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Glossary of Terms for BSW Curriculum

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As part of our accredited mandate by the Council on Social Work Education to develop the implicit or informal curriculum for all students (Education Policy and Accreditation Standards, 3.0, 2008,, this glossary was initially outlined in 2008 by Professor Michael Holosko and Jeff Skinner, MSSW, senior academic professional.  To accomplish this, all of the BSW course syllabi and assignments were reviewed by both a BSW and two MSW students and selected terms were identified and defined accordingly.  These terms shave been reviewed annually (most addition being June 2013) and additional ones have been added as needed in an effort to continue to help shape the BSW learning environment for students at the University of Georgia School of Social Work.

Advanced Generalist Practice

Definition A more inclusive paradigm of social work practice, building upon the generalist approach, in which the practitioner uses a multi-system and multi-level approach, and exercises increased specification and integration of theory, research, and methods to assessment and intervention in practice situations.

References Derezotes, D.S.  (2000). Advanced generalist social work practice.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Gibbs, P., Locke, B.L., Lohmann, R.  (1990). Paradigm for the generalist-advanced generalist continuum.  Journal of Social Work Education, 26(3), 232-243.
Lavitt, M. R. (2009). What is advanced in generalist practice? A conceptual discussion. Journal Of Teaching in Social Work, 29(4), 461-473.
Schatz, M.S., Jenkins, L.E., & Sheafor, B.W.  (1990). Milford redefined: A model of initial and advanced generalist social work.  Journal of Social Work Education, 26(3), 217-231.
Vecchiolla, F. J., Roy, A. W., Lesser, J. G., Wronka, J., Walsh-Burke, K., Gianesin, J., Foster, D., Negroni, L. K. (2001). Advanced generalist practice: A framework for social work practice in the twenty-first century. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 21(3/4), 91-104.

Identifying Terms Focused practice; conscious use of self; practitioner engages simultaneously in theory building, practice-based research, and evaluation; refinement of generalist perspective; working seamlessly in direct and indirect practice as clients’ needs dictate.



Definition The act of intervening on behalf of an individual, group, or community to represent, defend, and support access to resources and/or services, and to address structural obstacles or barriers that restrict civil rights and principles of social justice; a distinction is often made between case advocacy (advocacy for individual rights), and class advocacy (advocacy for rights of a group or specific segment of the population).

Barnes, V. (2012). Social work and advocacy with young people: Rights and care in practice. British Journal of Social Work, 42(7), 1275-1292.
Freeman, I.C.  (2005). Advocacy in aging: Notes for the next generation.  Families in Society, 86(3), 419-423.
McGowan, B.G. (1987).  Advocacy.  In A. Minahan (Ed.-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed., Vol. 1, pp.89-94).  Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.
Sheafor, B.W., & Horejsi, C.R.  (2006). Techniques and guidelines for social work practice (7th ed.).  Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Whittlesey-Jerome, W. (2012). Selling the need for school social work services to the legislature: A call for advocacy. School Social Work Journal, 36(2), 44-55.

Identifying Terms Client/case advocacy; class advocacy; activism for fair allocation of resources and benefits; social policy reform; environmental manipulation; protection of client interests; giving voice; resources and rights to vulnerable and/or oppressed populations; barrier removal.


Definition A primary ethical concern of social research. It refers to both doing no harm to people you are studying and at the same time promoting a common good for individuals in the research community because of your study. Its origin in present day social research in America can be traced back to the Belmont Report of 1978.

References Antle, B. J., & Regehr, C. (2003). Beyond individual rights and freedoms: Metaethics in social work research. Social Work, 48(1), 135-144.
de St. Aubin, E., & Skerven, K. (2003). A banquet of benevolence. Psyccritiques48(6), 791-793. doi:10.1037/000975
Healy, T.C. (2004). Levels of directiveness: A contextual analysis. Social Work in Health Care, 40(1), 71-91.
Murdach, A. D. (1996). Beneficence re-examined: Protective intervention in mental health. Social Work, 41(1), 26-32.
National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. (1978). The Belmont report: Ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human subjects of research. Washington, DC: Author and Sasson, S. (2000). Beneficence versus respect for autonomy: An ethical dilemma in social work practice. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 33(1), 5-16.

Identifying Terms Expression of charity; seeking benefit for others; an attitude of parental concern toward the client/patient; altruism; generosity; benevolence; commitment to improve clients’ situations; caring; sensitivity; compassion.


Best Practice

Definition A technique or method that has been shown through experience and research to reliably lead to a desirable result. The term implies that this technique or method is more efficient and/or effective at delivering a desired outcome than any other technique or method.

References Cohen, B. J. (2011). Design-based practice: A new perspective for social work. Social Work, 56(4), 337-346.
Ferguson, H. (2003). Outline of a critical best practice perspective on social work and social care. British Journal of Social Work, 33, 1005-1024.
Ferguson, H., Jones, K., & Cooper, B. (Eds.) (2008). Best practice in social work: Critical perspectives. Hampshire, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
Lorenz, W. (2007). Practising history: Memory and contemporary professional practice. International Social Work, 50(5), 597-612.
Steinberg, D. M. (2010). Mutual aid: A contribution to best-practice social work. Social Work with Groups, 33(1), 53-68.

Identifying Terms Quality assurance; change process; evidence-based practice; good operating practices.


Case Management

Definition A process by which resources and services are assessed and coordinated at both the client and systems levels, involving assessment for health and social services, coordination and planning, monitoring of service delivery, and advocacy for client rights and entitlements.

References Abell, J., Hughes, J., Reilly, S., Berzins, K., & Challis, D. (2010). Case management for long-term conditions: Developing targeting processes. Care Management Journals, 11(1), 11-18.
Kanter, J., & Vogt, P. (2012). On “being” and “doing”: Supervising clinical social workers in case-management practice. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 82,(2-3). 251-275. doi: 10.1080/00377317.2012.693029
Lillquist, P.P.  (2004). Can case management be used to facilitate diagnostic testing in publicly funded breast cancer screening programs?  Social Work in Health Care, 40(2), 55-71.
National Association of Social Workers. (1992). NASW standards for social work case management. Retrieved March 31, 2008 from
Noel, P.E. (2006).  The impact of therapeutic case management on participation in adolescent substance abuse treatment.  The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 32, 311-327.
Woodside, M. R., & McClam, T. (2005). Generalist case management: A method for human service delivery (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

Identifying Terms Social casework; work with the individual; origins in Charity Organization Societies & Mary Richmond; response to fragmented nature of service delivery; linking resources and services to client needs; applying both direct and indirect practice interventions to assist clients’ move through a  seamless continuum of care.


Clinical Social Work

Definition A specialized form of direct social work practice requiring at least two years of post-graduate supervision, in which the goal of improving the bio-psycho-social functioning of clients is achieved using a person-in-environment perspective, through application of practice models and techniques informed by the practitioners’ broad knowledge base (i.e., a comprehensive understanding of multiple theories and interventions, professional values and ethics, and clinical methods).

References Goldstein, E.G. (2007).  Social work education and clinical learning: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  Clinical Social Work Journal, 35(1), 15-23.
Maschi, T., Baer, J., & Turner, S. G. (2011). The psychological goods on clinical social work: A content analysis of the clinical social work and social justice literature. Journal of Social Work Practice, 25(2), 233-253. doi:10.1080/02650533.2010.54487
Rullo, D.  (2001). The profession of clinical social work.  Research on Social Work Practice, 11(2), 210-216.
Simpson, G.A., Williams, J.C., & Segall, A.B.  (2007). Social work education and clinical learning.  Clinical Social Work Journal, 35, 3-14.
Videka, L., & Goldstein, E. (2012). 50 years and the future of agency-based clinical social work practice: Introduction to the special issue. Clinical Social Work Journal40(2), 119-126. doi:10.1007/s10615-012-0396-z .

