Master of Social Work

Simmons's nationally regarded Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) Program provides a rigorous clinical social work education for women and men. The Program is highly respected for its fieldwork component, with internships three days per week in both years of the Program. We offer a progressive, hands-on curriculum that infuses education and practice with social justice values and multicultural perspectives.

CoursesCourses 2013-2014

SW401A: Social Welfare Policy and Services (required)

This course focuses on the social welfare policy context in which social workers practice and social welfare benefits and services are received. Course content familiarizes social work students with the history and evolution of social welfare policies as well as current-day examples of policies that influence social work practice. To appreciate the complexities, contradictions, strengths, and weaknesses of the American approach to social welfare, a number of factors will be analyzed including history, economics, politics, ideologies and values, and alternate policy models.

In this course, students learn to analyze historical and current social welfare policies in light of principles of social and economic justice and human rights. The role of power and privilege in social welfare policy will be assessed as it pertains to equality, equitability and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, class, disability and other individual and population characteristics. Ways in which social work practice is both influenced and is impacted by social welfare policies will be emphasized.

SW402: Information Literacy Program (required)

This online course focuses on information literacy for graduate social work students. All students must complete SW402. 0 credits

SW407: Community Politics: Urban Leadership Program students only.

This course orients students to the structure and function of government at the federal level. Topics include an introduction to key concepts of government and the relationship of federal, state, and local levels. Current news and events will help illustrate how work gets done. 0 credits. If the needs of the Urban Leadership students are fulfilled, this class may be open to interested MSW students.

SW408: Oral Presentation Skills: Urban Leadership Program students only.

Social Workers often need skills in public speaking to effectively perform their roles. In case presentations, board meetings, legislative hearings, and team meetings, social workers must communicate their ideas in a clear and succinct manner. This course addresses the basics of public speaking, types of speeches, and helps prepare students for presentations that are either prepared or spontaneous. 0 credits.

SW409: Dynamics of Racism and Oppression (required)

This course is an intensive examination of the dynamics of various forms of oppression in U.S. society. The selection of the oppression of racism is deliberate. Through the analysis of critical race theory and intersectionality, students will come to understand the reasoning for this initial emphasis. The course begins with an analysis of racism from structural, (social) psychological and applied perspectives. This approach frames the analysis of other forms of oppression. Types of oppression (sexism, classism, homophobia, etc.) are examined in relationship to sociopolitical and economic factors, and historical themes that continue into the present day are identified. The course will explore the costs of oppression to all individuals and its differential impact on individuals in dominant and subordinate positions. The importance of power and the dynamics of domination and subordination in all forms of oppression will be explored. Practice issues will be examined in relation to multi-level interventions (i.e., individual, group, organizational and institutional).

SW411A: Human Behavior in the Social Environment (required)

Human Behavior in the Social Environment addresses two areas of focus. One is an ecological-developmental approach to human behavior in the social environment, taking a social constructionist perspective, emphasizing the ways in which culture (of large groups and small) and the broader social environment shape human behavior and identity. Concepts of resilience and resistance to oppression are emphasized using frameworks such as empowerment theories, systems theory and human ecology. This course emphasizes micro, meso, and macro level social systems that influence individual behavior, including families, groups, organizations and communities, as well as the larger society within historical and cultural contexts. Particular attention is paid to culture, race, class, gender and sexual orientation as dynamic social constructions that can be sources of both oppression and strength at all levels of social systems.

The second area of focus is on current theoretical frameworks to understand the bio-psycho-social-cultural processes that shape human behavior and development of self across the life span. We emphasize the interaction of individuals with their environments as they mutually influence each other, emphasizing cultural diversity and social justice. The application of multiple theoretical perspectives to Social Work practice is emphasized.

SW414: Assessment and Diagnosis (required)

This one semester course provides knowledge of the major categories of diagnoses for adults as formulated in DSM-5 and of theoretical perspectives in those categories. Attention is given to the dynamics of development and culture, and to the interrelationship among biological, psychological, and social/cultural systems that impact diagnosis. Focus will be on utilizing these elements in order to provide a comprehensive bio-psycho-social assessment. Treatments specifically related to these diagnoses will be noted. Prerequisites: SW411A; SW421A or concurrent enrollment.

