Clinical Practice

  • SSW CP 759: Introduction to Clinical Social Work Practice
    Graduate Prerequisites: Required of all students.
    Graduate Corequisites: Required to be in a field placement with this course
    This foundation course teaches the clinical skills needed at various stages of the helping process (i.e., engagement, assessment, goal-setting and treatment planning, intervention and termination), whether the client is an individual, group, or family. Clinical methods are highlighted--what the social worker purposefully does as s/he works with individual clients and larger systems (e.g., groups, families, and communities) and how the social worker reacts and interacts in the helping relationship. The helping relationship is seen as requiring collaboration between clinician and client and the strategic use of clinical skills (e.g., strengthening rapport, assessing needs and strengths, reaching for feelings, identifying goals and expectations, setting limits) throughout the process. The helping relationship is also based on sound social work values and ethics, positive regard for the full range of human diversity, and dedication to social and economic justice. While the course emphasizes ways that clinicians can help clients accomplish goals, it also emphasizes the value of the helping relationship as a vehicle for client growth. Because a major hallmark of effective social work practice is the ability to reflect on one's interactions with individual clients and larger client systems, this course highlights the need to develop the capacity for professional self-reflection (i.e., the ability to observe and critique one's actions in relation to clients, supervisors, and colleagues and the integration of personal and professional "selves"). Core concepts of individual, family, and group intervention, case management, short-term work, and crisis intervention are introduced. Individual methods focus on developing and maintaining the helping relationship. Family methods focus on joining with the family as an entire system when multiple members are available, or when only an individual is available, intervening with the individual while considering influences and implications for the family system. Group work methods concentrate on group types, group formation, and group development.
  • SSW CP 762: Advanced Group Work
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This advanced group work course is designed for social work students who desire further learning in group practice, to deepen their understanding of the group work method in social work, and for students interested in leadership and supervision roles. Group Work as a method is far-reaching and is utilized across the spectrum of practice, from the micro and clinical interventions to the organizational and macro interventions. The aim of the course is to deepen students' understanding of group dynamics, theories, and method, with a special emphasis on the group-as-a-whole. The relationship between the group and its environment will be woven throughout the course, as will ethics and issues of diversity and difference--class, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation, etc.. Organizationally, the course examines the worker's use of self, the group, program, research, and the environment (although in real life, these aspects of group life are used simultaneously).
  • SSW CP 764: Group Dynamics
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This advanced seminar in group modalities and dynamics is designed for social work students who are planning to work with groups of various types and sizes and for those advanced students who wish to further their group work experience. The aim of the seminar is to deepen students' knowledge base and practice with group dynamics and selected group work modalities. The relationship among the group members and between members and the group facilitator(s) is a significant focus in the seminar. Throughout the seminar, emphasis is placed on enhancing students' understanding, application and evaluation of evidence-based group work (EBGW). Attending to issues of ethics and issues of diversity--class, age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation -- are woven throughout the seminar. The seminar is organized to include opportunities for a critical analysis of group dynamics, single-session experiential groups, and various group exercises. Priority is given to the further development of the professional 'group worker' in roles as leader, consultant and presenter. A highlighted component of the seminar includes Guest Presenters who are expert in specific group work modalities and/or with specific populations. The Presenters will aid the students in the seminar to hone a deeper understanding of facilitator interventions and use of self in the group setting.
  • SSW CP 770: Clinical Practice with Individuals
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 759; Required of all clinical students.
    Graduate Corequisites: Required to be in a field placement with this course.
    The purpose of this course is to deepen skills of differential assessment, formulation, and intervention with individuals. Three theoretical approaches guide this work: Cognitive (focusing on thoughts, feelings, and behavior), Behavioral (focusing on monitoring and reinforcing positive behavior), and Psychodynamic (focusing on dysfunctional childhood patterns repeated in the present). Using these perspectives, students analyze videotaped treatment sessions, demonstrate therapeutic approaches through classroom skill-practice, and present cases from their field internships for analysis and discussion.
  • SSW CP 771: Clinical Practice with Groups
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 759; Required of all clinical students.
    Graduate Corequisites: Required to be in a field placement with this course.