Identifying Terms Social case work; psychiatric social work; private practice; counseling; face to face interventions with individuals, small groups, and families.


Code of Ethics

Definition NASW publication that directs the professional conduct of social workers. The Code identifies core values and establishes ethical principles and standards that guide social workers’ decision making and conduct when ethical dilemmas arise.

References Dodd, S. J. (2007). Identifying the discomfort: An examination of ethical issues encountered by MSW students during field placement. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 27(1/2), 1-19.
Freud, S., & Krug, S. (2002).  Beyond the code of ethics, part I: Complexities of ethical decision making in social work practice. Families in Society, 83(5/6), 474-482.
Johns, A. & Crockwell, L. (2009). Reflecting on the use of the code of ethics in sw practice: A Newfoundland and Labrador perspective. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 6(2), 6.
Lens, V. (2004). Social work and the supreme court: A clash of values; a time for action. Social Work, 49(2), 327-330.
National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of Ethics. Washington, DC: Author.
National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. (1978). The Belmont report: Ethical principles and guidelines for the protection of human subjects of research. Washington, DC: Author and
Woodcock, R. R. (2011). Ethical standards in the NASW code of ethics: The explicit legal model, and beyond. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 92(1), 21-27.

Identifying Terms Core values; professional guidelines; ethical standards; ethical principles; moral code; ethical dilemmas; publication for conduct; profession’s code.



Definition The manner in which two or more people work together to achieve a shared goal, often represented in a recursive process which encourages sharing knowledge, reciprocal learning and building consensus.

References Austin, S. A., Briar-Lawson, K., King-Ingham, A., Spicer, J., & Davis, D. (2005). Role changes, learning enhancements and professional development through a university-school collaborative. Professional Development, 8(2/3), 84-97.
Begun, A. L., Berger, L. K., Otto-Salaj, L. L., & Rose, S. J. (2010). Developing effective social work university-community research collaborations. Social Work55(1), 54-62.
Mills-Dick, K., Geron, S. M., & Erwin, H. (2007). Evaluation through collaboration: A model program of agency-based training in geriatric social work. Journal of Gerontological Social Work50(1-2), 39-57.

Identifying Terms Collective, coordination, teamwork, unity, harmony


Community Development

Definition A method by which social workers assist community members in resource development and network promotion to encourage growth of the community as a source of social, economic, political, and cultural support to its people.

References Aimers, J., & Walker, P. (2011). Incorporating community development into social work practice within the neoliberal environment. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review, 23(3), 38-49.
Barron, C., & Taylor, B. J. (2010). The right tools for the right job: Social work students learning community development. Social Work Education, 29(4), 372-385. doi:10.1080/02615470903079091
Brueggemann, W.G.  (2002). The practice of macro social work (2nd ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Group.
Austin, C.D., Camp, E.D., Flux, D., McClelland, R.W, & Sieppert, J.  (2005). Community development with older adults in their neighborhoods: The elder friendly communities program.  Families in Society, 86(3), 401-409.

Identifying Terms Community self-determinism; local control of institutions and resources; macro practice methods; community boards,; economic development; community initiatives; neighborhood re-vitalization; community empowerment; community assets/capacities; community is the ‘client’.




References Forrester, D., Kershaw, S., Moss, H., & Hughes, L. (2008). Communication skills in child protection: How do social workers talk to parents?. Child & Family Social Work13(1), 41-51. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2206.2007.00513.x
Koprowska, J. (2005). Communication and interpersonal skills in social work. Exeter, UK : Learning Matters, 2005.
Padykula, N. L., & Horwitz, M. (2012). Using psychodynamic concepts to measure interpersonal competencies during social work training. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies9(1), 48-61. doi:10.1002/aps.312
Trevithick, P. (2001). Social work skills: practice handbook. Buckingham England; Philadelphia, P : Open University Press.

Identifying Terms Interpersonal skills, cross-cultural communication, messages.



Definition Curriculum consisting of advanced courses and practicum, designed to provide the social work student with more in- depth knowledge and skills in specific areas of professional concern.

References Austin, M. J., Coombs, M., & Barr, B. (2006). Community-centered clinical practice: Is the integration of micro and macro social work possible?. Journal of Community Practice, 13(4), 9-30.
Barker, R.L. (1999).  The social work dictionary (4th ed.)  Washington, DC: NASW Press.
Council on Social Work Education. (2004). Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Retrieved April 1, 2008 from
The University of Georgia. (2005-2006). MSW Program Student Handbook.
Gamble, D. N. (2011). Advanced concentration macro competencies for social work practitioners: Identifying knowledge, values, judgment and skills to promote human well-being. Journal of Community Practice, 19(4), 369-402.

Identifying Terms Advanced social work knowledge; macro vs. micro track; family centered social work practice vs. community empowerment and program development.



Definition An ethical standard that guides social work. Confidentiality refers to the protection of clients’ private information unless the client has given valid, informed consent for disclosure of said information. The expectation that information will be kept confidential does not apply when professional disclosure is necessary to prevent foreseeable, immediate, and serious harm to the client or to another identifiable individual.

References Bennett, S. (2011). Confidentiality in clinical writing: Ethical dilemmas in publishing case material from clinical social work practice. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 81(1), 7-25.
Millstein, K. (2000). Confidentiality in direct social-work practice: Inevitable challenges and ethical dilemmas. Families in Society, 81(3), 270–282.
National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of Ethics. Washington, DC: Author.
Saxon, C., Jacinto, G. A., & Dziegielewski, S. F. (2006). Self-determination and confidentiality: The ambiguous nature of decision-making in social work practice. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 13(4), 55-72.

Identifying Terms Protection of information; ethical principle in social work practice; a professional obligation; the state of keeping secret information; not identifying individuals.


Core Foundation Courses

Definition Accredited courses providing essential knowledge and skills needed for beginning and advanced study in the social work field, minimally including: values and ethics, diversity, populations-at-risk and social and economic justice, human behavior and the social environment, social welfare policy and services, social work practice, research, and field education.

References Council on Social Work Education. (2004). Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. Retrieved April 1, 2008 from
Galambos, C., & Greene, R. R. (2006). A competency approach to curriculum building: A social work mission. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 48(1-2), 111-126.
Kolomer, S.R., Lewinson, T., Kropf, N.P., & Wilks, S.E. (2006).  Increasing aging content in social work curriculum: Perceptions of key constituents.  Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 48(1/2), 97-111.
The University of Georgia. (2005-2006). MSW Program Student Handbook.
Maschi, T., Baer, J., & Turner, S. G. (2011). The psychological goods on clinical social work: a content analysis of the clinical social work and social justice literature. Journal of Social Work Practice25(2), 233-253. doi:10.1080/02650533.2010.544847.

Identifying Terms Core practice courses for licensure and certification; CSWE required core foundation courses.


Core Social Work Values

Definition The framework for the social work profession, consisting of: a commitment to service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, self- determination, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.

References Bisman, C. (2004). Social work values: The moral core of the profession. The British Journal of Social Work, 34(1), 109-123.
Duffy, J., & Hayes, D. (2012). Social work students learn about social work values from service users and carers. Ethics and Social Welfare, 6(4), 368-385. doi:10.1080/17496535.2012.654497
Kirst-Ashman, K.K., & Hull, G.H.  (2002). Understanding generalist practice (3rd ed.).  Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.
Reamer, F.G.  (2006). Social work values and ethics (3rd ed.).  New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Sheafor, B.W., & Horejsi, C.R.  (2006). Techniques and guidelines for social work practice (7th ed.).  Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

Identifying Terms Mission of social work; foundation of social work practice; ethical principles; promotion of self-determination; NASW code of ethics; definition of social work practice; a client-centered validity check of our practice.