SW421A: Social Work Practice (required)

This two-semester course exposes students to selected generalist practice theories for social workers. The course will examine various levels of intervention, practice settings, and theoretical perspectives. Students are introduced to the general processes that are common to every client system level: preparation and engagement, differential use of self, assessment, contracting, intervention planning, intervention evaluation, and termination of services that are applicable no matter the setting or client group. Considered over two semesters is work with individuals, families, groups and the social context in which these client groups exist. A special concern is the impact of diversity and oppression for client and worker. Emphasis of this semester is mastering multi-level assessment. Actual practice dilemmas are examined through case discussions, videotapes, role-play, and other exercises. Two consecutive semesters of SW421 are required: SW421A and SW421B. Students must register for the same section each semester. Must be concurrent with SW446A.

SW421B: Social Work Practice (required)

The second semester of the yearlong course will focus on the action of social work practice, and on various ways of reflecting on that action. The course will continue and deepen application of the basic processes of social work practice to a wide range of issues and problems. In the first semester, particular attention has been given to a multilevel approach to assessment and intervention, and developing the skills sets that facilitate the helper-client relationship. In this semester, we will continue to deepen knowledge and skill in assessment, intervention and differential use of self, while introducing a variety of practice circumstances and contexts including societal and family violence, trauma, substance dependence and several theoretical and practice approaches including cognitive behavioral and psychodynamic. We will examine practice situations through case discussions, videotapes, role-plays, and experiential exercises. Prerequisite: SW421A. Two consecutive semesters of SW421 are required: SW421A and SW421B. Students must register for the same section each semester. Must be concurrent with SW446B.

SW424: Advanced Clinical Practice (required)

Contemporary clinical social work practice is ever evolving and is shaped by a number of stakeholders. Within this context of transition and change sound clinical social work practice is culturally responsive, flexible, and demonstrably effective, and when appropriate, community-based. Building on foundational knowledge and skills mastered from the first year social work practice course, this course will have four foci: 1) professional use of self; 2) the professional/therapeutic relationship; 3) continued development and refinement of more sophisticated assessment skills; and 4) mastery of brief/time-effective approaches to intervention/treatment. The goal is for students to acquire skill sets related to a variety of practice frameworks/theoretical perspectives and to learn how to decide which particular approach is most beneficial for each specific client in achieving positive outcomes. Prerequisite: SW421B.

SW425: Family Approaches in Clinical Social Work

This course focuses on advanced ways to conceptualize, assess, and intervene in families. Modern and postmodern theories will be examined, practiced, and critiqued. Practice examples will include nontraditional and traditional families, and applications of family and systems theories to work with individuals and dyads will additionally be discussed. Developing one's own clinical voice and attending to ethnicity, class, and other social identities will be emphasized. Students are encouraged to bring case materials and to take full advantage of varied experiential learning techniques. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW438: Alcohol, Drugs & Social Work Practice

The focus of the class is on exploring the nature, etiology and treatment of substance abuse disorders and how they relate to social work practice. Students are introduced to different theories that frame substance abuse treatment models, including harm reduction neurobiology and the traditional medical model. Students explore self-help programs such as AA and NA and other modes of treatment, including CBT, motivational interviewing, outpatient treatment and psychopharmacology. Policy, prevention and education issues are also addressed. Prerequisites: SW401A, SW411A, and SW421A. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW441: Social Work Research (required)

In this introductory course, students examine the research process as it applies to the specialized interests and needs of social work. Illustrations are chosen from the studies of social work practice. The course is designed to enable students to be critical consumers of research, to understand the principles and process of research and the evaluation of practice, to become familiar with ethical considerations when designing and implementing a project, and to be capable of participating in practice related research. Sections with some online class sessions are designated as "blended."

SW446A: Field Education Year 1: Foundation (required)

Weekly agency-based field placement, which focuses on foundation social work skills. Students complete agency-based assignments in addition to process recordings and assessments.

  • SW446A section 01 is for students doing a 24 hour per week field placement (Sept-May)
  • SW446A section 02 is for students doing a 16 hour per week field placement. (Sept-Aug)

The field department must approve all 16-hour placements prior to a student registering. Prerequisites: SW401A and SW411A, or concurrent enrollments. Must also be concurrent with Social Work Practice (SW421A).

SW446B: Field Education Year 1: Foundation (required)

Continuation of SW446A, weekly agency-based field placement which focuses on foundation social work skills. Students complete agency-based assignments in addition to process recordings and assessments.

  • SW446B section 01 is for students doing a 24 hour per week field placement
  • SW446B section 02 is for students doing a 16 hour per week field placement

The field department must approve all 16-hour placements prior to a student registering. Prerequisite: SW446A. Must be concurrent with Social Work Practice (SW421B)

SW447A: Fall Semester Field Education Year II: Advanced (required)

SW447A must be concurrent with SW424.

