Clinical specializations build on Foundation Year required courses and the first-year field placement to expand a student's assessment, intervention, and practice evaluation skills. Students may choose from four different specializations, each addressing the specific needs of particular client populations. Although electing a specialization is not required, SSW concentrations allow students to delve deeply into an area of interest and related skills development through a combination of electives taught by faculty experts and a second-year field placement working in a related practice setting.
Child and Family Specialization
This specialization educates students for careers in schools, child protection settings, hospitals, and community-based mental health centers that include, though are not limited to, residential services, out-reach, health and education services, and home-based therapy. Child and family social work practitioners endeavor to improve child and family well-being by seeking out protective factors that exist within individuals and in the social contexts (e.g., family, school, work, neighborhoods, and communities) where children and families live.
Through this process, child and family practitioners work with people in their communities to draw on protective factors as a means to build capacity. As a result, children and their families learn how to succeed in social environments challenged by stress, poverty, disorganization, and/or oppression. Students in this specialization will learn skills in collaboration, assessment, child and family therapy, and multi-system interventions.
Sample Electives for Child and Family Specialization:
- SW-425 Family Approaches in Clinical Social Work
- SW-595 Child and Adolescence Assessment and Diagnosis
- SW-539 Social Work in Schools
- SW-566 Play Therapy: Theory and Practice
- SW-557 Clinical Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees
Trauma and Interpersonal Violence Specialization
Viewing early-attachment disruptions, neglect, trauma, and family, community, and global violence as a spectrum, this specialization prepares students to practice with victims and survivors, as well as their families and communities. Students also gain skills to work in settings such as courts, jails or prisons. Electives and field placements educate students to develop their competency and comfort level with a range of clients.
Students learn the social ecology of the criminal justice system, how to be an effective "guest" in a "host" environment (e.g., prison, court, police station, district attorney's office, etc.), and the assessment and treatment of involuntary clients informed by strengths-based models that embrace social justice. Students become equally equipped to work with juvenile and adult clients; males and females; victims and offenders; and individuals, families, and groups.
Sample Electives for Trauma and Interpersonal Violence Specialization:
- SW-482 Social Work Practice with Domestic Violence
- SW-528 Child and Adolescent Trauma
- SW-529 Forensic Social Work
- SW-582 Attachment and Neurobiology in Social Work Practice
- SW-588 Case-Based Learning in the Treatment of Childhood Trauma
Specialization in Mental Health and Addictions
This specialization prepares students for careers in mental health and/or addictions. This includes work with clients struggling with severe and persistent mental illness; those with addictions; and those with co-occurring mental illness and substance-abuse disorders who receive care in acute care settings such as inpatient units, detoxification settings, and partial or day hospitals. The specialization is also designed for students who wish to work with clients with psychological and social problems of a less severe nature who receive help in mental health clinics and family agencies.
In conjunction with aligned field settings, electives provide students skills in rapid and thorough assessment, evaluation, and formulation. Students learn to use several treatment modalities such as psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group therapy. They will become skilled at developing various treatments and will deepen their theoretical understanding of mental illness, neurobiology, addiction behavior, and the treatment processes.
Sample Electives for Mental Health and Addictions Specialization:
- SW-438 Alcohol, Drugs and Social Work Practice
- SW-462 Advanced Group Work with Vulnerable Populations
- SW-475 Narrative Approaches
- SW-483 Cognitive-Behavioral Approaches and Treatments
- SW-578 Practice with Severe and Persistent Mental Illness
- SW-584 Psychodynamic Approaches to Work with Adults
Specialization in Health and Aging
Students in this specialization may concentrate in health or aging, or can combine both areas for a dual focus. Students will be prepared for careers as clinicians, case managers, program directors, and administrators providing social work services in a range of health care settings, including neighborhood health centers, community and rehabilitation hospitals, large urban medical centers, AIDS service organizations, home and community-based programs, long-term care institutions, and hospice programs.
Students focusing on Health will develop skills and expertise in clinical work with individuals and families in health care settings, skills in larger systems interventions, and an understanding of the social work role in interdisciplinary collaboration. Course content for this specialization reflects a diverse area of concerns, including experiences of illness, disabilities, and chronic conditions; spirituality; end-of-life care; and ethical and legal dilemmas. The psychosocial dimensions of care will be viewed in the context of current health care delivery systems.
This specialization focuses on the full range of health and mental health services for older adults, including those who remain in their own homes and communities. Course content reflects the areas of concern found in the health concentration, but also emphasizes life span, long-term care, and specific aging-related issues. Psychosocial dimensions of care are viewed within the context of health and social care systems. Health and Aging students have access to a diverse array of field placements and will learn relevant clinical skills for work with individuals and families in sites such as acute care hospitals, mental health facilities, social care agencies, assisted-living facilities, nursing homes, substance-abuse clinics, and faith-based organizations.
Sample Electives for Health/Aging Specialization:
- SW-478 Social Work Practice in Health Care
- SW-501 Social Work Practice with Older Adults
- SW-583 Advocacy and Social Action in Gerontology
- SW-463 Advocacy and Social Action with Disability and Chronic Illness
- SW-507 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Health Care Management of Older Adults (at Harvard Medical School)
- SW-554: Health Care Policy and Advocacy in Social Action