Critical Thinking

Definition Assessing, analyzing, appraising, and evaluating a situation, issue, or idea, by challenging underlying assumptions, considering multiple perspectives, and applying reason, judgment, and knowledge, to make an informed decision about it; process requires objectivity, intelligent skepticism, open-mindedness, persistence, and decisiveness.

References Anderson-Meger, J. (2011). Critical thinking and e-learning in social work education. International Journal of Business, Humanities & Technology, 1(2), 17-27.
Coleman, H., Rogers, G., & King, J.  (2002). Using portfolios to stimulate critical thinking in social work education.  Social Work Education, 21(5), 583-595.
Gambrill, E. (1997).  Social work practice: A critical thinker’s guide.  New York: Oxford University Press.
Gibbons, J., & Gray, M.  (2004). Critical thinking as integral to social work practice.  Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 24(1/2), 19-38.
Holosko, M. J. (2005). Primer for critiquing social research: A student guide. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Miller, S. E., Hall, D. M., & Tice, C. J. (2009). Assessing critical thinking: The use of literature in a policy course. Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, 14(2), 89-104.

Identifying Terms Working knowledge base; link between theory and practice; evaluation of process and content; synthesis, comparison, and evaluation of ideas; appraising content in different/new ways; accreditation requirement.


Cultural Competence

Definition One of social work’s core ethical responsibilities to clients. It refers to a social worker’s responsibilities in understanding the relationship between culture and personal identity, recognizing the uniqueness and strengths within varying cultures, and experiencing and studying cultural and ethnic diversity.

References Allen-Meares, P. (2007). Cultural competence: An ethical requirement. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity, 16(3/4), 83-92.
Guy-Walls, P. (2007). Exploring cultural competence practice in undergraduate social work education. Education, 127(4), 569-580.
Lee. E. (2010). Revisioning cultural competencies in clinical social work practice. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 91(3), 272-279.
National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of Ethics. Washington, DC: Author.
Simmons, C., Diaz, L., Jackson, V., & Takahashi, R. (2008). NASW cultural competence indicators: A new tool for the social work profession. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 17(1), 4-20.
Warde, B. (2012). The cultural genogram: Enhancing the cultural competency of social work students. Social Work Education, 31(5), 570-586. doi:10.1080/02615479.2011.593623.

Identifying Terms Competence; cultural sensitivity; sensitivity to diversity; lifelong cultural assessment; cultural advocacy as a part of competence; expansion of an individual’s cultural knowledge base.


Direct Practice

Definition A domain of social work, in which practitioners interact personally with clients, typically face-to face using a range of professional skills and methods, to help them achieve their desired goals.

References Corcoran, K., & Fisher, J. (2000). Measures for clinical practice: a sourcebook. New York, NY, US: Free Press.
Franklin, C.  (2001). Coming to terms with the business of direct practice social work. Research on Social Work Practice, 11(2), 235-244.
Feit, M.D. (2003). Toward a definition of social work practice: Re-framing the dichotomy. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3), 357-365.
Sheafor, B. W. (2011). Measuring effectiveness in direct social work practice. Social Work Review/ Revista De Asistenta Sociala, (1), 25-33.

Identifying Terms Micro social work practice; therapy with individuals; marriage and family therapy; face to face interventions with individuals, small groups and families; counseling; clinical practice.



Definition Respecting and safeguarding the individuality of all people resulting from differences in factors such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic level, age, gender, disability, among others.

References Bowie, S.L., Hall, J. C., & Johnson, O. J. (2011). Integrating diversity into graduate social work education: A 30-year retrospective view by msw-level African American social workers. Journal of Black Studies, 42(7), 1080-1105.
Jani, J. S., Pierce, D., Ortiz, L., & Sowbel, L. (2011). Access to intersectionality, content to competence: Deconstructing social work education diversity standards. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(2), 283-301
Kohli, H.K., & Faul, A.C.  (2005). Cross-cultural differences towards diversity issues in attitudes of graduating social work students in India and the United States. International Social Work, 48(6), 809-822.
Maidment, J., & Cooper, L. (2002). Acknowledgement of client diversity and oppression in social work student supervision.  Social Work Education, 21(4), 399-407.

Identifying Terms Heterogeneity; difference; diverseness; dissimilarity; promoting, tolerating and celebrating difference.



Definition A graphical representation of all the systems at play in an individual’s life often used in individual or family counseling  to encompass and better evaluate an individual.

References Hodge, D. R. (2000). Spiritual ecomaps: A new diagrammatic tool for assessing marital and family spirituality. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy26(2), 217-228.
Kennedy, V. (2010). Ecomaps. MAI Review, (3), 1-12.
Ray, R. A., & Street, A. F. (2005). Ecomapping: An innovative research tool for nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50(5), 545-552. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2005.03434.x
Richardson, B., & Derezotes, D. (2010). Measuring change in disproportionality and disparities: Three diagnostic tools. Journal of Health and Human Services Administration33(3), 323-352.

Identifying Terms Care networks, social support, ecological systems.


Economic Justice

Definition The basic principle and understanding of economic fairness which aims to  achieve an economic equality of among participants through allocation of benefits, policies, programs, opportunities, and protection rights. 

References Goldberg, G. S. (2012). Economic inequality and economic crisis: A challenge for social workers. Social Work57(3), 211-224.
Lundy, C., & van Wormer, K. (2007). Social and economic justice, human rights and peace: The challenge for social work in Canada and the USA. International Social Work50(6), 727-739.
Mitchell, J., & Lynch, R. (2003). Beyond the rhetoric of social and economic justice: Redeeming the social work advocacy role. Race, Gender & Class, 10(2), 8-26.

Identifying Terms Social justice, economic factors, social differences.



Definition The ability to identify with or vicariously experience the feelings, thoughts, situation, or attitude of another individual.

References Freedberg, S. (2007). Re-examining empathy: A rational-feminist point of view. Social Work, 52(3), 251-259.
Gerdes, K. E., & Segal, E. A. (2011). Importance of empathy for social work practice: Integrating new science. Social Work, 56(2), 141-148.
Gerdes, K. E., Segal, E. A., Jackson, K. F., & Mullins, J. L. (2011). Teaching empathy: A framework rooted in social cognitive neuroscience and social justice. Journal of Social Work Education, 47(1), 109-131.
King, S. H. (2011). The structure of empathy in social work practice. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 21(6). 679-695. doi: 10.1080/10911359.2011.583516
Lu, Y. E., Dane, B., & Gellman, A. (2005). An experiential model: Teaching empathy and cultural sensitivity. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 25 (3/4), 89-103.
Tempel, L. R. (2007). Pathways to the clinician’s experience of empathy in engaging single mothers at risk for physical abuse of their children. Clinical Social Work Journal, 35(4), 257-265.

Identifying Terms Compassion, cultural sensitivity, empathic communication; sincere responsiveness; warmth; ‘being with the client’; perspective taking; interpersonal sensitivity; altruism; caring; congruence; therapeutic alliance.



Definition An increase in perceived self-efficacy, resulting from a belief in the ability to positively influence ones’ environment and improve personal circumstances.