  • SW447A section 01 is for students doing a 24 hour per week field placement
  • SW447A section 02 is for students doing a 16 hour per week field placement

The field department must approve all 16-hour placements prior to a student registering.

The goal of field education is to learn the application of theoretical concepts and social work principles and values learned in the classroom to clinical practice. Field education provides supervised learning of advanced practice skills with individuals, families and groups in a variety of clinical settings.

SW447B: Spring Semester Field Education Year II: Advanced (required class)

SW447B must be concurrent with a Clinical Practice elective.

  • SW447B section 01 is for students doing a 24 hour per week field placement
  • SW447B section 02 is for students doing a 16 hour per week field placement

The field department must approve all 16-hour placements prior to a student registering.

The goal of field education is to learn the application of theoretical concepts and social work principles and values learned in the classroom to clinical practice. Field education provides supervised learning of advanced practice skills with individuals, families and groups in a variety of clinical settings.

SW447C: Summer Semester Field Education Year II: Advanced (advanced standing only)

The goal of field education is to learn the application of theoretical concepts and social work principles and values learned in the classroom to clinical practice. Field education provides supervised learning of advanced practice skills with individuals, families and groups in a variety of clinical settings. This course section is for Advanced Standing students only in their summer semester of study.

  • For the One Year Placement Option Field course, please see SW547 Field Education
  • For the Advanced Standing Field course, please see SW596 Field Education

SW451: Leadership Skills for Social Work Practice (required for Urban Leadership students) Urban Leadership Students only.

The course will expose students to a working definition of leadership and the various contexts in which leadership skills are exercised. Beginning with a vision of leadership, students will have the opportunity to examine their own leadership skills, learn to understand leadership in an urban organizational context, explore leadership practices in multicultural environments and reflect on their own multiple identities and their influence on leadership. In addition, the similarities between social work skills and leadership skills will be discussed. This course meets the requirement for a social action course. Must be concurrent with SW446B.

SW452: Leadership in Action for Social Work Practice (required for Urban Leadership students) Urban Leadership Students only.

This course will deepen students understanding of systemic interdependency and highlight the importance of strengths as a mechanism for transformation and change. Students will examine processes associated with varying contexts for social work leadership organizations as well as at the community and local grassroots level. Students will also critically examine emerging scholarship relevant to social justice leadership framework such as principled leadership and transformational leadership. Collaborative organization and community assessment and capacity development will provide students with opportunities to explore key course concepts in the field directly. Prerequisite: SW451. Must be concurrent with SW447B.

SW458: Child & Family Policy

This course is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of the needs of children and their families, child and family policy and practices. The course examines definitions of the family and how such definitions influence the development of policies and services. Societal responses to address the needs of children and families will be explored with a focus on the broad range of child and family policies, services and practices that support family, supplement the roles of family, or substitute for family when families are unable to care for their children. Students are required to identify gaps in services, issues of social injustice or oppression and develop a social action or advocacy agenda to effect improvement in the availability or delivery of services for clients. This course meets the requirement for a social action course. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment.

SW462: Advanced Group Work with Vulnerable Populations

This course builds on theories and skills learned in SW577. Focusing on vulnerable client systems in an array of settings, students will further develop the capacity to promote mutual aid by responding to and catalyzing group dynamics and process. Additional attention will be paid to the impacts of difference amongst group members, and between the worker and the group members. Through action and reflection, participants will examine their own group work practice very closely through the use of experiential exercises, journaling, and critical incident analysis, and by hearing about their colleagues' work. Students must have an ongoing group to facilitate or observe in order to benefit from this class. Prerequisite: SW411A, SW577, and SW421A. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW463: Advocacy and Social Action with Disability and Chronic Illness

The course focuses on issues and interventions regarding disability and chronic illness that affect adults and children physically, cognitively, and/or emotionally. Students gain understanding of historical and contemporary experiences of that population from the perspectives of their oppression and their response to oppression through rights and self-advocacy movements. Philosophical and practical frameworks studied include civil rights, inclusion, interdependence, and universal design in the built and social environments. Techniques are discussed for actions as advocates and allies with individuals, as social activists in coalitions, and as policy change agents. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a social action elective.