    Students acquire knowledge of group stages (from formation through termination), group types (task-oriented, psycho-educational, support and therapy) and group structure (single-session, time-limited, open versus closed groups). They also develop skills for forming and leading groups. The Mutual-Aid model provides the central organizing framework, showing the worker (a) how to mediate between and among three domains-- individual member, the group as a whole, and the environment, (b) how to respond to dynamics such as transference, countertransference, and issues of power and control, and (c) how to promote client and group empowerment. Building on knowledge and skills from CP 759 (Introduction to Clinical Practice), students learn how to use themselves effectively with diverse populations, in various community and clinical settings, and with differing member problems and concerns. Social and environmental stressors on group members and the group as a whole are considered at all stages of group development and with a variety of group types. Since social workers must have the capacity to assume varying roles in groups, students learn to shift the nature of their participation depending on the situation, for example, to be a colleague in an interdisciplinary team of care providers, to be the leader of a neighborhood task force, and to be a clinician providing psycho-educational services to the parents of mentally ill clients. The greatest opportunity for skill development in this course occurs when students take initiative to organize, lead, or co-lead groups in their placement, and all are encouraged to do so, if this is possible within the nature of the placement.
  • SSW CP 772: Clinical Practice with Families
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 759; Required of all clinical students.
    Graduate Corequisites: Required to be in a field placement with this course.
    Major goals of this course are to help students think systemically and learn skills to conduct family sessions with various family members. Students will learn family systems concepts and theories that are foundational to the practice of family assessment and intervention. A conceptual framework, Liberation Health, will be used to assist students in understanding families within the larger socio-political-cultural context. Students will also learn Structural Family Therapy as an exemplar of a family systems intervention. Skill practice and exercises will illustrate (a) individual versus systemic thinking, and (b) the meaning of the symptom in the system. An important outcome is that students will be able to facilitate communication among family members. As part of this work, students will deepen their ability to build alliances with the family as a whole, assess families using common family assessment tools, and develop hypotheses about the family's experiences, structure and internal dynamics that may have affected the presenting problem. Students will practice family intervention techniques such as circular questioning, maintaining multiple alliances simultaneously, encouraging family members to speak directly to each other, contracting and goal setting, strengthening the caregiver subsystem, exploring the meaning of missing members, and identifying important family secrets and myths. Emphasis is placed on the clinician's use of self in working with diverse individuals and families who present with a range of problems.
  • SSW CP 782: Stress and Trauma in The Early Years: Interventions with Young Children and Families
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This course focuses on interventions for effective practice with young children and families derived from the fields of infant mental health, early development and family systems. Students will gain competency in developmentally appropriate assessment and collaborative evidence-informed/evidence-based treatment of vulnerable young children and their families within an attachment, trauma and systems framework. The role of toxic stress and trauma in a child's development and family life will be explored; prevention and intervention approaches will address how best to ameliorate its harmful impact. Various approaches will be presented and examined in relationship to theories of change, differential assessment, resilience, culturally responsive practice, and privilege. Because the practitioner plays an important role in the change process, students are expected to use the self to engage with course material and deepen their reflective capacities with regard to the clinician-client relationship. Class time will include discussion of course readings, viewing videos, conducting case-based assessments, skills development and other interactive activities. Students will leave the course with a repertoire of analytic and clinical skills to support their practice with vulnerable young children and their families.
  • SSW CP 785: Family Therapy
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This advanced practice course builds on foundation year curricula and enhances the systemic paradigm shift by providing a broad overview of major family therapy approaches and of contemporary issues in and research on family therapy. Emphasis will be placed on the development of theory, evidence-based models and clinical practice in assessment and intervention with families. Students then concentrate on a few approaches and populations to facilitate developing family- centered therapeutic skills. Possible populations include but are not limited to: impact of trauma on family life and trauma-focused family practice, special issues for foster and adoptive families, substance use and misuse within families and family-centered approaches, clinical practice with military families and clinical approaches to working with LGBTQ families. The usefulness of utilizing a systems perspective to address issues in an urban context of social justice, at risk-populations and the effects of oppression will be embedded throughout the specific topics addressed in this course. Attention also will be given to diverse client systems and students are encouraged to bring up individuals and families they are working with for class discussion. Students observe and study videotapes of family therapists to practice assessment skills, develop an understanding of evidence-based clinical interventions and build proficiency in helping families with communication, organization and expression of feelings. They also explore and evaluate how the different models fit their own personal style. Class participation, including mini-exercises, role-plays, and discussion, will play a large role in augmenting reading assignments, lectures, and tapes.