References Adams, R. (2008). Empowerment, participation and social work (4th ed.). Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, NY, US: Palgrave Macmillan.
Holosko, M., Leslie, D., & Cassano, D.R.  (2001). How service users become empowered in human service organizations: The Empowerment model. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 14(2), 126-132.
Lee, J. A. B. (2001). The empowerment approach to social work practice. (2nd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.
Sparks, A, Peterson, N.A., & Tangenberg, K. (2005).   Belief in personal control among low-income African American, Puerto Rican, and European American single mothers.  Affilia: Journal of Women & Social Work, 20(4), 401-415.
Song, L. (2012). Service utilization, perceived changes of self, and life satisfaction among women who experienced intimate partner abuse: The mediation effect of empowerment. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 27(6), 1112-1136.
Van Voorhis, R.M., & Hostetter, C.  (2006). The impact of MSW education on social worker empowerment and commitment to client empowerment through social justice advocacy.  Journal of Social Work Education, 42(1), 105-121.

Identifying Terms Self-efficacy; internal locus of control; self-determination; disempowerment; process of doing for one’s self; overcoming barriers to negotiate systems for one’s self; self-actualization; making better decisions in one’s life; re-claiming social power; having a ‘right to say’ and ‘to be heard’.


Empowerment-oriented Practice

Definition A paradigm of social work practice that addresses power inequities on organizational, political, and personal levels by emphasizing client strengths, increasing self-efficacy, encouraging advocacy, safeguarding self-   determinism and delivering education in the form of a collaborative and egalitarian helping relationship.

References Chapin, R., & Cox, E. O. (2001).  Changing the paradigm: Strengths-based and empowerment-oriented social work with frail elders.  Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 36(3/4), 165-178.
Cox, E. O. (2002). Empowerment-oriented practice applied to long-term care. Journal of Social Work in Long-Term Care1(2), 27-46.
Gutierrez, L. (2003). Empowerment in social work practice: A sourcebook. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Lee, J. B., & Hudson, R. E. (2011). Empowerment approach to social work practice. In F. J. Turner (Ed.), Social work treatment: Interlocking theoretical approaches (5th ed.) (pp.157-178).New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press.
Rose, S. M.  (2000). Reflections on empowerment-based practice. Social Work, 45(5), 403-412.

Identifying Terms Strengths perspective; social justice principles; client liberation; social change model; value-based practice; disempowerment; fostering self-determinism.


Ethical Practice Dilemmas

Situations in social work practice requiring that decisions be made under circumstances where core values of the profession are in conflict.

References Bennett, S. (2006). Clinical writing of a therapy in progress: Ethical questions and therapeutic challenges. Clinical Social Work Journal, 34(2), 215–226.
Kadushin, G., & Egan, M.  (2001). Ethical dilemmas in home health care: A social work perspective.  Health and Social Work, 26(3), 136-149.
Kirst-Ashman, K.K., & Hull, G.H.  (2002). Understanding generalist practice (3rd ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.
Reamer, F.G.  (2006). Social work values and ethics (3rd ed.).  New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Wilson, D. (2012). Ethical dilemmas in social work practice with disabled people: The use of physical restraint. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities, 16(2), 127-133. doi:10.1177/1744629512444986
Wilson, G. (2002). Dilemmas and ethics: Social work practice in the detection and management of abused older women and men. Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, 14(1), 79-94.

Identifying Terms
Clash of core values; hierarchy of values; contradictory ethical principles; complex ethical decision-making.


Evidence-Based Practice

The systematic use of available empirical evidence to better inform and direct interventions and treatment methods to ensure their effectiveness.

References Gambrill, E. (2006). Evidence-based practice and policy: Choices ahead. Research on Social Work Practice, 16(3), 338-357.
Gibbs, L., & Gambrill, E. (2002). Evidence-based practice: Counterargument to objections. Research on Social Work Practice, 12(3), 452-476.
Gray, M., & McDonald, C. (2006). Pursuing good practice? The limits of evidence-based practice. Journal of Social Work, 6(1), 7-20.
Howard, M. O., McMillen, C. J., & Pollio, D.E. (2003). Teaching evidence-based practice: Toward a new paradigm for social work education. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(2), 234-259.
Pollio, D.E.  (2006). The art of evidence-based practice.  Research on Social Work Practice, 16(2), 224-232.
Rosen, A. (2003). Evidence-based social work practice: challenges and promise.  Social Work Research, 27(4), 197-208.
Webb, S.A.  (2001). Some considerations on the validity of evidence-based practice in social work. British Journal of Social Work, 31, 57-79.
Zayas, L., Drake, B., & Jonson-Reid, M. (2011). Overrating or dismissing the value of evidence-based practice: Consequences for clinical practice. Clinical Social Work Journal, 39(4), 400-405. doi:10.1007/s10615-010-0306-1.

Identifying Terms
Empirically supported treatment; best evidence practice; research and evaluation based; best practices; empirical practice; judicious use of empirical practice; ethical practice requirement; practitioner-researcher model; teaching/learning to ask better informed questions.


Evidence- Informed Practice

Definition This is the new social work phrase that supplants the previous term evidence-based practice. It refers to any empirical or case evidence that can be used to direct and inform practice.

References Arnd-Caddigan, M. (2011). Toward a broader definition of evidence-informed practice: Intersubjective evidence. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services92(4), 372-376.
Cordingley, P. (2008). Research and evidence-informed practice: Focusing on practice and practitioners. Cambridge Journal of Education38(1), 37-52.
Dill, K., & Shera, W. (2012). Implementing evidence- informed practice: International perspectives. Warsaw, NY: Brown Bear Press.
Thomlison, B.,  & Corcoran, K. (2007). The evidence-based internship: A field manual. New York, NY: University Press.

Identifying Terms Research utilization, learning processes, research and development, research-informed practice.


Fields of Practice

Definition The diverse range of social work practice settings of the profession, including, but not limited to, mental health, healthcare, school social work, gerontology, international/global social work, occupational social work, child and family services, and criminal justice.

References Barker, R.L. (1999).  The social work dictionary (4th ed.)  Washington, DC: NASW Press.
Dulmus, C. N., & Sowers, K. M. (2012). Social work fields of practice: Historical trends, professional issues, and future opportunities. Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Hopps, J.G., & Pinderhuges, E.B. (1987).  Profession of social work: Contemporary characteristics.  In A. Minahan (Ed.-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed., Vol. II, pp. 351-366).  Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.
Raymond, G.T.  (1996). Is “field of practice” a relevant organizing principle for the MSW curriculum?  Journal of Social Work Education, 32(1), 19-30.
Ritter, J. A., Vakalahi, H. F., & Kiernan-Stern, M. (2009). 101 careers in social work. New York, NY, US: Springer Publishing Company.
Schneiderman, J. U., Waugaman, W. R., & Flynn, M. S. (2008). Nurse social work practitioner: A new professional for health care settings. Health & Social Work, 33(2), 149-154.

Identifying Terms Where we practice with our clients; area of expertise; social work occupations; social work practice domains.


Generalist Practice

Definition The ability to assess issues of practice from a broad perspective, and to exercise the necessary skills and knowledge to intervene at multiple levels, and in a range of situations. Generalist problem solving-approach consists of the following steps: interaction and engagement, assessment, planning, implementation of direct and indirect practice actions, evaluation, and termination.

References Bonifas, R. P., Fredriksen-Goldsen, K. I., & Bailey, K. A. (2009). Recognizing the importance of aging skills and knowledge in generalist social work practice: Effective strategies for MSW students. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 30(3), 205-225.
Johnson, L.C., & Yanca, S. J. (2006).  Social work practice: A generalist approach (9th ed.).  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Hall, R. (2008). The evolution of social practice: Implications for the generalist approach. International Journal of Social Welfare, 17(4). 390-395. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2397.2008.00558.x
Kirst-Ashman, K.K., & Hull, G.H.  (2002). Understanding generalist practice (3rd ed.).  Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning.
Sheafor, B.W., & Landon, P.S. (1987).  International social work education. In A. Minahan (Ed.-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed.,Vol.I, pp. 660-669). Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.