SW471: Spirituality in Clinical Social Work

What does it mean to integrate spirituality into one's social work practice? What models and forms of spirituality are appropriate and meaningful today? This class addresses how to best define, integrate, and use spiritual practices that will uphold the integrity and authenticity of the client, community, and practitioner. Readings, discussion, case presentations, and experiential exercises are used to deepen one's comfort level with spirituality in social work practice. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW411A; SW421A or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW474A: Conversational Spanish for Social Workers

This interactive course gives students the opportunity to develop conversational Spanish skills from the start. Social work-related vocabulary and idiomatic expressions are introduced and practiced in authentic, real-life professional situations starting in the first class. Please note, a verbal proficiency level test must be taken prior to starting the course and a group of students at the similar level is needed to run this class. This class is a one-credit enrichment class and does not meet an elective requirement.

SW474B: Intermediate Spanish for Social Workers

This one-credit course uses an integrated approach to teach Spanish listening, speaking, reading and writing skills in a cultural context. The course requires basic knowledge of the language and focuses on the use of Spanish in Social Work. Class sessions are conducted entirely in Spanish and the language is used in communicative, creative and critical thinking activities. Students will re-enact real life situations where they learn culturally appropriate responses. Lectures will introduce and clarify grammatical structures, as well as compare and contrast cultural differences around the Spanish-speaking world. Weekly preparation prior to the class and active participation is required.

A verbal proficiency level test must be taken prior to starting the course to ensure that students are at a similar level. Social work students and professionals will be integrated in this course. The class will be limited to 15 participants. This class is a one-credit enrichment class and does not meet an elective requirement.

SW475: Narrative Approaches to Social Work

This course explores newer systematic approaches to work with groups, families, and individuals. Narrative/constructivist approaches that are often applicable to short-term work are examined. Students will also consider what it means to think of treatment as involving the co-construction of new narratives. The course incorporates experiential learning and makes use of student case material. Prerequisite: SW421A. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW478: Social Work Practice in Healthcare

The course focuses on knowledge and skills essential for practice in health care settings including: understanding psycho-social influences on illness and the disease process; clinical analysis of problems, such as ethical dilemmas or end of life issues; the need to respond quickly in a fast moving system; knowledge in the scientific advances in health care as well as alternative therapies; intervening in multiple systems and the need to approach a situation from both macro and micro perspectives. Practice skills include rapid assessment tools, brief focused treatment, and "care mapping" strategies for a range of acute and chronic health issues across the life span. Course format includes students' case materials, live patient interviews, and guest lecturers. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW411A; SW421A or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirements for a clinical practice elective.

SW482: Domestic Violence and Family Welfare

This is a clinical practice course with intimate partner violence in the context of family (broadly defined) life. Students will learn specific skills in identifying, assessing and intervening with and on behalf of family members where domestic violence is present. You will be encouraged to reflect on your own knowledge about families, violence, and systems responses to violence, both as family members and as helpers. We will consider the experiences of women and men in heterosexual and same-sex relationships as both victims and abusers, and of children living with domestic violence, attending carefully to community and cultural contexts. We will address legal issues and criminal justice system responses, child protective services, and health care system responses. We will discuss and research current controversies in the field of intimate violence. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW411A; SW421A or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW483: Cognitive Behavioral Approaches and Treatment

The object of this course is to provide a working knowledge of the basic principles and specific techniques of a contemporary multi-modal approach to cognitive-behavioral therapy with consideration of its integration with other therapeutic approaches. Issues presented include: substance abuse, anger, interpersonal relationships, stress, anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders with an emphasis on borderline personality disorder and issues of affect regulation. Prerequisite: SW421A. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW487: Legal & Ethical Issues in Clinical Social Work Practice

Using case-based material and the Socratic Method, this course provides an understanding of legal and ethical issues confronted by social workers in clinical practice. The course includes an overview of basic legal concepts and principles as well as an examination of the NASW Code of Ethics. Students are expected to develop a systematic reasoning process through which values conflicts within clinical practice are addressed constructively and productively. Topics include informed consent and refusal; confidentiality and privacy; capacity and competence, guardianship and conservatorship; duty to warn/protect; assisted suicide and euthanasia; malpractice and risk management issues and mandated reporting for child, elder and disabled abuse and neglect. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW411A; SW421A or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW494: Multiple Faces of Trauma

Understanding and intervening with trauma theoretically and clinically is a critical skill for clincial social workers. The course examines trauma both interpersonal and communal in various contexts and in relation to various vulnerable populations: people at war, women, residents of violence-torn communities. Treatment of acute traumatic events, as well as the impact of persistent, developmental and historic trauma, is explored in adult populations. Students explore some of the theoretical and clinical controversies in the field and are asked to apply their learning to case situations. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW501: Social Work Practice with Older Adults

This course is intended to support students' interest in gerontological social work practice, and to provide a solid foundation for assessment and intervention with older adults in direct service settings. Students will develop their ability to respectfully engage a broad range of older clients, will build bio-psychosocial assessment and treatment planning skills, will learn intervention skills and approaches that will enable them to effectively intervene to address common presenting problems, will develop greater understanding of clinical/ethical issues that are specific to treatment with elders, will build specialized knowledge for practice, and will increase their familiarity with various gerontological social work practice roles and settings. Each class will include time for informal case presentations, allowing students to share their work and its challenges and to take part in collective problem solving in order to build their repertoire of practice skills. Prerequisite: SW421A. This course meets the requirements for a clinical practice elective.

