Clinical Social Work

Social work students can choose to major in clinical practice (CP) in order to work directly with individuals, families, and groups. Students develop competencies in assessment and diagnosis, treatment, and prevention for a variety of emotional and behavioral problems. Numerous social work skills, human behavior theories, and evidence-based practices are taught to inform student learning.

Person-in-environment theories form the primary knowledge base for the curriculum because they emphasize individual, family, group, and community resources, as well as reciprocity between people and their environments. Students study four frameworks for differential assessment and intervention: cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, and family systems.

Clinical practitioners learn how to use their professional relationship to engage in purposeful conversation and planned therapeutic activities with clients and to mobilize resources in the environment. In addition to training in individual and family intervention skills, students also learn group work skills as a key part of clinical practice that provides a bridge between social work with individuals and with larger systems.

Guiding principles for clinical social work practice presume the worth and dignity of all people, a strengths perspective, the need for client confidentiality, and client empowerment and self-determination in decision-making. Students learn to practice with an understanding of social policy and macro systems and consider how these policies and systems impact clients and worker practices. Clinical internships provide opportunities for the application of classroom learning to client and family situations in the field.

Clinical social workers are employed in a wide variety of fields that include mental health, child welfare and children’s services, health clinics and hospitals, rehabilitation clinics, family service settings, school social work, services for the elderly, and housing agencies.

Clinical Social Work Course Offerings include a foundation course required of all students in their first-year field placement:

  • SSW CP 759 Introduction to Clinical Social Work Practice

Following this course, clinical concentrators are required to take the following courses:

  • SSW CP 770 Clinical Practice with Individuals
  • SSW CP 771 Clinical Practice with Groups
  • SSW CP 772 Clinical Practice with Families

Several advanced clinical practice electives are offered, including:

  • SSW CP 762 Advanced Group Work
  • SSW CP 764 Group Dynamics
  • SSW CP 785 Family Therapy
  • SSW CP 787 Clinical Practice with Couples
  • SSW CP 791 Seminar: Family Therapy
  • SSW CP 794 Clinical Practice with Children
  • SSW CP 795 Cognitive and Behavioral Treatment
  • SSW CP798 Psychodynamic Practice with Adults
  • SSW CP 799 Brief and Time-Effective Treatment
  • SSW CP 803 Clinical Practice with Adult Trauma
  • SSW CP 804 Clinical Practice with Childhood Trauma
  • SSW CP 806 Theory and Practice with LGBT Populations
  • SSW CP 807 Clinical Practice with Older Adults
  • SSW CP 809 Alcoholism and Drug Abuse: Identification and Early Intervention

Students concentrating in clinical practice can also complete specializations in the following practice fields: Group Work, Family Therapy, Trauma, Aging, and Behavioral Medicine. In addition, dual degrees with the Schools of Education, Public Health, and Theology enable students to enrich their knowledge and skills in specialized areas of clinical practice.