  • SSW CP 786: Social Work and Health Care: Tools for Practice
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 759/770/771/772
    This course is designed to introduce students to social work practice in healthcare settings from a biopsychosocial perspective. The primary objective of this class is for students to gain the knowledge and clinical skills necessary to intervene effectively in medical settings and to work with clients experiencing serious health problems. Individual classes will address skill development across central practice themes including: the subjective experience of and reactions to living with illness, social work values and ethical dilemmas in health care, and communicating with patients and families living with serious illness. The course also examines differences in the social work role across settings including: inpatient, outpatient clinics, and home hospice and introduces students to the emerging sub-specialties in medical social work (i.e., transplant, oncology, palliative care). Students will gain a deeper understanding of the shifting role of social work in the interdisciplinary world of health care practice and will become knowledgeable of the roles and underlying theoretical models used by behavioral health providers working in integrated health settings (using the medical homes model). The impact of structural factors (i.e. racism, sexism, ableism etc.) on patient's experience with the healthcare system will be addressed as we examine how cultural beliefs around health, healing and illness impact the clinical relationship and the service delivery system.
  • SSW CP 787: Clinical Practice with Couples
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This course provides an overview of the major theories and techniques of couples and marital therapy with an emphasis on empirically validated approaches to practice with couples. Throughout the course we incorporate an ecological understanding of family systems within the context of the multiple systems in which couple and family life is lived. Specific attention will be paid to the needs of the following populations; same-sex couples, inter-racial and inter- cultural couples; couples who have experienced physical aggression and infidelity; and couples living with chronic illness, histories of sexual abuse, and substance abuse. Students will explore and evaluate how the different models of social work practice with couples fit their own personal styles. Mini-exercises, skill-practice and class discussion play a significant role, as do lectures and viewing videotapes. As a group, students provide an in-class, theory-based instructional presentation and demonstration of a couples counseling session.
  • SSW CP 791: Seminar in Anti-Oppressive Practice in Families and Communities
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This advanced seminar will provide a contemporary overview of special topics within family centered social work practice. Central among these topics will be further clinical skills training through the microanalysis of actual family treatment sessions through videos and role-plays, with a particular focus on making the connection between clinical constructs and their application in clinical work. We will utilize family therapy reflecting teams to help students develop new ideas and approaches with their current caseloads. Several different evidence-based models of treatment will be contrasted to consider their strengths/weaknesses in working with particular family constellations and to explore their overall effectiveness from the perspective of evidence-based practice. Other specific topics may include: 1) Working with families who have experienced trauma; 2) Home-based family treatment; 3) Ethical challenges in working with families; 4) Adoptive and foster family work; 5) Culturally sensitive family practices to more effectively address diversity including issues of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation; other topics based on student interest. Students should come away from the course with a more sophisticated understanding of social work with families, a clearer sense of their own clinical "voice," and the means to continuously improve their own effectiveness as practitioners
  • SSW CP 794: Clinical Practice with Children
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This advanced practice course builds upon foundation courses and is designed to help students think about the breadth of clinical practice with children and adolescents using theoretical knowledge and practice skills and with consideration of development, trauma, contexts, and systems. Multidisciplinary perspectives and approaches including developmental, biopsychological, and systems/ecological approaches are utilized to understand the strengths and needs of children and adolescents with contexts and systems (e.g., schools, communities). Knowledge, practice skills, and ethics related to engagement, assessment, prevention, intervention, and treatment of diverse children and adolescents will be emphasized. In this course, students will learn about the theory, concepts, and research that are foundational to clinical practice. They will learn about seminal developmental theories that contribute to understanding of developmental processes and outcomes as well as identity formation. There will be a focus on understanding the systems and contexts that children and adolescents interact with to help students collaborate with systems and advocate for their clients. In addition, students will learn about decision-making related to selecting evidence-based and practice-based interventions appropriate for children and adolescents. Social justice will be heavily emphasized, and clinical work will be discussed using an anti-oppressive lens; students will be encouraged to engage in social justice advocacy for their clients and communities. Also, students will use a trauma-informed lens to learn about engagement, assessment, and treatment. Lastly, there will be a strong focus on self-reflection and reflection about the role of social workers, their relationship with their clients, and interactions with systems and contexts. Class time will include discussion of course readings, viewing videos, conducting case assessments, skills development, viewing videos, role-plays, policy presentations, and other interactive activities.
