Social Work Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups

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About this course

This course focuses on the transactional relationships between people and their social environments.

You will learn social work practice methods to restore, maintain and promote social functioning as it relates to individuals, families, and small groups.

This course integrates content on multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice issues. You will examine social work values and ethics as well as issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, religion, and ability as these relate to social work practice.

This course builds off of behavioral and social science theories to inform the practice concepts and skills presented. You will learn how to perform various social work roles (i.e. counselor/clinical social worker, group facilitator, mediator, and advocate), recognizing that these roles must adhere to social work values and ethics. You will learn the importance of developing relationships with clients, colleagues, supervisors, other professionals, and other constituencies. You will learn how to apply skills such as active listening, empathic responding, contracting, and critical and creative thinking in practice.

All phases of the social work practice intervention process (i.e. engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation) are presented and applied with individuals, families, and small groups.

You will learn how to assess vulnerabilities and strengths in clients’ lives that relate to attributes (e.g. ability, age, class, color, culture, ethnicity, family structure, gender {including gender identity and gender expression}, marital status, national origin, race, religion or spirituality, sex, and sexual orientation) as well as situational and environmental factors relevant to the client’s social functioning.

You will also learn how to assess risks, barriers, and plan, implement and monitor change strategies and evaluate techniques in order to demonstrate effectiveness.

This course is part of the Social Work: Practice, Policy and Research MicroMasters offered byMichiganX.


What you’ll learn

Upon completion of this course, students using a social work practice framework will be able to:

  1. Describe and apply research-based knowledge and frameworks in social work practice with individuals, families and small groups and critique the strengths and weaknesses of these various frameworks.
  2. Recognize the potential impact of race, gender, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, power and privilege on social work practice.
  3. Carry out the roles of counselor/clinical social worker, client services manager, group facilitator mediator, and advocate in a culturally responsive manner by attending to social identities.
  4. Demonstrate basic social work practice skills including active listening, empathic responding, critical/creative thinking, case recording, and contracting.
  5. Operationalize the NASW (National Association of Social Workers) code of ethics and other ethical codes, and recognize value dilemmas that emerge in interpersonal practice.

View Course Syllabus

Meet the instructor

  • bio for Mary Ruffolo

    Mary Ruffolo

    Professor, School of Social WorkUniversity of Michigan

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