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Clinical Mental Health and Addictions

Purpose: This concentration prepares students to provide psychotherapy and addictions services for individuals, families, and groups in rural and small-town settings. Students learn applicable theories for working in a behavioral health setting and have multiple opportunities to practice the application of those theories. Students also receive knowledge and skill development to develop professional relationships with diverse clients with alcohol, drug abuse, and/or behavioral addictions. Specific content on trauma-focused practice is included, in addition to content on macro practice in community mental health or addictions settings. The goal of this concentration is to help students understand how to practice in therapeutic settings, whether working with clients with mental health concerns, addictions issues, or a dual diagnosis.

Field placement opportunities for students in this concentration include private therapy offices, community mental health centers, inpatient mental health and/or addictions treatment settings, substance abuse clinics, drug court, and co-occurring mental health and addictions treatment.

Structure: Track-specific credits: 16 arranged 3, 3-credit Practice classes; 1, 2-credit Practice class; 1, 3-credit supplemental class; and 1, 2-credit supplemental class as outlined below:

SOWK7611: Clinical SW with Individuals (3 credits): Students will explore the four waves of mental health theory: psychodynamic, behaviorism, humanism and post-modern. Students will learn to work from an integrative frame of reference tying together theory and practice. Students will learn specific therapeutic assessment, intervention and evaluation tools to work with individual clients within each of the four paradigms. This course also includes lab-style course work where students have the opportunity to practice the skills and theories that are being taught.

SOWK7612: Clinical SW with Families (3 credits): Students will explore the four waves of mental health theory: psychodynamic, behaviorism, humanism and post-modern. Students will learn to work from an integrative frame of reference tying together theory and practice. Students will learn specific therapeutic assessment, intervention and evaluation tools to work with dyads and family systems within each of the four paradigms. This course also includes lab-style course work where students have the opportunity to practice the skills and theories that are being taught.

SOWK7613: Community Mental Health (3 credits): Students will learn specific assessment, intervention and evaluation tools applicable to the community mental health care system. Students will learn the systemic connection between micro, mezzo, and macro level practice within rural mental health settings. In addition to classroom content, the students will be expected to implement a macro project in the community.

SOWK7616: Beyond the DSM (3 credits): The neurological basis of attachment will be explored. Students will examine the role neurology plays in relationship development and maintenance and how ecological factors influence both. The purpose of this course is not simply to understand how to diagnose clients using the DSM-5. Students also learn the basis for the creation of the DSM and the cultural context needed to understand how to use it.

SOWK7618: Clinical SW with Groups (2 credits): Students will explore group therapy theory and fundamentals of group development and process. As participant learners, students will experience group dynamics through a modified group experience facilitated by the instructor. Students will expand on that learning by leading or co-leading a community group during required internship hours.

SOWK6592 Trauma (2 credits): This course explores the impact of trauma through the lifespan. Trauma theory, assessment, and intervention are emphasized. The connection between the mind and body in regards to both the impact and healing of trauma are integrated into a comprehensive theory of practice.

Internship Expectations: Students in this track will complete 600 hours of practicum. A student can choose to complete all 600 hours in one area of practice (mental health or addictions) or split their hours between mental health and addictions. Ideal placements would provide students with experience in dual diagnosis treatment. Ideally all 600 hours should be completed in the same agency, but certain circumstances may warrant allowing a student to complete placement hours at two agencies (e.g., getting both mental health and addictions experience cannot be accomplished in one agency). All 600 hours should be focused on micro/mezzo practice, though students may count some macro hours as needed by their particular placement site.

General Program: All students will also complete the following courses:

  • SOWK7630: Policy Issues in Rural America
  • SOWK7640: Advanced Research Design
  • SOWK7641: Advanced Research Methodology
  • SOWK7622: HBSE III
  • Elective Credits: 2 credits
  • SOWK7690: Capstone OR SOWK7642: Thesis

Integrated Clinical and Community Practice (ICCP)

Purpose: The purpose of this track is to combine training in a variety of fields of practice for students who are interested in clinical or macro MSW practice, but not in psychotherapy. The track will include content on child welfare, medical, criminal justice, and macro practice. It will also include content at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels of practice in these areas. The systems mentioned typically have cross over in client population and also have similarities in practice approaches. The goal of this concentration is to help students understand how to practice in one or more of these areas of social work while also appreciating the other systems with which their clients are likely to interact.