  • SSW CP 795: Cognitive and Behavioral Treatment
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This elective course is designed to deepen practice knowledge and experience with cognitive and behavioral theory and treatment (CBT) for children and adults, that were introduced briefly in CP756 (Social Work Practice with Individuals). The course begins with a discussion of CBT, social work values, and social justice mission, and considers the strengths and limitations of CBT in the implementation of inclusive, affirming, anti-racist practice. The introduction also includes an overview of theoretical frameworks that underlie CBT, including cognitive models based mainly on A. T. Beck's theories as well as behavioral theory. The course incorporates Third Wave CBT therapies and forms of CBT including mindfulness based therapies as well as complementary approaches such as motivational interviewing. Cognitive/behavioral analysis (also called case formulation) and assessment of specific challenges as well as strengths, are taught using students' current practice experiences with children and adults. Several intervention methods are illustrated using client examples, video, demonstration and role-play where possible. These include developing a case conceptualization, cognitive restructuring, behavioral experiments, and exposure therapy (desensitization for treatment of anxiety). Discussions will include the application of CBT methods with consideration of structural factors, experiences of marginalization and oppression, the client/therapist relationship, the use of CBT methods in group settings, and ethical issues. For the major assignments, students complete two related paper and video assignments: (1) a cognitive and/or behavioral analysis and assessment of a current client in the student's field placement or work setting and (2) a review of the literature and application of relevant cognitive and/or behavioral intervention(s) related to this client. Two additional credit/no credit assignments involve identifying, assessing, analyzing and intervening with a personal habit or challenge that can be discussed in class. This provides personal experience applying CBT and an opportunity to incorporate self-care.
  • SSW CP 798: Psychodynamic Practice with Adults
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This course builds on psychodynamic knowledge and skills gained in the prerequisite courses of CP 755, 756, and 757. Its purpose is to further the learner's understanding of use of professional self and relationships in longer term therapeutic work with a variety of adults at risk due to poverty, domestic and neighborhood violence, lack of social resources, lack of stable and nurturing life path environments, and current barriers to well-being, constructive relating, and self-fulfillment. Object relations, self-psychology, and relational theory inform learning through reading, assignments, class exercises, and case dialogue analysis. Instructor and students problem solve around issues arising in interpersonal work characterized by mutuality and reciprocity between worker and client productive of growth in both. Empathy is practiced as an assessment tool (vicarious introspection), an expression of support and identification, and a medium for the activation of client strengths and growth potentials. Students practice 'being where the client is" in very difficult situations, and the long-term effects of prejudice, injustice, and social marginalization are frequently highlighted in assessments and intervention planning. Students learn to reflect on their own personal development and experiences as potential assets and blocks in aligning themselves well with client stories and reactions. Role plays and assignments help in identifying and correcting misalignments in use of self.
  • SSW CP 799: Brief and Time-Effective Treatment
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This course surveys a range of brief and time effective treatment models including crisis intervention/single session interventions, solution focused brief therapy, narrative therapy, and stages of change/motivational interviewing. Students will develop skills in brief treatment that can be used with children, adolescents, families, and adults who present with substance use, trauma, depression, anxiety, domestic violence, and other issues of concern in multi-stressed urban populations. Students will acquire understanding of the theoretical and empirical bases, strengths, and limitations of each model. Use of in-class and videotaped role plays along with small group exercises will help students become more creative, flexible, and accountable in their approaches to treatment, and will direct students away from a deficit (pathology) model towards a resource (possibility) treatment model. Students learn to collaborate with clients to create well-formed treatment goals, and to measure change as it occurs over time. Finally, students explore how their own values and beliefs about change may help or hinder clinical practice in the current health care environment.