SW507: Developing an Interdisciplinary Approach to Health Management for Older Adults

Health management for older adults is a major issue in today's society. Policy, economics, organizational structure, and clinical care are intermingled in responding on societal, institutional, and clinical levels. This course challenges creative and inquisitive students to approach the health of older adults by addressing these complex issues. It will focus on effective outcomes and understanding the range of roles professionals may adopt, as well as providing the knowledge base and skill set needed for interdisciplinary professional practice. Students and faculty from various disciplines will use a case study approach as the primary teaching model. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective. Enrollment is limited to 5 SSW students. The course is taught at the Harvard Medical Education Building on Longwood Avenue.

SW509: Evaluation in Social Work Practice (required)

Building on the concepts and principles from SW 441 this course prepares students in basic principles of practice and program evaluation and their application to social work practice in agency settings. Using their agency settings as laboratories, students learn the major approaches to evaluation (needs assessment, process, and outcome) with attention to the struggles, tensions, and ambiguities related to current evaluation models and agency demands for evaluation. Sections with some online class sessions are designated as "blended." Prerequisite: SW441. Must be concurrent with SW447A or B.

SW523: Advocacy and Social Action for Professional Social Workers

Relevant theories and strategies of social and political action that promote social justice within organizations and the larger community are the focus of this course. Students gain understanding of policy practice theory and skills in regard to social, economic, political, and organizational systems, and use this knowledge to then influence, formulate, and advocate for policy changes to meet the needs of clients. Students develop skills to create change at the client, agency, community, and/or societal level that is founded on the principles and ideals of social, distributive, political, and economic justice. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a social action elective.

SW528: Child and Adolescent Trauma

An advanced seminar addressing psychological, sociological, legal, and ecological aspects of family violence in its varied forms, especially in the sexual, physical, and psychological abuse of children and adolescents. Theories of and research on intra-familial and extra-familial abuse are discussed. Counter-transference phenomena are identified and alternate forms of treatment are explored. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW529: Clinical Social Work in Forensic Settings

This semester long course will focus on working with the increasing number of individuals incarcerated and impacted by the criminal justice system. We will focus on issues that arise within the practice of forensic social work in correctional settings (jails, prisons, probation and parole departments, and the court system) and will consider what it means to work within a host environment while continuing to uphold social work values. We will discuss and identify the ways in which institutional racism and classicism impact incarcerated individuals and identify interventions and skills used to work with specific populations including: people living with mental illness, women, individuals who have committed a sexual offense, those experiencing an addiction to drugs or alcohol, youth, and those diagnosed with psychopathy. Finally we will discuss and identify additional methods of dealing with offenses by exploring options such as restorative justice and community based reparations. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW530: Introduction to Grant Writing: Urban Leadership Program students only.

This course exposes students to the principles and skills necessary for effective grant writing. Course topics include identifying the priorities of funders, developing ideas for a winning proposal, and writing succinctly and clearly. Each student prepares a grant proposal for the final course assignment. 0 credits. Required for all Year 2 Urban Leadership Program students concurrent with field placement.

SW531: Key Concepts for Fundraising and Development: Urban Leadership Program students only.

Raising unrestricted dollars for agency budgets is a crucial skill in today's practice world. Focusing on the practitioner as fundraiser, students will learn about social entrepreneurship and the key factors for making fundraising decision. 0 credits.

SW532: Demystifying Agency Budgets: Urban Leadership Program students only.

Direct practitioners are often confused by agency budgets. In this mini course you will learn to read and understand a standard agency budget. Emphasis will be on key indicators that guide reviewing budgets such as revenues, expenses, cash flow, restricted and unrestricted dollars. 0 credits.

SW534: Introduction to Supervision: Urban Leadership Program students only.

This mini course will focus on the fundamentals of supervision including assessment of supervisees, contracting, assignments, and supervision techniques and strategies. 0 credits.

SW538: Radical Social Action: Don't Mourn, Organize!

