The University of St. Thomas

School of Social Work

Course Description

Course Description

Masters Program Course Descriptions

Foundation Courses

GRSW 500: History and Philosophy of Social Work

This foundation course provides a framework for professional social work practice. Special emphasis is placed on understanding of the nature, history, traditions and issues of social welfare and of social work. This course provides students with the opportunity to explore the values and ethics, the purposes and focus, the sanctions for practice, and the knowledge base required for professional social work practice.

GRSW 501: Theory and Practice of Social Work I

This course provides the first-year MSW student with the knowledge and skills needed for generalist social work practice with individuals, families, groups, social organizations and broader societal systems. A primary focus is on application of social work knowledge through increased development of skills aimed at integrating and applying the stages of the generalist social work method. There is also an emphasis on communication skills, particularly those employed in interviewing and counseling clients. This course is taken concurrently with GRSW 505.

GRSW 502: Theory and Practice of Social Work II

This course is a continuation of GRSW 501 and is to be taken concurrently with GRSW 506: Field Practicum and Seminar II. The focus is on the development of intervention strategies based on social work knowledge that can be applied to all levels of client systems and human diversity. This course provides opportunity to build knowledge about the concepts of the general method as applied to working with groups and communities. Special emphasis will be given to ethnic sensitive practice. The course will also focus on group theory and group skills and how to social work profession makes use of groups to accomplish individual, family, organizational, and/or community goals.

GRSW 506: Field Practicum and Seminar II

Field practicum is an educationally directed on-site experience under the instruction of an agency-based social work supervisor and a campus-based faculty member. Students complete a total of 400 hours. On-campus seminars (I and II) taken concurrently with the practicum assist the students in the integration and application of practice theory to their placement learning activities. The foundation practicum is taken concurrently with GRSW 501 and 502.

GRSW 540: Human Behavior and the Social Environment

This course will explore the dynamics of human behavior and prepare a foundation of knowledge on which to build clinical practice skills. Through a study of systems theory and the identification of the biological, psychological and sociological variable influencing development, students gain a theoretical base for application to the assessment in client systems. Special emphasis in this course is on the important factors of human diversity as they affect the dynamics of human behavior.

GRSW 580: Methods of Social Work Research

The purpose of this course is to assist students in gaining knowledge and skills and to understand the problems that generalist social workers encounter and the methods for evaluating change. The goals of the course are to have social work students understand and be able to apply research methods and tools to behavior and social environments, needs assessments, assessment of client system functioning, program evaluation and practice effectiveness.

Clinical Concentration Courses

GRSW 603: Methods of Clinical Social Work I

This course provides an overview of theories and intervention methods for social work practice. The course focuses on the clinical interview both with regard to the philosophy and theoretical constructs of the approaches and to the application of those approaches in work with clients from various cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Emphasis is placed on differential aspects of assessment and diagnosis of adults and children, the formulation of a treatment plan, the therapeutic relationship and the process of treatment. This course is taken concurrently with GRSW 607.

GRSW 604: Methods of Clinical Social Work II

This course is a continuation of GRSW 603. It focuses on application of theories and intervention methods in working with diverse clients, significant clinical issues and populations at risk. Emphasis is placed on theories and methods of practice with couples, families and groups. This course is taken concurrently with GRSW 608.

GRSW 608: Field Practicum and Seminar IV

This course provides advanced learning and practice in settings conducive to clinical social work practice under the instruction of an agency-based social work supervisor and campus-based faculty member. Students complete a total of 600 hours. On-campus seminars (III and IV) taken concurrently with the practicum provide guidance for learning, continued application of theory and prior experience and further refinement of social work skills. The clinical field practicum is taken concurrently with GRSW 603 and 604.
GRSW 625: Social Policy and Program Development

This course examines the theories and models of policy process and social planning. Principles of policy development, implementation and analysis are examined in cultural, philosophical and socio-political contexts with an emphasis on social justice. Special emphasis is on the practitioner as active participant in policy and planning processes, the linking of policy and practice and the development of policy competence. The student is provided the opportunity to understand the principles and to develop the skills of organizational change, policy and policy change efforts.

