About the St. Thomas MSW focused on clinical social work practice

With an emphasis on clinical practice, clinical supervision, program management and practice-based research, the St. Thomas MSW program provides advanced professional study for women and men in the field of social work. The curriculum’s focus on clinical social work practice develops practice skills in working with individuals, small groups and families dealing with problems such as poverty, discrimination, mental illness, developmental disability and oppression.

Grounded in the social work profession students at the advanced level deepen their understanding of social work identity as the lens through which they engage with advanced level theories and conceptual frameworks of human behavior and the social environment, models of multidimentional assessment and multiple frameworks for evidence informed intervention, particularly in the context of the therapeutic relationship.

Our definition of clinical social work practice

Drawing upon the definitions of clinical social work adopted by the National Association of Social Workers and the Council on Social Work Education, we define the practice of clinical social work in the following manner:

Clinical social work is the professional application of advanced social work theory and methods to help restore, maintain, and enhance bio-psycho-social-spiritual functioning in individuals, groups, families, and communities. It is built upon the foundation of generalist social work including respect for diversity, empowerment of client systems, and advocacy of social and economic justice for vulnerable populations. It utilizes the application of clinical knowledge and skills in multidimentional assessment, diagnosis and treatment of emotional, mental and behavioral disorders, conditions, and addictions with special attention devoted to a strengths and person-in-environment perspective.

There are several distinct features of our MSW program’s clinical curriculum:

  • Required grounding in history and philosophy of the social work profession – at entry into our program all students take GRSW 500: History and Philosophy of Social Work
  • Field placements that provide clinical supervision based on collaborative partnerships with a statewide network in clinical social work community settings
  • All MSW students receive the 30 hours of supervision training needed to be a social work supervisor in Minnesota
  • The St. Thomas MSW is distinguished by its Path to Licensure program. Our graduates' pass rates on the LGSW licensing exam are 20% higher (on average) than the national average. All graduates are academically on-track to meet Minnesota's rigorous clinical social work licensing requirements.
  • Clinically-engaged faculty who maintain clinical practice and/or have recognized clinical expertise.

The MSW Program-at-a-glance provides a good overview of the program or, if you're ready to take the Next Steps, you can sign up to attend an information session, schedule a one-on-one conversation, or start the application process.