The economic and social systems in this country are in crisis and social workers are frequently asked to continue to "do more" with less time and resources. This class will attempt to examine some of the root causes of the crisis and develop action plans, which draw upon various models of empowerment theory and practice. Particular attention will be focused upon the Paulo Freire conceptual framework as it applies to organizing models in working class communities. Students will have the opportunity to meet experienced community organizers and learn about successful social justice campaigns here in Boston and in Latin America. Prerequisite: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a social action elective.

SW539: Social Work in the Schools

The course outlines the unique and demanding role that School Social Workers play in our public schools as the primary providers of mental health services, crisis intervention, teacher training and community and parent outreach. Students in this course will identify and explore critical issues related to School Social Work such as: confidentiality, school culture and climate, peer aggression, school violence and policies such as "No Child Left Behind." Students will learn to create and carry out school-based social work interventions. Students taking this course will be expected to participate in the learning process through discussions, interviews, intervention evaluations and case presentations. Prerequisite: SW421A. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW545: Political Action and Strategies for Professional Social Workers

The course is designed to help students learn, in depth, about the policy-making process at the federal level, and to develop skills for political action. The course includes seminars and workshops taught by faculty from Simmons SSW, George Washington University, and George Mason University. Other speakers will include key leaders and advocates in policy and lobbying organizations, as well as professionals from the NASW. Other goals include learning about the health care system in the United States and, specifically, the Medicaid Program. Prerequisite: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the Social Action requirement. Classes will be held at Simmons College and in Washington, D.C. Travel and housing expenses are in addition to the course cost.

SW547A & B Field Education- One Year Placement Option

Requires Instructor permission.

The goal of field education is the application of theoretical concepts and social work principles and values learned in the classroom to clinical practice. Field education provides supervised learning of advanced practice skills with individuals, families and groups in a variety of clinical settings. This course section is 32 hrs/4-days-per-week fall and spring semesters. Concurrent required courses are SW424 in Fall and a clinical practice elective in Spring. Enrollment in SW547 requires advisor approval. 6 credits per semester.

SW553: International Social Work

The course will focus on advocacy and social action from a global perspective. Themes pertinent to international social work in developing countries, such as poverty, hunger, education, globalization, sustainable development, colonialism, and imperialism will be addressed. In addition, the role of civil society, non-governmental organizations, the United Nations, the World Bank, WTO, and IMF in eradicating these conditions will be explored and analyzed using a social justice and human rights perspective in developing countries. In this course, students will also learn about what constitutes international social work, social action and advocacy, and the role of social work in promoting change. Students will be required to develop and implement a project that involves some aspect of advocacy and social action. Prerequisite: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a social action course.

SW554: Healthcare Policy and Social Action

In this course students will gain understanding of health care policy and health care services in the U. S. The culture of illness and society's response to health care needs of individuals will be examined. We will also examine historical and contemporary health policy, as well as social, economic, political, and cultural theories of health and illness, poverty and social justice related to affordability, availability and accessibility of health care services. Managed care models, health maintenance organizations, community health centers, and private practice in health care, financing health care through private and public funding streams (e.g., Medicaid, Medicare, SCHIP, Employer provided, etc.) will also be analyzed for their utility. This course will focus on theories and practice of advocacy and, social and political action that promote social justice within organizations, the larger community, and society. Students will apply the knowledge gained to formulate, influence, and advocate for policy changes in health care delivery at the organizational and/or state and federal level. Prerequisite: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a social action elective.

SW557: Clinical Practice with Immigrants and Refugees

Practice with refugees and immigrants require specialized knowledge about the unique issues of these populations. It also requires specialized adaptations and applications of services and interventions that are grounded in multiculturally responsive, flexible and when appropriate, community-based methods. This course will provide a comprehensive perspective of social work practice—a perspective that entails examination of the multiple factors that effect immigrants and refugees and relevant practice approaches. The course draws on multiple theoretical perspectives including empowerment, ecological, psychodynamic and systemic approaches to practice. Knowledge from political science and history, for example, facilitates an understanding of the influence of immigration policy on the lives of immigrants. Prerequisite: SW421A. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW561: Social Work Practice with Children in Schools and Therapeutic Settings

This course will provide social work students with the knowledge and clinical skills necessary to work therapeutically with children and families. Beginning topics will include the importance of early intervention with parents and children and the need to understand the challenges of parenting, stressing strategies to strengthen the parent-child relationship. This theme will continue with an in-depth study of the early attachment relationship, the consequences of trauma on the neurobiological, emotional and social growth and development of children, and the effects of these factors on children's capacity for learning. Emphasis will be placed on the assessment and treatment with young children (preschool through grade 6) in the public school as well as strategies for engaging parents in the school setting. Students will broaden their understanding of the school social worker's role as counselor, educator, consultant and crisis worker on behalf of children and families. Student inquiry and learning will be guided via professional articles, group engagement and hands-on activities. Prerequisites: SW401A; SW411A; SW421A or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW566: Play Therapy: Theory and Techniques