Identifying Terms Generic foundation; versatility of practice; multi-method worker; utility worker.



Definition A pictorial display of one’s familial background, relationships, and medical history which resembles a family tree but focuses more on hereditary patterns that can highlight repetitive patterns to better analyze and understand a family and its individuals.

References Lim, E. S. (2008). Videography and genograms as tools of social work intervention. International Journal of the Humanities, 6(2), 111-121.
Rempel, G. R., Neufeld, A., & Kushner, K. E. (2007). Interactive use of genograms and ecomaps in family caregiving research. Journal of Family Nursing13(4), 403-419.
Warde, B. (2012). The cultural genogram: Enhancing the cultural competency of social work students. Social Work Education, 31(5), 570-586. doi:10.1080/02615479.2011.593623

Identifying Terms Family characteristics, family relations, family tree.



Definition The increasing interaction and interdependence of countries in international economic, technological, and cultural realms, leading to shifts in social policy, social justice, and power distribution, often to the detriment of vulnerable and oppressed populations.

References Edwards, B. L. (2011). Social work education and global issues: Implications for social work practice. Education, 131(3), 580-586.
Findlay, M, & McCormack, J.  (2005). Globalisation and social work: A snapshot of Australian practitioners’ views.  Australian Social Work, 58(3), 231-243.
Gamble, D. N. (2012) Well-being in a globalized world: Does social work know how to make it happen?. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(4), 669-689.
Lyons, K. (2006).  Globalization and social work: International and local implications.  British Journal of Social Work, 36(3), 365-380.
Polack, R.J. (2004).  Social justice and the global economy: New challenges for social work in the 21st century.  Social Work, 49(2), 281-290.
Rowe, W.  (2000). Social work and globalization (Special Issue) July, Volume 2. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Association of Social Workers.
West, D., & Heath, D. (2011). Theoretical pathways to the future: Globalization, ICT and social work theory and practice. Journal of Social Work, 11(2), 209-221. doi:10,1177/1468017310386835.

Identifying Terms Global economy; debt crisis; interdependent nations; trans-national organizations; ‘the Global village’; human intervention to enhance well-being; international economic and social development; human rights.


Human Service Agency

Definition Non-profit and governmental organizations which provide high quality services to enable people to develop their fullest potential and promote well-being while maintaining the ethical responsibility. 

References Bellamy, J. L., Bledsoe, S. E., Mullen, E. J., Fang, L., & Manuel, J. I. (2008). Agency-university partnership for evidence-based practice in social work. Journal of Social Work Education44(3), 55-75.
Martin, L., & Hazlett-Knudsen, R. (2012). Change and continuity in state human service agencies: 1986–2006. Administration in Social Work36(1), 85-100. doi:10.1080/03643107.2011.562065
Tiamiyu, M. F., & Bailey, L. (2001). Human services for the elderly and the role of university-community collaboration: Perceptions of human service agency workers. Educational Gerontology27(6), 479-492.

Identifying Terms Social services, service delivery, government agencies, public welfare organizations.


IASSW Mission Statement

Definition “Stated purpose of the International Association of Schools of Social Work; promotes excellence in social work education, research, and scholarship, the creation and maintenance of a dynamic community of social work programs, the support and facilitation of participation in mutual exchanges of information and expertise, and the representation of social work education at the international level in the continued pursuit of social justice and social development.”

References IASSW official website.  About IASSW: Mission.  Retrieved March 24, 2007, from
Healy, L. M. (2008). Introduction: A brief history through the 80 year history of the International Association of Schools of Social Work. Social Work and Society, 6(1). Retrieved from
Kendall, K.A.  (1987). International social work education. In A. Minahan (Ed.-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed.,Vol.I, pp. 987-996).  Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.
Sewpaul, V., & Jones, D. (2005). Global standards for the education and training of the social work profession. International Journal of Social Welfare, 14(3), 218-230. doi:10.1111/j.14682397.2005.00362.x.

Identifying Terms
International promotion of social work education; international consensus of social work education and values; globalization; global social work practice.


Indirect Practice

Definition Areas of social work practice, mainly, administration, supervision, research, evaluation, policy development, planning, community development, consulting, and education that do not necessarily involve immediate or personal contact with clients, but facilitate client change, often at the meso and macro level.

References Barker, R.L. (1999).  The social work dictionary (4th ed.)  Washington, DC: NASW Press.
Brueggemann, W. G. (2005). The practice of macro social work. (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Feit, M.D. (2003). Toward a definition of social work practice: Re-framing the dichotomy. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3), 357-365.
Hill, K. M., Ferguson, S. M., & Erickson, C. (2010). Sustaining and strengthening a macro identity: The association of macro practice social work. Journal of Community Practice18(4), 513-527. doi:10.1080/10705422.2010.519684
Netting, F. E., Kettner, P. M., & McMurtry, S. L. (2003). Social work macro practice. (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Patti, R. (2003). Reflections on the state of management in social work. Administration in Social Work27(2), 1-11.

Identifying Terms Macro social work practice; mezzo social work practice; policy advocacy; community organizations; community development; community planning; focusing on systems of change; organizational development.



Definition The process of identity formation whereby a person differentiates from others in order to develop an autonomous and unique self.

References Barth, F.D. (2003). Separate but not alone: Separation-individuation issues in college students with eating disorders.  Clinical Social Work Journal, 31(2), 139-153.
Eliezer, K., Yahav, R., Or Hen, K. (2012). The internalization of the “father” object among young men and its relation to separation- individuation patterns, anxiety and depression. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 29(4), 323-344.
Moody, H.R. (2005). Dreams for the second half of life.  Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 45(3), 271-292.
Parmiani, L., Iafrate, R., & Giuliani, C. (2012). Loyalty conflict, feelings of unfairness, and young adults’ individuation difficulties in separated and nonseparated families. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 53(5), 386-4101. doi:10,1080/10502556.2012.682889.

Identifying Terms Self-actualization; ego integrity; differentiation; separation-individuation process; development of independent identity; individualized assessment and intervention.


Informed Consent

Definition A guideline of an Institutional Review Board (IRB) when conducting research involving human subjects. Obtaining informed consent is a process that involves the researcher explaining the research project to the subject(s), answering any relevant questions, and debriefing after completion of the study, if necessary.

References Burkermper, E. M. (2004). Informed consent in social work ethics education: Guiding student education with an informed consent template. Journal of Teaching In Social Work, 24(1/2), 141-160.
National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of Ethics. Washington, DC: Author.
Palmer, N. & Kaufman, M. (2003). The ethics of informed consent: Implications for multicultural practice. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 12(1), 1-26.
Pollack, D. (2004). Getting informed consent—more than just a signature. Policy & Practice of Public Human Services, 62(2), 28-28.
Salas, H., Aziz, Z., Villareale, N., & Diekema, D. S. (2008). The research and family liaison: Enhancing informed consent. IRB: Ethics & Human Research, 30(4), 1-8.
Zayas, L. H., Cabassa, L. J., & Perez, M. C. (2005). Capacity-to-consent in psychiatric research: Development and preliminary testing of a screening tool. Research on Social Work Practice, 15(6), 545-556.

Identifying Terms A signed form used to gain permission for research participation; a voluntary action; ethical responsibility of social workers; ‘a continual communication process’; written consent; verbal consent; parental consent.



Definition Leadership involves a set of personal attributes, skill competencies, and leadership intuition. The five core attributes that define leadership include: a) vision, b) influencing others to act, c) teamwork/collaboration, d) problem-solving capacity, and e) creating positive change.

