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Field Education

Department of Social Work

CSWE Competencies

MSW Program Nine Core Competencies Required By Council On Social Work Education

Competency 1: Demonstrate ethical and professional behavior.

Foundation:
Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant laws and regulations that may impact practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.  Social workers understand frameworks of ethical decision-making and how to apply principles of critical thinking to those frameworks in practice, research, and policy arenas.  Social workers recognize personal values and the distinction between personal and professional values.  They also understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions influence their professional judgment and behavior.  Social workers understand the professions’ history, its mission, and the roles and responsibilities of the profession.  Social Workers also understand the role of other professionals when engaged in inter-professional teams.  Social workers recognize the importance of lifelong learning and are committed to continually updating their skills to ensure that they are relevant and effective.  Social workers also understand emerging forms of technology and the ethical use of skills to ensure they are relevant and effective.  Social workers also understand emerging forms of technology and the ethical use of technology in social work practice.

  • Make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to context.
  • Use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situations.    
  • Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and oral, written and electronic communication.
  • Use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes.
  • Use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers value the therapeutic relationship and the professional use of self in practice.  They are aware of and adhere to ethical and legal guidelines for professional behavior.  Clinical social workers are knowledgeable of ethical issues that commonly arise in practice, and seek supervision/consultation to maintain ethical behavior.  Clinical social workers apply ethical reasoning frameworks that allow them to cope effectively with ethical dilemmas. They understand and apply ethical standards and reasoning in the delivery of treatment modalities, including the ethical use of technology. 

  • Identify ethical ambiguity and strategies to gain clarity.
  • Employ strategies of ethical reasoning to address the use of technology in clinical practice and its impact on clients’ rights.
  • Identify and use knowledge of relationship dynamics, including power differentials.
  • Recognize and manage personal biases, transference and counter-transference as they affect the therapeutic relationship in the service of the clients’ well-being

Competency 2:  Engage diversity and difference in practice.

Foundation:
Social workers understand how diversity and difference characterize and shape the human experience and are critical to the formation of identity.  The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status.  Social workers understand that, as a consequence of difference, a person’s life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim.  Social workers also understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values, including social, economic, political, and cultural exclusions, may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power.

  • Apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.
  • Present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experiences.
  • Apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers are knowledgeable and value many forms of diversity and difference. They are aware of how diversity and difference may influence the therapeutic relationship and clients’ presenting issues.  Clinical social workers apply knowledge of intersectionality to realize differences in explanations of illness, help-seeking behaviors, and healing practices.  Clinical social workers demonstrate cultural self-awareness and realize how clinical practice choices are culture-bound. 

  • Apply culturally appropriate intervention skills in practice with diverse populations.
  • Identify and use practitioner/client differences from a strengths perspective.
  • Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate or create or enhance privilege or power.
  • Use and apply research knowledge of diverse populations to enhance client well-being.

Competency 3:  Advance human rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice.

Foundation:
Social workers understand that every person regardless of position in society has fundamental human rights such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education.  Social workers understand the global interconnections of oppression and human rights violations, and are knowledgeable about theories of human need and social justice and strategies to promote social and economic justice and human rights.  Social workers understand strategies designed to eliminate oppressive structural barriers to ensure that social goods, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably and that civil, political, environmental, economic, social, and cultural human rights are protected. 

  • Apply understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels.
  • Engage in practices that advance social, economic, and environmental justice.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers understand the potentially challenging effects of economic, social, organizational, institutional and cultural factors in the lives of clients and client systems. They understand context as it relates to the origin, maintenance, expression, amelioration or prevention of psychological distress. Clinical social workers understand the stigma and shame associated with disorders, diagnoses, and help-seeking behaviors across diverse populations and use this to inform assessment and intervention.  They value equality and strengths associated with diversity.  Clinical social workers support the NASW Code of Ethics. Clinical social workers have knowledge and skills to employ strategies for advancing human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice in domestic and global contexts.

  • Use knowledge of the effects of oppression, discrimination, and historical trauma on client and client systems to guide assessment, treatment planning, and intervention.
  • Advocate for elimination of structural barriers to rights that impede self-actualization.
  • Engage in self-care to help reduce potential harmful affective effects of working with chronically and systematically oppressed people and groups. 
  • Practice in a manner that reflects social work principles and values such as acknowledging worth of person, equality, inclusion in treatment planning and implementation.