GRSW 645: Psychopathology and Human Behavior

This course explores the dynamics of psychopathology in human behavior. Through the identification of the biological, psychological, sociological and spiritual variables influencing behavior, students gain a theoretical foundation for understanding and assessing psychopathology. The impact of diversity on behavior and the experience of mental illness is explores. Special emphasis in this course is on the complexity of psychopathology and the use and practical limitations of diagnostic systems, especially the DSM-IV.
GRSW 650: Clinical Supervision and Program Management

This course identifies and examines central concerns, theories and models of clinical supervision and program management. Strategies and techniques for establishing, improving and maintaining the supervisory relationship as a mechanism for improving service to clients are considered. Special attention is given to organization dynamics and structure, to delineating the management function and to issues of power and authority. Emphasis is on dynamics of supervision, ethical and value principles, professional boundaries and supervision as a leadership function.

GRSW 681: Social Work Practice Research

This course focuses on evaluating service delivery in all areas of social work practice. A critical appreciation and use of research and program evaluation is developed. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods are studied in research designs from single-subject designs through group designs to program evaluation. A major focus is to develop the knowledge and skills for the student to be an objective evaluator of her/his own practice as well as to be an active participant in adding to the knowledge base of social work practice.

GRSW 682: Applied Research Seminar (Clinical Research Paper)

As seminar participants, students conduct original research in social work practice in a social work setting. This seminar enables students to demonstrate a high level of specialized knowledge and practice expertise. Faculty and students work jointly to critique and assist each other in developing a research design, research instrumentation, data analysis, interpretations and conclusions from the analysis; students then prepare a written clinical research paper and communicate findings in a public forum.

Elective Courses

GRSW 514: School Social Work

This course examines the school as a social institution that serves to educate and socialize children into American society and the role of the social worker in such a setting. Emphasis is placed on discovering similarities and differences between social work and education values and tasks, and the process of integrating social work values into a school setting. Social work with special populations, including racial, cultural and sexual minorities, is discussed. This course also examines specific handicaps to learning and the role of the social worker in helping students, schools and families adjust to and cope with special needs. Emphasis is placed on evaluation of school social work practice. Clinical interventions with children that fit within a school setting are included.

GRSW 515: Social Work and the Law

This course will cover the legal regulation of social work: licensing standards; professional liability, ethical issues, and sanctions; liability of social workers; social worker involvement in the legal processes; testifying in court and depositions. Also covered will be substantive law affecting social work practice in selected areas such as child protection, family practice, criminal law, privacy and confidentiality issues, domestic abuse and legal research.

GRSW 516: Child Welfare Policy

This elective course is designed to give the student an overview of important topics in child welfare practice and policy. Students will be asked to examine their own values about orientations toward child welfare, children?s rights and responsibilities, the nature of maltreatment, and other issues facing the field today, as they affect diverse families. Graduate students taking this course will be expected to show a deeper engagement of the material in the course.

GRSW 523: Practice with Older Adults and Their Families

An introduction to and overview of social work knowledge, skills, and values as applies to working with older adults and their families. Content includes an examination of theories and attitudes toward aging, the nature and limitations of gerontological social work, forces shaping the delivery system, major biopsychological dimensions in practice, and different models of intervention.

GRSW 541: Family Resilience and Diversity

This course presents a family resilience framework for therapeutic and preventative efforts with families. The resilience lens shifts perspective from viewing distressed families as damaged to seeing them as challenged, affirming their potential for repair and growth. Students develop a knowledge base of the experience of diversity through the study of cultural values, life style and family structures.

GRSW 590: Topics

The topics course will vary each semester and provide an in-depth study of particular issues, concerns and trends in social work. Previous topics have included: Child Welfare Policy and Social Work and the Law.

GRSW 605: Progressive Social Work Practice

This course examines the long progressive tradition in social work practice. Students will critically assess the radical literature and apply its principles to clinical social work practice. Major practice principles of progressive social work include forming democratic relationships with clients and coworkers, posing questions and raising consciousness, understanding the ?person is political?, and favoring primary prevention and education to address root causes of social problems.