References Brilliant, E. (1986). Social work leadership: A missing ingredient? Social Work, 31(5), 325-331.
Gellis, Z. D. (2001). Social work perceptions of transformational and transactional leadership in health care. Social Work Research, 25(1), 17-25.

Hartley, J., & Allison, M. (2006). The role of leadership in the modernization and improvement of public services. In D. Mayle (Ed.), Managing innovation and change (3rd ed.) (pp. 225-233). Thousand Oaks, CA, US: Sage Publications Ltd.
Holosko, M. J. (2009). Social work leadership: Identifying core attributes. Journal of Human Behavior In The Social Environment,19(4), 448-459. doi:10.1080/10911350902872395
McNabb, D. (2009). Professional leadership for social work in state mental health services in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work Review21/22(4/1), 103-108.
Rank, M. G., & Hutchison, W. S. (2000). An analysis of leadership within the social work profession. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(3), 487-202.
Wimpfheimer, S. (2004). Leadership and management competencies defined by practice social work managers: An overview of standards developed by the National Network for Social Work Managers. Administration in Social Work, 28(1), 45-56.

Identifying Terms
Leadership development; leadership skills; social work management; leadership curriculum; vision; empowerment; role modeling; decisiveness; charisma; empowering; using power and authority judiciously; communication; collaboration; coordination; leadership attributes



Definition The learning relationship between a student and an expert in a specific role or domain in which direction, support, and guidance is provided for the purpose of increasing knowledge and experience in particular areas of interest.

References Collins, P.M.  (1994). Does mentorship among social workers make a difference? An empirical investigation of career outcomes.  Social Work, 39(4), 413-419.
Fouché, C., & Lunt, N. (2010). Nested mentoring relationships: Reflections on a practice project for mentoring research capacity amongst social work practitioners. Journal of Social Work10(4), 391-406. doi:
Klasen, N., & Clutterbuck, D. (2002). Implementing mentoring schemes: A practical guide to successful programs. Oxford; Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Pomeroy, E. C., & Steiker, L. H. (2011). Paying it forward: On mentors and mentoring. Social Work56(3), 197-200.
Wilson, P.P., Valentine, D., & Pereira, A.  (2002). Perceptions of new social work faculty about mentoring experiences.  Journal of Social Work Education, 38(2), 

Identifying Terms Symbiotic partnership; supervision; sponsorship; professional socialization; acquisition of new knowledge and growth within an organizational structure; interpersonal helping relationship; andragogy.



Definition The exercise of power or authority in a cruel, unjust, and burdensome manner against a group of people in a mental, physical, social, or economic way.

References Dybicz, P. (2010). Confronting oppression not enhancing functioning: The role of social workers within postmodern practice. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare37(1), 23-47.
Hancock, T. U., Waites, C., & Kledaras, C. G. (2012). Facing structural inequality: Students' orientation to oppression and practice with oppressed groups. Journal of Social Work Education48(1), 5-25.
Miles, L. (2011). LGBT oppression, sexualities and radical social work today. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, University of Bristol. doi:10.1332/policypress/9781847428189.003.0006

Identifying Terms Hardship, persecution, anguish, repression, burdened.


Personal bias

Definition A tendency, preference, or predisposition towards a specific ideology or perspective which can result in prejudged notions, judgments, or actions and behaviors against a particular group or groups of people.

References Hodge, D. (2002). Conceptualizing spirituality in social work: How the metaphysical beliefs of social workers may foster bias toward theistic consumers. Social Thought21(1), 39-61.
Streets, B. F. (2011). How deep is your commitment? Crossing borders via cultural immersion. Issues in Teacher Education20(2), 67-79.
Wahler, E. A. (2012). Identifying and challenging social Work students' biases. Social Work Education31(8), 1058-1070. doi:10.1080/02615479.2011.616585

Identifying Terms Stereotypes, personal values, prejudice, predisposition, bigotry.


Perspective (Clinical)

Definition Perspective means to have a clinical take on situations, problems, and individuals.

References Balgopal, P. R. (1989). Occupational Social Work: An expanded clinical perspective. Social Work, 34(5), 437-442.
Burack-Weiss, A., & Brennan, F. (2008). Gerontological supervision: A social work perspective in case management and direct care. New York, NY, US: Haworth Press.
Deal, K. H. (2007). When the bubble bursts: Clinical perspectives on midlife issues. Psychoanalytic Social Work, 14(1), 101-104.
Drisko, J. W. (2001). How clinical social workers evaluate practice. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 71(3), 419-439. doi: 10.1080/00377310109517638
Hardy-Bougere, M. (2008). Cultural variations of grief and bereavement: A clinical perspective. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 15(2), 66-69.
Meyer, W. S. (2001). Why they don’t come back: A clinical perspective on the no-show client. Clinical Social Work Journal, 29(4), 325-339.

Identifying Terms Clinical viewpoint; clinical outlook


Policy Advocacy

Definition Conscious efforts to change and/or develop legislative, agency, and community  policies for the purpose of improving powerless and oppressed groups’ access to resources and opportunities, in an effort to improve their quality of life and well-being.

References Heidemann, G., Fertig, R., Jansson, B., & Kim, H. (2011). Practicing policy, pursuing change, and promoting social justice: A policy instructional approach. Journal Of Social Work Education,47(1), 37-52.
Jansson, B.S.  (2007). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (5th ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Sherraden, M.S., Slosar, B., & Sherraden, M.  (2002).   Innovation in social policy: Collaborative policy advocacy. Social Work, 47(3), 209-221.
Torres-Gil, F. M. (2007). Policy advocacy for an aging society: Philanthropy and social change. Generations31(2), 35-40.

Identifying Terms Legislative advocacy; reform through litigation; social action; social policy analysis; community organization; social problem analysis; political social work; giving voice to clients.


Policy Analysis

Definition The systematic examination of policy and its development, using specific evaluation criteria to assess its impact on the social problem it seeks to address, uncover inconsistencies among its parts, identify its effect on other areas of social concern, and make an informed judgment as to its effectiveness and appropriateness.

References Chambers, D.E.  (2000). Social policy and social programs: A method for the practical public policy analyst (3rd ed.).  Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Chambers, D. E., & Wedel, K. R. (2009). Social policy and social programs : A method for the practical public policy analyst. Boston, MA, US : Allyn & Bacon/Pearson Ginsberg, L.  (1999). Understanding social problems and social issues (3rd ed.). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
James, T. E., & Jorgensen, P. D. (2009). Policy knowledge, policy formulation, and change: Revisiting a foundational question. Policy Studies Journal37(1), 141-162. doi:10.1111/j.1541-0072.2008.00300.x
O'Connor, M., & Netting, F. (2008). Teaching policy analysis as research: Consideration and extension of options. Journal of Social Work Education44(3), 159-172.

Identifying Terms Value-critical; analytic-descriptive; value-committed; problem definition; cost-benefit analysis; critical analysis of social policy.


Policy Practice

Definition Direct involvement in organizational, legislative, agency, and community setting policy, through the establishment of new policies, the improvement of existing ones, or the defeating of policy initiatives of other people.

References Chapin, R.K.  (2006). Social policy for effective practice.  Boston: McGraw Hill.
Figueira-McDonough, J.  (1993). Policy practice: The neglected side of social work intervention.  Social Work, 38(2), 179-188.
Janson, B.S.  (2007). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (5th ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Reichert, E. (2003). Social work and human rights: A foundation for policy and practice. New York: Columbia University Press.
Saulnier, C. F. (2000). Policy practice training direct service social workers to get involved. Journal of Teaching in Social Work20(1/2), 121-144.
Tice, C. J., & Long, D. D. (2009). International social work policy and practice: Practical insights and perspectives. Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Weiss, I. (2003). Social work students and social change: On the link between views on poverty, social work goals and policy practice. International Journal of Social Welfare, 12(2), 132-141. doi:10.1111/1468-2397.00251.