Competency 4:  Engage in practice-informed research and research-informed practice.

Foundation:
Social workers understand quantitative and qualitative research methods and their respective roles in advancing a science of social work and in evaluating their practice.  Social workers know the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and culturally informed and ethical approaches to building knowledge.  Social workers understand that evidence that informs practice derives from multi-disciplinary sources and multiple ways of knowing.  They also understand the processes for translating research findings into effective practice.

  • Use practice experience and theory to inform scientific inquiry and research.
  • Apply critical thinking to engage in analysis of quantitative and qualitative research methods and research findings.
  • Use and translate research evidence to inform and improve practice, policy, and service delivery.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers know about evidence-informed interventions and the evidence-informed research process in assessing and understanding best practices. This knowledge enables them to be aware of, and regulate, bias in selecting appropriate intervention strategies.  Likewise, clinical social workers use the knowledge and skill gained through practice to inform the social work knowledge base.  They employ principles and techniques of empirical research in their practice with client systems, up to and perhaps embracing carefully controlled experimental experience reflecting values of the social work profession. They use information about evidence-informed interventions in selecting treatment modalities.

  • Use evidence-informed practice processes in clinical assessment and intervention with clients
  • Routinely access and read current empirically based treatment literature to understand new treatment advances, protocols and skills.
  • Identify ethically sound research practices that inform clinical practice.
  • Use empirical research to temper affective reactions.

Competency 5:  Engage in policy practice.

Foundation:
Social workers understand that human rights and social justice, as well as social welfare and services, are mediated by policy and its implementation at the federal, state, and local levels.  Social workers understand the history and current structures of social policies and services, the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development.  Social workers understand their role in policy development and implementation within their practice settings at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels and they actively engage in policy practice to effect change within those settings.  Social workers recognize and understand the historical, social, cultural, economic, organizational, environmental, and global influences that affect social policy.  They are also knowledgeable about policy formulation, analysis, implementation, and evaluation. 

  • Identify social policy at the local, state, and federal level that impacts well-being, service delivery, and access to social services.
  • Assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services.
  • Apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers recognize the connection between clients, practice, and both public and organizational policy.  Clinical social workers have knowledge of and recognize factors that influence the development of legislation, policies, program services, and funding at all system levels that profoundly affect the life circumstances of actual or potential clients.  They know of and employ advocacy methods that contribute to effective policies that promote social and economic well-being.

  • Communicate to stakeholders the implication of policies and policy change in the lives of clients.
  • Assess how policies impact the well-being of individuals, families, and communities and impact the delivery of services to clients within the organizational structure.
  • Advocate with and inform administrators and legislators to influence policies that impact clients and service.

Competency 6:  Engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Foundation:
Social workers understand that engagement is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers value the importance of human relationships. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to facilitate engagement with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand strategies to engage diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may impact their ability to effectively engage with diverse clients and constituencies. Social workers value principles of relationship-building and inter-professional collaboration to facilitate engagement with clients, constituencies, and other professionals as appropriate.

  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social, environment, person-in environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies.
  • Use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to effectively engage with diverse clients and constituencies.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers involve the dynamic, interactive, and reciprocal processes of therapeutic engagement based on social values.  Clinical social workers have a theoretically informed knowledge base and skills so as to effectively engage with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.  They understand and implement theories (models, metaperspectives, strategies, techniques, and approaches) when engaging with clients. Clinical social workers engage in self-reflection and self-regulation.

  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social, environment, person-in environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clients and constituencies.
  • Use empathy, reflection, the strengths perspective and interpersonal skills to effectively engage with diverse clients and constituencies.
  • Develop a culturally responsive therapeutic relationship.
  • Attend to the interpersonal dynamics and contextual factors that both strengthen and potentially harm the therapeutic alliance.
  • Establish a relationally based process that encourages clients to be equal participants in the establishment of treatment goals and expected outcomes.

Competency 7:  Assess individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Foundation:
Social workers understand that assessment is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in the assessment of diverse clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand methods of assessment with diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers recognize the implications of the larger practice context in the assessment process and value the importance of inter-professional collaboration in this process. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may affect their assessment and decision-making.