GRSW 609: The Spiritual Dimension of Social Work Practice

Spirituality is expressed through diverse forms in our clients' lives; it is central to our clients' understanding of suffering and their attempts to resolve it. Therefore, social workers need to be prepared to respond in an effective, spiritually-sensitive manner. In response, this course examines major issues pertaining to spiritually-sensitive social work practice with clients of various religious and non-religious perspectives.

GRSW 612: Grief Counseling and Therapy

This course provides a theoretical framework for understanding loss and grief issues as they relate to social work practice. Special attention is given to non-death losses. Skills are taught for use in recognizing and addressing loss and grief with clients of diverse backgrounds in a variety of practice settings. Students will have opportunities to develop: 1) a knowledge base regarding loss in its various forms and the manifestations of the grief process; 2) knowledge regarding the objectives of and skills relevant to the practice of grief counseling; and 3) skills relevant to self assessment and appropriate and ethical social work practice in the areas of loss and grief.

GRSW 614: Clinical Practice with Children

This course identifies normal stages of child development, with particular emphasis on emotional/social tasks, and formulates social work interventions based on developmental data and need. Theoretical content includes psychological information and paradigms that allow for understanding of child behavior and parental reciprocity. Focus is on both the child's inner experience and relational experience with caregivers as simultaneously contributing to the development of personality and adaptive capacity. Experiences (such as death, parental divorce, abuse, etc.) then are used to consider how children react and accommodate to crises or disruption, in terms of their own psychological well-being. Clinical interventions are discussed to illustrate application of theory to practice and to develop necessary techniques to permit practice competencies.

GRSW 615: Clinical Practice with Couples and Families

This course provides an overview of theory and models of social work intervention with couples and families. Students learn that philosophy and theoretical constructs of a variety of methods, as well as how to apply those methods to clients. In addition, the course focuses on a few common clinical issues that families face, allowing students the opportunity to apply the methods to particular problem areas. Emphasis is placed on both cultural and gender issues, as well as on working with families with both traditional and non-traditional structures.

GRSW 616: Clinical Practice with Groups

This theory-based course develops knowledge and skill for the application of research-informed models of clinical social work with groups. It focuses on the therapeutic factors in group process and the tasks and skills of the clinical social worker in composing groups, facilitating group process on behalf of members, and the skills and techniques for responding to group members' special needs. Special emphasis is placed on cultural and gender-sensitive application of the practice models promoting empowerment processes in groups and their application with special populations at risk. Attention is also given to integrating research in the practice of clinical social work with groups

GRSW 619: Integrative Psychotherapy

This course introduces and demonstrates how integrative psychotherapy using a bio/psycho-social/spiritual perspective is applied to clinical social work practice. This holistic model, based on Transpersonal Psychology, integrates transpersonal psychotherapeutic theory and methodology with body-oriented, creative and contemplative approaches from other east/west disciplines of study. Integrative psychotherapy draws from a range of expressive/healing arts including: art therapy, movement therapy, therapeutic bodywork, relaxation and awareness training. Through both theoretical and experimental perspectives, students will learn effective and appropriate applications of integrative processes in clinical work with individuals, couples, families and groups. Integrative therapy with diverse mental health issues and client populations will be taught through case examples, classroom activities, discussion and assignments. A strong ethical foundation for practice, including the definition of therapist role within this empowerment model, will be emphasized and established throughout the course.

GRSW 621: Brief Dynamic Psychotherapy

This course will examine brief therapies that rely on psychodynamic theory. The course will look at how to assess client's strengths and deficits within the developmental perspective. Emphasis will be on its utilization in individual psychotherapy. The course will look at the notion of therapeutic fit and it's application to the change process. A major focus will be on understanding the process of delivering therapeutic change and how it is instigated and propelled forward both by the client and the therapist. Topics will focus on selection criteria and assessment, establishing goals, strategies for change, the therapeutic relationship and working with resistance. Special topics will be partially arranged around student interest: we will look at the treatment of depression and post traumatic stress disorder in a brief therapy model. The class will utilize a discussion/lecture format with case examples and clinical vignettes.

