Students begin the MSW program (the first year in the standard program) focused on basic social work knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective functioning to enable the student to work with various client systems. Following these foundation-level courses, students pursue an advanced practice concentration in Mental Health or Child & Family Services.
Foundation Year Practice Framework
In the initial stage of the program, students build on an undergraduate base with requisite knowledge about basic human systems, including:
- Biological systems
- Psychological systems
- Sociological systems
- Humanities (including spirituality)
Graduate level exposure to these content areas gives special attention to values and ethics, diversity, economic and social justice issues, and at-risk populations. Students assess client transactions, framed by the Strengths Oriented Life Model, with a foundational perspective of the Bio-psychosocial-spiritual model.
Mental Health Concentration
The Mental Health Concentration prepares students for advanced direct agency-based social work practice in health settings. In the advanced practice terms, students explore social work knowledge and skills pertaining to persons needing mental health services. This requires a broad theoretical framework and an array of intervention skills to allow for specific knowledge about mental health treatment across a variety of settings, including those that utilize managed care.
Particular emphasis is given to:
- Time-limited or short-term therapy approaches
- Crisis intervention and trauma-informed care
Child & Family Services Concentration
The Child & Family Services Concentration prepares students for advanced direct social work practice within public and private agencies serving children and families. In-depth attention is given to intergenerational and environmental systems that have a direct impact on the whole or part of a family system. With knowledge of various family, therapy approaches, students, can be integrative and select one or more treatment approaches based on the philosophy of the agency, their own professional “use of self” in the treatment process, and the assessed areas for intervention as identified by the client/family system. Major focus is given to the client/family system’s “construction of reality.”
The foundation of these concentrations is a multidimensional assessment strategy, which places the practice perspective firmly in the social work tradition. Students are exposed to a wide range of theoretical models to be synthesized into an individualized, unified practice model to maximize the strengths of each student’s personality and experiences.