This class is an introduction to a variety of theories and principles of play therapy. Case material, including student's own material will be used. Readings, videos, case discussions, and experiential activities will be used to deepen the student's understanding of theory and technique. Students will be encouraged to gain comfort in their work with children and to explore their own theoretical orientation. Upon completion, students will have a clear foundation from which to treat children of all ages. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW569: Advanced Standing Seminar

Required for students in the Advanced Standing program, this course is designed to provide a bridge to the concentration year clinical curriculum and field placement. A strong emphasis is on exploring the development of a professional social work identity and on supporting student's increasing self-awareness and ability to learn from practice experience. The course will focus on broadening the capacity for the use of self, promoting reflective practice, conceptualizing various theoretical perspectives and their application to clinical work and enhancing the ability to work across difference. Concurrent with Field SW596.

SW571: Clinical Social Work with Addictions

This course will focus on the nature, etiology and treatment of addictions. It will primarily focus on alcohol, but will also address other chemical and physiological substances. The course will consider the bio-psycho-social nature of abuse and dependence. We will consider the Twelve Step treatment tradition with its spiritual component as well as other treatment approaches such as harm reduction. Prerequisites: SW401A, SW411A, and SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW577: Social Work with Groups (required)

This course is an exploration of the ways in which groups can bring clients together to support, challenge, and create meaningful connections with each other. Through mutual aid, group members can learn the skills that will enable them to improve the relationships in their lives, be more empowered as individuals and community members, and mobilize for social change. Students will concurrently build theoretical and skills-based knowledge and will practice and reflect on various techniques that will enable them to facilitate groups in a wide array of settings across client populations. Prerequisite: SW411A or concurrent enrollment.

SW578 Perspectives on Severe Mental Illness

This course is designed to increase interest in and sensitivity to issues related to persistent mental illness. We will explore the question of what constitutes those with severe mental illnesses, evaluate historical explanations and address the implication of the stigma associated with the illnesses. The contributions of different theoretical perspectives and how they expand our understanding of these complex situations are discussed. Various models of treatment are presented, including: medication, psychodynamic, psychoeducational, and rehabilitation focuses. The actual experiences of those with the illness and their families will be highlighted through guest presentations and film. Students are encouraged to bring in materials from their field experiences. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW582: Attachment and Neurobiology in Social Work Practice

This course addresses the important influences of early and later attachment relationships on one's cognitive, emotional, relational, and neurobiological development. It looks at the ways that interpersonal, community, and cultural connections serve critical neurobiological functions in regulating a person's sense of security and containment, and capacities to act on her strengths. The class examines contemporary research in attachment theory, interpersonal communication, and brain development to understand many clients' presenting symptoms as products of their having had to adapt to chronic extreme stress with limited essential relational and community resources. Students look through a lens of interpersonal neurobiology at common child and adult symptoms of post-traumatic stress related learning difficulties, anxiety, and depression; dysregulation of behaviors associated with violence and addiction; and difficulties negotiating relationships. They learn about the brain's ability to change throughout one's life and specific individual and community interventions that promote these changes. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW583 Advocacy and Social Action and Gerontology

An in-depth understanding of specific issues related to older adults and their families, supporting successful aging, and promoting the older person's empowerment is one outcome from this course. Topics include facts and myths of aging, demographics, diversity of aging, family care-giving, long-term care, elder abuse, death, loss, bereavement, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, depression, sexuality, religion and spirituality are discussed in the context of both policy and practice. Some attention will be given in class lectures to aging around the world and to cross cultural comparisons. Topics that do not appear on the syllabus but are of interest to students may be included in class discussions and can be the focus of the final required paper. Relevant research will be discussed. Prerequisite: SW401A; SW409 or concurrent enrollment. This course meets the requirement for social action elective.