GRSW622: Clinical Practice with Adolescents

The focus of this course is on developing skills in the diagnosis, assessment and treatment interventions of adolescents in various social work settings.  Special attention will be placed on the role of adolescent development and its contribution to both healthy and maladaptive functioning.  The course will emphasize models from a psychodynamic and family systems perspective. Individual, group and family interventions will be explored.


GRSW 623: Clinical Practice with the Elderly

As part of the Hartford Geriatric Enrichment Grant, this course is designed as a graduate level specialty course on the clinical issues of aging. The course is an examination of aging and the interaction of the biological, psychological, emotional, spiritual and socio-economic factors. By focusing on clinical practice and case management with older adults and their families, the course will provide in-depth knowledge about assessment, diagnosis, treatment and evaluation. In counterpoint to the application of various psychological and cognitive measurement tools, students will discuss the clinical and ethical implications in relation to diversity and populations at risk. Theories of aging and models of intervention will be discussed and critiqued. The role of the clinical social worker will be examined in the various settings and agencies serving aged populations. The course is based on the strengths based perspective and will provide a variety of viewpoints and case examples of best practices with older clients and their families.


GRSW624: Mental Illness: Clinical Issues and Practice

This course is designed to increase knowledge and practice skills when working with adult clients who have a serious mental illness. Various treatment models will be explored, with particular emphasis being placed on models that utilize principles of recovery-based theory and practice. The course will build on content from GRSW 645, Psychopathology and Human Behavior, and will expand learning relative to what are considered the serious and persistent mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Classroom experiences will include lecture and discussion, guest speakers (professionals and consumers), videos, and a site visit to a drop-in center for people with mental illness.


GRSW 626: Clinical Practice for the Treatment of Trauma

This course will focus on an understanding of the psychophysiology of trauma and address clinical work with trauma clients. The course will explore trauma’s impact on the organization of the self and its implications for treatment.


GRSW 627: Clinical Practice in Schools

This course examines the school as a social institution charged with educating and socializing children into American society (Allen-Mears, Washington & Welsh, 2000); and the role of the social worker in such a host setting. Attention is placed on clinical social work with children and adolescents in a school setting, including differential diagnosis and special education mandates. This course examines specific handicaps to 2 learning and the differences between diagnosis and special education labeling. This course emphasizes roles and tasks of the social workers in helping students, schools and families adjust to and cope with special needs. We will explore the process of integrating social work values into a school setting. Emphasis will be placed on evaluation of the effectiveness of school social work interventions.


GRSW 628:  Clinical Practice with Immigrants

This course provides an in-depth study of issues related to clinical social work practice with immigrants and refugees.  It is set in the macro context of understanding global trends in immigration, immigration to the U.S. and related public policy responses in terms of their influence on the lives of persons coming to this country and on the service delivery systems intended to serve them.  Specific clinical skills and strategies for engaging immigrant and refugee clients in various practice settings are emphasized, along with research findings on service utilization of immigrants and refugees. The role of acculturation processes, issues and problems will be addressed in relation to common social service needs of immigrants and refugees. Critical issues of how social workers' cultural and ethnic heritage may affect their clinical practice and work with social work colleagues who themselves have immigrant or refugee backgrounds will be addressed.


GRSW 690: Topics in Social Work

The topics course will vary each semester and provide an in-depth study of particular issues, concerns and trends in social work. Topics have included: Mental Illness: Clinical Issues and Practice, Interprofessional Leadership Seminar and Clinical Practice for the Treatment of Trauma.


IDSW 660: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Health Care Ethics

This course prepares professionals who work in health care settings to assume leadership in dealing with ethical issues. It uses a case-based method to develop skills and depth in applying ethical principles and decision-making procedures to actual and simulated cases. Justice in the delivery of health care and in access to health care is a central ethical issue, and the course includes consideration of this topic. The responsibilities of individual professional practitioners must be viewed within the context of society's responsibility for the well-being of all its members. Professional responsibilities are correlated to patients'/clients' rights: autonomy, informed consent, confidentiality, truthfulness, respect for persons and respect for boundaries.Particular attention is given to situations in which health-care workers face ethical dilemmas in promoting client and family well-being and decision making. Through the activities and assignments of this course, you will be prepared to take a leadership role with your peers and colleagues, in professional organizations and in contributing to the development of public policy.