Clinical Social Work

Research at CSWR addresses issues that affect lives, families, communities.

The Clinical Social Work concentration provides a variety of effective treatment models and the best practice skills for intervening with individuals, families, and groups within a community-based practice network.

Students are taught evidenced-based, strengths-based and culturally competent clinical practice technologies; and are provided with explanations from transtheoretically-based and ecologically focused theories that explain how to purposefully change human behavior.

Practice interventions taught are competency-based and focus on enhancing client functioning in the areas of strengths and coping, collaboration, problem solving, and self-efficacy, as well as promoting social and economic justice within all systems in the environment. Practice effectiveness and evaluation skills are integrated throughout the coursework. Students further enhance their advanced practice competencies by choosing clinical practice selectives and electives on specialized practice topics.

Clinical Concentration Objectives

Students graduating from the Clinical Social Work concentration will be able to:

  • Strategically apply empirically based theories and knowledge to effectively assess the developmental level of the client (based on biological, sociological, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development across the life span), the influence of the client’s social systems (individual, family, group, organizational, and community), and the ways in which those systems promote or deter clients in maintaining or achieving health and well-being.
  • Deliberate about human complexity by using multiple perspectives to analyze client’s strengths and problems within the larger community and policy contexts.
  • Prioritize selective target systems for intervention: individual  (intrapersonal), family and community-based networks (interpersonal), and broader societal systems (individual-societal conflicts). Interventions will be based on the knowledge and skills that inform the dynamics of human change from different theoretical perspectives.
  • Use multiple theoretical perspectives that are informed by best practices and empirically- based studies to identify, critique, and apply strengths-based interventions to the problems and unique characteristics of diverse populations.
  • Develop and promote self-awareness including the professional use of self to engage and work with diverse client populations and community systems in addressing ethical dilemmas.
  • Identify and utilize culturally relevant perspectives to define, design, implement and evaluate interventions for effective practice with persons from diverse backgrounds and community contexts.
  • Advocate for practice delivery and policies that promote social and economic justice and equity at multiple levels.
  • Utilize quantitative and qualitative research findings to understand scientific, analytic, and ethical approaches to building practice knowledge; provide high quality services; initiate change; improve practice, policy, and service delivery, and evaluate the social worker’s own practice.
  • Demonstrate leadership skills in public speaking, marketing, community networking, resource development, interprofessional and interagency collaboration, mediation, and conflict management to promote strengths based solutions to client system problems.
  • Seek and advance continuing education, the efficacy of innovations in practice delivery, and the effective use of clinical supervision to evaluate treatment integrity and adherence to best practices.

Complementary Theoretical Frameworks

The Clinical Social Work concentration emphasizes integrative, ecological systems, transtheoretical and innovative perspectives in the teaching of theory and practice.  The purpose of choosing these frameworks is to help students conceptualize clients across a range of perspectives from individual to systemic perspectives. The teaching of diverse therapeutic perspectives provide opportunities for learning the best practices that exist across intervention models. Using the integrative and broad lenses provided by ecological systems and transtheoretical frameworks, students are taught to use multiple perspectives to guide their practice as they assess, select and evaluate intervention methods across diverse client systems.

  • Ecological Systems Theory: The ecological systems perspective is a popular and widely used framework in social work. The ecological framework targets for change all client and community systems and their interactions that are contributing to the development and maintenance of client problems (e.g., individual, peer group, family, school, work, community agencies). The ecological systems framework helps clinicians to view clients through various social systems and to integrate techniques across diverse clinical practice perspectives. Empirically supported and best practices are used to purposefully design effective interventions and systems of care within a community-based setting. The ecological systems perspectives further emphasize the need for community development and maintenance strategies within the community systems network to assure that clients continue to progress and change.
  • The Transtheoretical ModelThe transtheoretical model recognizes that diverse clinical practice models offer important content and processes for client change. There are currently several therapeutic theories and models that show efficacy for various client populations. No single theory or set of interventions can best serve all client needs and problems. Some integration is necessary for learning the best practices for helping clients. Instead of relying on one theory or set of interventions, the transtheoretical model encourages practitioners to develop ways of practicing that can draw from the best practices across the clinical spectrum. The transtheoretical model respects the richness and applicability of various models, emphasizes that a model must be measured and validated, and recognizes the importance of understanding the processes involved in human change.