Identifying Terms Legislative advocacy; reform through litigation; social action; social policy analysis; community organization; social problem analysis; political social work.


Policy Skills

Definition The analytic skills, political skills, interactional skills, and value-clarifying skills needed to effectively set policy agendas, analyze problems, make proposals, and enact, implement, and assess policy.

References Derigne, L. L. (2011). Teaching social policy: Integration of current legislation and media resources. Journal of Teaching In Social Work31(2), 224-231.
Haynes, K. S., & Mickelson, J. S. (2010). Affecting change: Social workers in the political arena. Boston, MA,US : Allyn & Bacon.
Janson, B.S.  (2007). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (5th ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Keller, T.E., Whittaker, J.K., & Burke, T.K.  (2001). Student debates in policy courses: Promoting policy practice skills and knowledge through active learning.  Journal of Social Work Education, 37(2), 343-355.
Sundet, P.A., & Kelly, M. J. (2002). Legislative policy briefs: Practical methodology in teaching policy practice. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 22, 49-60.

Identifying Terms Policy competencies; attributes; policy practitioner; policy in practice; our ethical responsibility; social justice; agenda setting; advocating for vulnerable populations.


Practice Evaluation

Definition This involves assessing interventions and outcomes used by social work practitioners. Interventions refer to the helping strategies or activities we use to assist clients. Outcomes refer to the changes in behaviors or attitudes that are a result of the intervention. Practice evaluation involves the clients as partners with workers and uses targets of desired change to direct the interventions.

References Baer, J. (2001). Evaluating practice: Assessment of the therapeutic process. Journal of Social Work Education37(1), 127-136.
Baker, L. R., Stephens, F. F., & Hitchcock, L. L. (2010). Social work practitioners and practice evaluation: How are we doing?. Journal of Human Behavior In The Social Environment20(8), 963-973.
Bloom, M., Fisher, J., & Orm, J. G. (2005). Evaluating practice: Guidelines for the accountable professional (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.
Royse, D., Thyer, B. A., Padgett, D. K., & Logan, T. K. (2006). Program evaluation: An introduction. (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Brooks Cole.
Thyer, B. A. & Myers, L. (2007). A social worker’s guide to evaluating practice outcomes. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education Press.

Identifying Terms Evaluations of practice; single system design; single subject design; intervention; outcomes; assessing our practice; accountable practice; ethical practice; clients as true partners in the process; practitioner evaluation; practitioner research.


Practice-Informed Research

Definition This phrase is written into Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) competency standard 6.0. It is, therefore, an accreditation requirement that students learn how direct or indirect practice methods, interventions, and/or outcomes could be used to inform additional social work research.

References Eisner, E. W. (1984). Can educational research inform educational practice? The Phi Delta Kappan, 65(7), 447.
Lueger, R. L. (2002). Practice-informed research and research-informed psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(10), 1265-1277.
Thyer, B. A., & Myers, L. L. (2007). A social worker’s guide to evaluating practice outcomes. Alexandria, VA: CSWE Press.

Identifying Terms Contextual research practice, practice methods, clinical research.


Practice Wisdom

Definition A type of knowledge that exceeds objective scientific investigation. To have practice wisdom is to have knowledge of the information, assumptions, ideologies, judgments, values, and morals of the social work profession that have practical use in one’s job responsibilities.

References Chu, W. C. K. & Ming-sum, T. (2008). The nature of practice wisdom in social work revisited. International Social Work, 51(1), 47-54.
Dybicz, P. (2004). An inquiry into practice wisdom. Families in Society, 85(2), 197-203.
Klein, W. C. & Bloom, M. (1995). Practice wisdom. Social Work, 40(6), 799-807.
Regehr, C., Bogo, M., Donovan, K., Anstice, S., & Lim, A. (2012). Identifying student competencies in macro practice: Articulating the practice wisdom of field instructors. Journal of Social Work Education48(2), 307-319.
Thompson, L. J., & West, D. (2013). Professional development in the contemporary educational context: Encouraging practice wisdom. Social Work Education32(1), 118-133. doi:10.1080/02615479.2011.648178
Tsang, N. M. (2008). Kairos and practice wisdom in social work practice. European Journal of Social Work11(2), 131-143.
Zeman, L. D. & Buila, S. (2006). Practice wisdom on custodial parenting with mental illness: A strengths view. Journal of Family Social Work, 10(3), 51-65.

Identifying Terms Practice knowledge; practical wisdom; practical reasoning; common sense.


Practitioner-Researcher Model

Definition An approach involving the use of, and/or generating of empirical knowledge by the practitioner on, or with clients, to render more effective practice decisions and interventions.   

References Antil, T.,  Desrochers, M., Joubert, P., & Bouchard, C. (2003). Implementation of an innovative programme to build partnerships between researchers, decision-makers and practitioners: The experience of the Quebec Social Research Council. Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, 8, 35-43. doi: 10.1258/135581903322405153
Jacobson, W. (1998).  Defining the quality of practitioner research.  Adult Education Quarterly, 48(3), 125-139.
McCrystal, P. (2000).  Developing the social work researcher through a practitioner research training program.  Social Work Education, 19(4), 359-373.
Morrow-Howell, N., Burnette, D., & Chen, L. (2005). Research priorities for gerontological social work: Researcher and practitioner perspectives. Social Work Research29(4), 231-242.
Pritchard, I.A. (2002).  Travelers and trolls: Practitioner research and institutional review boards.  Educational Researcher, 31(3), 3-13.
Shaw, I. (2005).  Practitioner research: Evidence or critique?  British Journal of Social Work, 35(8), 1231-1248.
Shaw, I., & Lunt, N. (2012). Constructing practitioner research. Social Work Research36(3), 197-208. doi:

Identifying Terms
Empirically–based practice; empirical practice; ethical requirement of practice; evidence–based practice; blending the art and science of practice; underpinning practice with the best available data.


Program Evaluation

Definition Using research and evaluation methods to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and pragmatism of a health or human service, to ensure that goals and objectives are being met, and that targeted problems are being addressed.

References Law, B. M. F., & Shek, D. T. L. (2011). Process evaluation of a positive youth development program: Project P.A.T.H.S. Research on Social Work Practice21(5), 539-548.
Mills-Dick, K., Geron, S. M., & Erwin, H. (2007). Evaluation through collaboration: A model program of agency-based training in geriatric social work. Journal of Gerontological Social Work50(1-2), 39-57.
Mulroy, E.A., & Lauber, H.  (2004). A user-friendly approach to program evaluation and effective community interventions for families at-risk of homelessness. Social Work, 49(4), 573-586.
Royse, D., Thyer, B.A., Padgett, D.K., & Logan, T.K.  (2006). Program evaluation: An introduction.  Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Identifying Terms Evaluation research; ethical obligation to funding agencies and clients; needs assessments; qualitative evaluation; quantitative evaluation; summative evaluations; formative and process evaluation; cost-effectiveness; cost/benefit analysis; is the service, program or agency making a difference?


Research-Informed Practice

Definition This phrase is written into Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) Competency standard 6.0. It is therefore, an accreditation requirement thus students learn how qualitative and quantitative research can be used to direct, shape, and inform clinical or indirect practice. 