  • Collect and organize data, and apply critical thinking to interpret information from clients and constituencies.
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies.
  • Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives based on the critical assessment of strengths, needs, and challenges within clients and constituencies.
  • Select appropriate intervention strategies based on the assessment, research knowledge, and values and preferences of clients and constituencies.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers involve the dynamic, interactive, and reciprocal process of therapeutic multidimensional assessment at multiple levels.  Clinical social workers have a theoretically informed knowledge and skill base so as to effectively perform multidimensional assessments.  They understand and implement theories (models, metaperspectives, strategies, techniques, and approaches) when assessing client situations.  They have skill in recognizing and managing their own affective reactions through the assessment process. Clinical social workers have the knowledge base and know how to synthesize and differentially apply the theories of human behavior and the social environment (biological, developmental, psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual).  They are familiar with diagnostic classification systems used in the formulation of a comprehensive assessment.  Clinical social workers also understand how sociocultural contexts influence definitions of psychopathology. 

  • Use multidimensional bio-pyscho-social-spiritual assessment tools.
  • Assess clients’ readiness for change.
  • Select appropriate intervention strategies based on continuous clinical assessment.
  • Use differential diagnoses in the process of assigning appropriate diagnosis.
  • Use clinical evaluation measures to identify client strengths and skill sets.

Competency 8:  Intervene with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Foundation:
Social workers understand that intervention is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are knowledgeable about evidence-informed interventions to achieve the goals of clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to effectively intervene with clients and constituencies. Social workers understand methods of identifying, analyzing and implementing evidence-informed interventions to achieve client and constituency goals. Social workers value the importance of inter-professional teamwork and communication in interventions, recognizing that beneficial outcomes may require interdisciplinary, inter- professional, and inter-organizational collaboration.

  • Critically choose and implement interventions to achieve practice goals and enhance capacities of clients and constituencies.
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with clients and constituencies.
  • Use inter-professional collaboration as appropriate to achieve beneficial practice outcomes.
  • Negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of diverse clients and constituencies.
  • Facilitate effective transitions and endings that advance mutually agreed-on goals.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers involve the dynamic, interactive, and reciprocal processes of clinical intervention based on social work values.  They have a theoretical and ethically informed knowledge and skill base to effectively intervene with individuals, families, groups, and organizations.  Clinical social workers understand and implement practice theories (models, metaperspectives, strategies, techniques, and approaches) during the intervention process with individuals, families, and groups.  They practice self-awareness and self-regulation in the selection and delivery of appropriate treatment strategies and are attentive to issues of diversity and difference.

  • Collaborate with other professionals to coordinate treatment interventions.
  • Critically evaluate, select, and apply best practices and evidence-informed interventions.
  • Demonstrate the use of appropriate clinical techniques for a range of presenting concerns identified in the assessment, including crisis intervention strategies as needed.
  • Practice in a manner that reflects social work ethics and values.
  • Recognize and attend to affective reactions exhibited and expressed by clients.

Competency 9:  Evaluate individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Foundation:
Social workers understand that evaluation is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Social workers recognize the importance of evaluating processes and outcomes to advance practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment, and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge in evaluating outcomes. Social workers understand qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating outcomes and practice effectiveness.

  • Select and use appropriate methods for evaluation of outcomes.
  • Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-in-environment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the evaluation of outcomes.
  • Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate intervention and program processes and outcomes.
  • Apply evaluation findings to improve practice effectiveness at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels.

Concentration:
Clinical social workers involve the dynamic, interactive, and reciprocal processes of practice evaluation.  They understand the ethical obligation to engage in practice evaluation and are knowledgeable of research methods used in evaluation.  Clinical social workers continuously evaluate treatment outcomes and practice effectiveness.  Clinical social workers use clinical evaluation of the process and/or outcomes to inform practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities, recognizing the interplay between individuals.  Clinical social workers design evaluation methods that are sensitive to social work values recognizing social justice issues in evaluation.  Social work values are used to guide choice of measures with respect to diverse populations.  They share information from evaluation with clients and explain what it means.

  • Measure client treatment progress using single system designs and measurement tools.
  • Use clinical evaluation of the process and/or outcomes to develop best practice interventions for a range of bio-psycho-social-spiritual conditions.
  • Use evaluation information to inform intervention strategies.

 

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