SW584: Clinical Practice with Individuals: A Psychodynamic Model

Psychodynamic theory offers rich and complex ways of understanding human behavior and interaction. It is useful in many clinical settings in brief encounters as well as long-term work. It can be an aid in building strong relationships with clients and a means of understanding and managing one's own reactions to different clients. This course, will explore ways of using psychodynamic theory to inform work with individual adults within the matrix of social work values and interest in context, diversity and social justice. This course will offer a review of recent developments and trends in psychodynamic theory including key concepts in treatment such as transference, countertransference, enactment, working through and affect. We will look at psychodynamic approaches to trauma, crises and desperate situations and the unique aspects of dynamic work with people stressed by poverty. One outcome of this course is to be able to construct a psychodynamic formulation. The class will employ a seminar format with lectures and class discussion of readings. Students' cases will be used to show the application of these ideas and students will be expected to present their clinical work. The major assignment will involve in-depth research into a clinical concept (of the student's choosing) and a discussion of the application of this concept to one or more of the student's cases. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW586: Entrepreneurship: Urban Leadership Program Students only.

To be a leader in this new world economy requires entrepreneurial thinking and action. The non-profit and socially minded profit arenas especially demand creativity and innovation in determining and delivering on the mission of the organization. Whether you plan to start your own social service organization or work your talent in an existing one, this introduction to entrepreneurship and creativity in idea generation and decision making will give you useful tools and food for thought. 0 credits.

SW587: Assessment and Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders

This course examines the connection between mental illness and drug use as a clinical condition that occurs in multiple settings. Students are introduced to the growing science of neurobiology and its impact on clinical work. Important concepts such as "paradox of control" and self-medication thesis. This course will review the identified biological underpinnings of addiction and mental illness and how factors such as heredity, psychology and environment can combine to create "the perfect storm" for dual diagnosis. We will compare evidence-based treatment models such as CBT, DBT, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention and self-help groups. Format includes didactic presentation, application to case material, discussion, experiential exercises films and guest speakers. Prerequisite: SW414. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW588: Core Concepts of Evidenced-Based Practice Trauma Treatment with Child and Adolescents

This course introduces students to the common concepts (general theory and foundational knowledge), components (intervention and treatment elements) and skills (practitioner skills) underlying evidence-based treatment for traumatized children and adolescents. The course will use cases that involve children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events such as natural disasters, war, abuse and neglect, medical trauma and witnessing interpersonal crime (e.g. domestic violence) and other traumatic events. The role of development, culture and empirical evidence in trauma-specific interventions with children, adolescents and their families will be highlighted. In keeping with the ecological perspective the level of functioning of primary care giving environments and the capacity of the community to facilitate restorative processes will be assessed. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW589 DBT in Clinical Social Work Practice

This course provides an overview of the theoretical underpinnings and clinical applications of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Students will learn how to implement DBT into their clinical practice with a diverse client population who present with a range of disorders and psychosocial concerns. DBT interventions focus on integrating skills training into psychotherapy. The four key skill sets include: distress tolerance, mindfulness, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. The course will expand on the theoretical framework of DBT and include how each of these skill sets is implemented in clinical practice. Case examples, student presentations and role-play will be frequently used. Prerequisite: SW421B. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW595: Child and Adolescent Assessment and Diagnosis

This course will provide an overview of major diagnostic categories of childhood mental health and learning disorders, and will provide students with the skills and abilities to conduct clinical assessments with children and adolescents using a bio-psychosocial developmental framework. An area of focus is case formulation and diagnosis. Attention will be given to the dynamics of development and culture, and to the interrelations among biological, psychological, and social/cultural systems. Teaching techniques include didactic presentations, case examples, videos, guest lectures, and class discussions. Prerequisite: SW414. This course meets the requirement for a clinical practice elective.

SW596: Field Education Advanced Standing Students Fall semester only - 5 credits

The goal of field education is to learn the application of theoretical concepts and social work principles and values learned in the classroom to clinical practice. Field education provides supervised learning of advanced practice skills with individuals, families and groups in a variety of clinical settings. This course section is for Advanced Standing students only in their Fall semester of study. Concurrent courses required are SW424, SW414, SW569, SW402 and a social action elective.

SW598: Leadership Development in Anti-Violence Work: The Susan Schechter Social Action Seminar.

Collaboratively sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, The Susan Schechter Leadership Development Fellowship and Simmons School of Social Work, this interdisciplinary seminar is open, with consent of the instructor, to graduate students from any school at Simmons. We encourage those with experience and interest in the fields of domestic violence and child abuse to register. We will study the movement to end violence against women and its connections to issues of race and poverty. Students will identify emerging issues relevant to their work and develop an action project, doing some independent library and field research. Our leadership model is based on the work of Susan Schechter, a feminist pioneer in the anti-violence movement. Through the Family Violence Prevention Fund, we will have access to a network of national leaders in the anti-violence movement. This course meets the requirement for a social action course.

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