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Techniques of Social Work Practice in the United States


Lecture Topic: Techniques of Social Work Practice in the United States


Dr. Serge Lee, Research Professor

California State University, Sacramento

6000 J Street

Sacramento, CA 95819-6090

Email:  leesc@csus.edu


Time:  21st of June           Lecture:  Dr. Serge Lee    

Site:  Meeting room of College of Ethnology and Sociology




ž     Social work and social worker are not clearly defined and will continue to be problematic in defining the profession


ž     California is introducing a legislation for the term Social Worker as a title protection


ž     Human Services & Social Services.  Very broad concept used to describe all in kind services to needy people


ž     Social worker. Very broad concept, used to describe employees with no college degree (paraprofessional) and BA/BS degree


ž     Social service worker. Used to describe employees with a Masters degree or higher


ž     Most often social worker and social service worker use interchangeably


ž     Clinical social worker.  Social service worker that employ in mental health, hospital, or private practice


ž     Social work practitioner.  Anyone who work in the areas of health and human services with a bachelor degree or higher


Social work as a profession

ž     Social work is a profession for those with a strong desire to help improve peoples lives. Social workers help people function the best way they can in their environment, deal with their relationships, and solve personal and family problems. Social workers often see clients who face a life-threatening disease or a social problem, such as inadequate housing, unemployment, a serious illness, a disability, or substance abuse. Social workers also assist families that have serious domestic conflicts, sometimes involving child or spousal abuse.


ž     Social workers often provide social services in health-related settings that now are governed by managed care organizations. To contain costs, these organizations emphasize short-term intervention, ambulatory and community-based care, and greater decentralization of services.


ž     In quick summary, social workers provide guidance and resources to people who are having personal, social and economic difficulties.  EXECEPT in child abuse and neglect cases, social workers never MAKE decision for people who are in needs.  Social workers just empower them to make the best decision for themselves.


Practice Objectives


The following serve as Social Work educational goals for both the BASW and MSW programs: 


  1. Leadership.  Provide leadership in the development and delivery of services responsive to strengths and challenges with the context of human diversity, human rights, oppression and social justice. 
  2. Competencies.  Prepare ethnically-driven, critical thinking, competent entry level and advanced professional social workers with a generalist perspective and skills as applied to specific and emerging areas of practice.
  3. Curriculum.  Provide curriculum and teaching practices at the forefront of the new and changing knowledge base of the theory and research in social work related disciplines as well as the changing needs of our diverse client systems. 
  4. Global Perspective.  Analyze, formulate and influence social policies that develop and promote a global as well as local perspective within the context of the historical emergence of Social Work practice regarding human rights, oppression and social justice. 
  5. Accessibility.       Structure and offer programs and curricula in a way that provides availability and accessibility (weekend, night classes) that meet the needs of our diverse student body as well as complies with CSWE accreditation standards. 
  6. Diversity.  Recruit, develop and retain diverse students and faculty who will through multi-level practice contribute special strengths to our programs and profession


The Process of Becoming a Future Social Worker: The BSW Curriculum

ž     General Education.  Vary among state. Roughly 2 years/or 50-60 units.  Commonly 1 course equals 3 units

ž     Social Work Core Courses

        Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE-2 courses/6 units)

        Statistics (1 course/3 units)

        Social Policy (1 course)

        Research (1 course/3 units)

        Practice (2 courses/6 units)*

        Electives (2 courses in approved areas)

ž     Internship


The BSW Internship

Time Requirements


The time requirement for the undergraduate field course is 2 days/week, 8 hours/day, over the course of 32 weeks (Fall and Spring semester)


Placement hours are typically 8 am 5 pm.  Some placements may require evening or weekend work.  If a student cannot be available during the 8 am 5 pm time period, he or she may not be able to secure a placement, and thus may not be able to complete the social work program.


 Students are responsible to get to and from the field site. Not university or department responsibility

The MSW Curriculum

ž    Prerequisites

         Human Biology


         Culture Diversity

ž    Core Courses

         Human Behavior in the Social Environment (2 courses)

         Social Policy (2 courses)

         First Year Practice (2 courses)

         Advanced Practice (2 courses)


         Culminating Experience (Thesis/Project)

         Internship (every term). 


Field Instructions

Departmental Obligations

        A practice instruction with the MSW degree will be assigned as the Field Liaison.  The PhD doesnt meet the requirement

        Field Liaison is expected to meet the student and the Field Instructor monthly

        Field Liaison is responsible to read the students weekly journal and give written/or oral feedback


ž    Field Agency:

        The Field Instructor must possess the MSW or Master of Family Counseling to qualify

        The Field Instructor is required to meet the student a minimum of 2 hours per week to discuss the students learning curve

        The Field Instructor is to grade the student at the end of the term; however, the departments Field Placement Coordinator has the final say whether a student passed or failed field practicum

        The Field Instructor is to work with the student to develop the Learning Agreement

        The Field Instructor is required to read the students weekly journal and give written/oral feedback.  The weekly journal logs are the bridge between the Liaison and the Field Instructor. 


Course Assignments

Satisfactory completion of these assignments as directed by the Liaison is required to receive credit for the field course


Learning Agreement During the first month of placement, students and their Field Instructors will engage in an assessment of student educational needs, and together will develop a Learning Agreement (LA) according to a form provided by the Division.  Faculty Liaisons, if needed, are available to assist in developing the LA.  The LA should be considered as the overall roadmap for the students learning experience throughout the year.  It should be reviewed regularly during the field instruction hour by the student and Field Instructor, and modified as needed.


Students must provide their Field Instructors with a copy of their practice course syllabus and should discuss ways of integrating course material with the field experience.  Students must give Field Instructors sufficient advanced notice about any field-related assignments that requirement Field Instructor participation and/or review.


Field Journal The purpose of this assignment is for students to demonstrate the ability to engage in self-reflection and integration of classroom knowledge with field practicum experience.  Journals also provide an opportunity for Liaisons to monitor the progress of the placement.  Liaisons have discretion regarding the frequency and format of the journals.  A minimum of once every two weeks is recommended.


Process Recordings The purpose of this assignment is for students to practice skills of recall and retention of the content of client interviews, and to engage in self-reflection and self-evaluation of their practice.  Process Recording formats are provided in Appendix II of A Curriculum and Policy Guide for Field Education.  Liaisons may use other formats at their discretion.  While the Process Recording is assigned by the Liaison, the Field Instructor should also review and discuss it with the student.  A minimum of one Process Recording per semester is required.


Field Evaluation At the beginning of each semester, students must provide Field Instructors with a copy of the end-of-semester Field Evaluation.  This document should be consulted while the Learning Agreement is developed




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