Field placement opportunities for child welfare include public and private child welfare agencies, juvenile justice programs, court settings, schools, and foster care/adoption agencies. Field placement opportunities for healthcare include dialysis centers, emergency rooms, community health clinics, home health and hospice agencies, and hospitals. Field placement opportunities for criminal justice include county, state, and federal jails/prisons, juvenile justice programs, and court settings. Students interested in macro practice can experience field placement opportunities in almost any setting. Specific agencies providing macro opportunities include NASW, AARP, Salvation Army, Health and Welfare.

Structure: Track-specific credits: 14 arranged 3, 3-credit Practice classes; 1, 2-credit supplemental class; and 3, 1-credit supplemental classes as outlined below:

SOWK7561 Practice III (3 credits): Micro Practice across Systems: This would be a semester-long course focused on individual and family practice in the areas of child welfare, healthcare, and criminal justice. A primary focus will be on in-depth assessment and crisis intervention with 2 weeks spent on each of these areas of practice. Time will be spent both in lecture and activities.

SOWK7562 Practice IV (3 credits): Mezzo Practice across Systems: This would be a semester-long course focused on social work practice with groups and teams within social welfare systems. Attention will be given to three primary foci in mezzo practice. The first area of focus will be on group dynamics and development as might be important for clinicians in child welfare or other settings. The second area of focus will be on interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary teams as might be important primarily in child welfare, healthcare, and criminal justice settings. The final area of focus will be on team dynamics and development as might be important in leadership and/or advocacy settings.

SOWK7563 Practice V (3 credits): Macro Practice across Systems: This would be a semester-long course. Content will focus on four major components: program development, program evaluation (outcomes-based practice), leadership, policy analysis and implementation. These components will be explored using general best practice ideals, but each student will identify one or more areas of practice within which to complete course assignments. In addition to classroom content, the students will be expected to implement a macro project in the community based one or more components of the class.

SOWK6593 Medical Terminology & Pharmacology (2 credits): This course is still being developed. The purpose of this course is to help students learn basic medical terminology as they are likely to encounter as a social worker in a medical setting or interacting with other medical professionals. Additionally, students will learn basic addictions/substance pharmacology, including preparation on the physical and mental effects of psychoactive drugs.

SOWK6594 Grant Writing (1 credit): This course covers the basics of grant writing. During this session, we will examine the basics of grant writing; we will explore sources for finding grant makers, and you will learn the basic skills needed to write a grant. Writing grants is only one of many methods of developing resources for your organization. At the end of this course, you will have a basic understanding of how to navigate through the world of grants. You will be able to identify the critical sections of successful grant proposals, how to respond to various grant guidelines, and so on. The basic components of grant writing include such things as having a “need” statement, knowing the mission, goals, objectives, and activities, of your organization, and understanding the role of evaluation, key personnel, and budgets. The course is designed to provide you a hands-on grant writing opportunity through online exercises, lectures, and classroom discussions.

SOWK6595 Social Work & the Law (1 credit): Course description is still being developed. The purpose of this course is to help students understand the intersection between law and social work practice.

SOWK6596 Domestic Violence (1 credit): Domestic violence, or intimate violence, is becoming more prevalent and reported in our communities. This course will discuss theories behind intimate violence in families, possible causes or different types of intimate violence, as well as discuss intervention strategies for Master’s level social workers when working with families, individual victims, or alleged perpetrators around intimate violence. In addition, students will have the opportunity to further understand intimate violence and how to treat victims, families, and advocate for policy changes on the community and/or state levels.

Internship Expectations: Students in this track will complete 600 hours of practicum. A student can choose to complete all 600 hours in one area of practice or split hours between two areas of practice. Within the 600 hours, every student must complete at least 200 hours at the micro/mezzo levels and 200 hours at the macro level of practice in his/her chosen area(s) of social work practice. Ideally all 600 hours should be completed in the same agency, but certain circumstances may warrant allowing a student to complete placement hours at two agencies.

General Program: All students will also complete the following courses:

  • SOWK7630: Policy Issues in Rural America
  • SOWK7640: Advanced Research Design
  • SOWK7641: Advanced Research Methodology
  • SOWK7622: HBSE III
  • Elective Credits: 4 credits
  • SOWK7690: Capstone OR SOWK7642: Thesis