues related to the delivery of social work services in the school setting. An ecological and risk and resiliency framework for practice will be emphasized throughout the course. Furthermore, students will examine the role of school social workers in light of their own educational experience as well as participate in role plays of situations which typically arise at the elementary, middle, and high school level.
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Develops clinically meaningful understandings of working with people with disabilities. Through a psychodynamic lens, we will examine the ways in which systems of oppression/ableism impact intrapsychic resources, definitions of health, meanings of physical and cognitive variance, and strategies for healing. We will identify the trajectory of disability as an identity category from illness to disability pride. We will use the framework of Self Psychology to examine the impact of ableism on identity, development, attachment and resiliency. We will then develop strategies for increasing social and emotional resources toward an empowered sense of self.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer
 
Disasters are a process and occur locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. There is a social ecology for every disaster: a matrix of socio-historical factors interacting with geographical, geological, social, cultural and political conditions. Clinical social workers are expected to offer psychosocial services in the wake of disasters. This course will consider different types of disasters and the range of psychosocial responses that social workers provide. There will be a particular emphasis on the immediate, short-term and mid-term provision of services. Traditional disaster mental health approaches will be compared and contrasted with psychosocial capacity building. The relationship between individual and collective healing with community recovery will be explored as will the importance of using group modalities to foster social support. The course will also consider disaster service delivery systems, psychological first aid, crisis intervention skills, critical incident stress management, self-care for responders, policy issues surrounding disaster response and research on the effectiveness of interventions. By the end of this course students will be able to offer basic psychosocial intervention services to individuals, families and communities where disasters have occurred and have the beginning capacity to work with others to plan and evaluate disaster response programs.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Third Year Summer
 
Develops a working theoretical base for group psychotherapy, drawing from the Interpersonal, Psychodynamic, and Group-As-Whole perspectives. The emphasis will be on long-term group psychotherapy principles, which can serve as the basis for understanding phenomena that occur in all types of groups. To a limited extent, we will consider the applicability of these theories to short-term groups. Particular attention will be paid to: group dynamics, member selection and preparation, group formation, group development, and leadership techniques. We will also examine the role and impact of projective processes in group psychotherapy and consider the influence of diversity on group dynamics.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Third Year Summer
 
Focuses on theory and practice of brief dynamic psychotherapy (BDP) with adult individuals. It is based on psychodynamic and developmental theories of personality organization, as well as on theories about the impact of time and time limits on the process of therapy. Topics to be covered include the evolution of brief therapy, the work of major contributors to the field, and consideration of treatment issues such as selection criteria, use of a dynamic focus, and use of transference and confrontation. Other topics include short-term work with more disturbed clients, and cross-cultural issues in brief treatment. Prior course work and clinical experience in longer-term therapy, specifically knowledge about the differential use of self in the treatment relationship and skills in psychosocial assessment, provide the foundation from which we examine the technical shifts that occur when treatment is time-limited.
 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Second or Third Year Summer

Topics not included in the regular curriculum, but within the practice sequence. Specific title and description information will be posted in the registration portal for the term offered. 
Quarter Hours: 2
Coordinating Sequence: Practice
Fulfills: Practice Elective
Eligibility: Third Year Summer

Topics not included in the regular curriculum, but within the practice sequence. Specific title and description information will be posted in the registration portal for the term offered.