  • SSW CP 803: Clinical Practice with Adult Trauma
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    Students learn different theoretical approaches to trauma and examine clinical strategies for intervening with traumatized adults from diverse backgrounds. Sources of trauma including natural disasters, the refugee and immigrant experience, interpersonal violence, and the accumulation of traumatic events over the life span are discussed in terms of their physical and emotional consequences. Students examine diagnostic issues including PTSD and complex PTSD, and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. Evidence-based interventions and emerging areas of practice with traumatized adult populations will be highlighted. Larger social, cultural and political forces are considered in shaping both exposure to and recovery from traumatic stressors. Finally, the impact of trauma work on clinicians and strategies for self-care and reducing burnout will be a theme of the course.
  • SSW CP 804: Clinical Practice with Childhood Trauma
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    Students develop or deepen a working knowledge of different theoretical approaches to trauma and traumatic impact and examine clinical strategies for intervening with traumatized children and adolescents. Multiple types of trauma will be considered ranging from single-incident events to chronic, complex, and developmental trauma. Diagnostic issues, current controversies in the trauma field, and emerging areas of practice with traumatized children and adolescents will be discussed. Emphasis is placed on applying a developmental perspective and on current knowledge regarding the neurobiology of attachment, regulation, and traumatic impact in children and adolescents as the foundation for trauma- focused practice. Students will learn about phase-oriented treatment and study evidence-based models for children from birth through adolescence. Student learning and in-class exercises will focus on developing the specific skills for each model and on case formulation and presentation.
  • SSW CP 806: Theory and Practice with LGBTQ Populations
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 759 ; SSW CP 770 ; SSW CP 771 ; SSW CP 772; or permission of department chair.
    This advanced practice course employs affirmative models of clinical practice with LGBT individuals and families. Ecological and strengths-based approaches provide a framework for the course. Additional perspectives include: (1) postmodern perspectives on gender; (2) developmental models for acquiring G/L identity; (3) race and ethnicity, families, youth, and aging; (4) specific challenges facing the LGBT communities such as domestic violence, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, and how to make agencies safe for LGBT clients and staff; and (5) social work practice with bisexual and transgendered persons. Also addressed will be LGBT individuals living in predominantly hetero-centric environments and ways they cope with these stressors. Material for this course includes relevant research, first person narratives, movies, speakers representing mental health and social service agencies serving LGBT individuals and families, and members of these communities themselves.
  • SSW CP 807: Clinical Practice with Older Adults
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    This course reviews life cycle and other developmental theories informing clinical practice with aging populations. Discussion highlights the impact of poverty, racism, ageism, and changing economics on the bio-psycho-social phenomenology of aging in urban environments. Special issues related to mental health, substance abuse, and cognitive impairment in this population are reviewed. Students learn methods for interviewing, assessing, diagnosing and intervening with older people, their families, and their networks are taught through case analysis and role play.
  • SSW CP 809: Substance Use Disorders: Assessment and Intervention
    Graduate Prerequisites: SSW CP 755 ; SSW CP 756 ; SSW CP 757; For Traditional Track and HSE Students
    Graduate Corequisites: SSW CP 755 or SSW CP 756 or SSW CP 757; For Advanced Standing Students
    The course is designed to teach the basic foundations of how to understand and work with individuals with unhealthy substance use. A multi-level approach will be used to examine individual and social influences on unhealthy substance use. Students will learn evidence-based methods for screening, assessment, diagnosis, and intervention for substance use ranging from unhealthy to meeting criteria for substance use disorder (SUD), as well as harm reduction approaches. A social justice lens will be used to analyze the issues and problems associated with unhealthy substance use. The course builds on CP756: Social Work Practice with Individuals and CP757: Social Work Practice with Families and on CP 781, Clinical Assessment and Intervention, in teaching Motivational Interviewing (based on Rogerian and behavioral approaches) and relapse prevention (based on cognitive behavioral therapy). Teaching methods include lecture, small group activities, skill practice, video demonstrations, and case study analysis.