References Cordingley, P. (2008). Research and evidence-informed practice: Focusing on practice and practitioners. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(1), 37-52.
Nutley, S., Tobias, J., & Walter, I. (2008). The many forms of research-informed practice: A framework for mapping diversity. Cambridge Journal of Education, 38(1), 53-71. 
Reeves, A. (2011). Practice-based research and the development of evidence. Counseling & Psychotherapy Research, 11(2), 87.

Identifying Terms Interactive perspectives,research inspired.



Definition One of social work’s core ethical responsibilities to clients. It refers to the right of clients to identify, define, and clarify their own goals and make decisions for themselves in the helping relationship.

References Bergeron, L. R. (2006). Self-determination and elder abuse: Do we know enough? Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 46(3/4), 81-102.
Ely, G. E., Flaherty, C. C., Aker, L. S., & Noland, T. B. (2012). Social work student attitudes toward the social work perspective on abortion. Journal of Social Work Values And Ethics9(2), 34-45.
Furlong, M. A. (2003). Self-determination and a critical perspective in casework. Qualitative Social Work2(2), 177-196.
Murdach, A. D. (2011). What happened to self-determination?. Social Work56(4), 371-373.
Mo, Y. L., Uken, A., & Sebold, J. (2007). Role of self-determined goals in predicting recidivism in domestic violence offenders. Research on Social Work Practice, 17(1), 30-41,
National Association of Social Workers. (1999). Code of Ethics. Washington, DC: Author.

Identifying Terms
Client autonomy; safe-guarding client choices in decision-making; ethical responsibility; client’s right to choose; helping clients regardless of their capacity to make choices for themselves.



Definition The understanding, knowledge, and awareness of one’s own personality and character and the ability to see oneself as an individual separate from others and the environment.

References Bender, K., Negi, N., & Fowler, D. N. (2010). Exploring the relationship between self-awareness and student commitment and understanding of culturally responsive social work practice. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity In Social Work19(1), 34-53.
Negi, N. J., Bender, K. A., Furman, R., Fowler, D. N., & Prickett, J. C. (2010). Enhancing self-awareness: A practical strategy to train culturally responsive social work students. Advances in Social Work11(2), 223-234.
Yan, M. C., & Wong, Y. R. (2005). Rethinking self-awareness in cultural competence: Toward a dialogic self in cross-cultural social work. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services86(2), 181-188.

Identifying Terms Personal orientation, cognizance, self-consciousness.



Definition The process of exercising introspection of one’s person with a willingness to learn more and better understand one’s self which includes careful thoughts of one’s own behavior, beliefs, and actions. 

References Furman, R., Coyne, A., & Negi, N. J. (2008). An international experience for social work students: Self-reflection through poetry and journal writing exercises. Journal of Teaching in Social Work28(1/2), 71-85.
Kam-shing, Y. (2006). Self-reflection in reflective practice: A note of caution. British Journal of Social Work36(5), 777-788.
Ringel, S. (2003). The reflective self: A path to creativity and intuitive knowledge in social work practice education. Journal of Teaching In Social Work, 23(3/4), 15-28.

Identifying Terms Reflective social work practice, self-examination, self-searching, self-contemplation.


Service Learning

Definition Experiential learning obtained through organized service experiences that meet societal needs through collaboration between the school and community where both students and society mutually benefit.

References Blouin, D. D., & Perry, E. M. (2009). Whom does service learning really serve? Community-based organizations’ perspective on service learning. Teaching Sociology, 37(2), 120. doi:10.2307/25593983
Doel, M., & Best, L. (2008). Experiencing social work: Learning from service users. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Dreuth, L., & Dreuth-Fewell, M. (2002). A model of student learning in community service field placements: Voices from the field. Active Learning in Higher Education, 3(3), 251-264.
Lemieux, C. M., & Allen, P. D. (2007). Service learning in social work education: The state of knowledge, pedagogical practicalities, and practice conundrums. Journal of Social Work Education, 43(2), 309-325.
Stepteau-Watson, D. (2012). Infusing student activism into the college curriculum: A report of a service-learning project to bring awareness to sexual violence. College Student Journal, 46(4), 788-794.
Williams, N.R., & Reeves, P.M. (2004).  MSW students go to burn camp: Exploring social work values through service-learning.  Social Work Education, 23(4), 383-398.
Wells, M. (2006). Teaching notes: Making statistics “real” for social work students. Journal of Social Work Education, 42(2), 397-404.

Identifying Terms
Participatory learning; civic engagement; volunteerism for the community; ‘putting back’ to the community; proactive citizenship.


Social Justice

Definition A more equal distribution of societal rights and resources to all members of society, including allocation of social benefits and opportunities, as well as provision of basic citizen rights and protection of them.

References Chapin, R.K.  (2007). Social policy for effective practice: a strengths approach.  Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Loncres, J.F., & Scanlon, E. (2001).  Social justice and the research curriculum. Journal of Social Work Education, 37(3), 447-463.
McLaughlin, A. M. (2011). Exploring social justice for clinical social work practice. Smith College Studies in Social Work, 81(2), 234-251.
Prior, M. K., & Quinn, A. S. (2012). The relationship between spirituality and social justice advocacy: Attitudes of social work students. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work, 31(1), 172-192.
Wakefield, J. (2001). Social work as the pursuit of minimal distributive justice.  Paper presented at the Kentucky conference, Lexington: KY.

Identifying Terms Advocacy; “voice” to oppressed people; putting a face to a problem; equality; barrier removal; lessening the gap between haves & have-nots; rights; redistributive justice; minimal distributive justice; alleviating oppressive conditions that reinforce marginalization from mainstream society.



Definition Focus of knowledge and skill on a specific social problem, target population, practice setting, or range of direct and indirect practice skill areas—assessment, treatment individual counseling, group work, family work, community development, research, evaluation, education, global social work.

References Briar, S. (1987).  Direct practice: Trends and issues.  In A. Minahan (Ed.-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed., Vol. I, pp.393-396). Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.
Cambridge, P., & Parkes, T. (2006). The tension between mainstream competence and specialization in adult protection: An evaluation of the role of the adult protection co-ordinator. British Journal of Social Work36(2), 299-321. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bch245
Haynes, K. S., & Mickelson, J. S. (2010). Affecting change: Social workers in the political arena. Boston, MA,US : Allyn & Bacon
Healy, K. K., & Meagher, G. G. (2007). Social workers' preparation for child protection: Revisiting the question of specialisation. Australian Social Work,60(3), 321-335.
Hopps, J.G., & Pinderhuges, E.B. (1987).  Profession of social work: Contemporary characteristics.  In A. Minahan (Ed.-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of social work (18th ed., Vol. II, pp.351-366).  Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.
Sheehan, R. (2012). Forensic social work: A distinctive framework for intervention. Social Work in Mental Health10(5), 409-425. doi:10.1080/15332985.2012.678571

Identifying Terms
Functional specificity; narrow problem focus; technical view of target problem; area of expertise; direct and indirect practice areas; micro, mezzo, macro practice skills.


Systems Theory

Definition Systems theory is used to conceptualize the person-in-environment (PIE) framework. Use of systems theory highlights the interaction of multiple systems; how the individual, family, community, social, political, and economic system affect a client on micro, mezzo, and macro levels.

References Kihlström, A. (2012). Luhmann’s system theory in social work: Criticism and reflections. Journal Of Social Work12(4), 287-299. doi:10.1177/1468017310386425
Greenfield, E. A. (2011). Developmental systems theory as a conceptual anchor for generalist curriculum on human behavior and the social environment. Social Work Education30(5), 529-540. doi:10.1080/02615479.2010.503237
Mandin, P. (2007). The contribution of systems and object relation theories to an understanding of the therapeutic relationship in social work practice. Journal of Social Work Practice, 21(2), 149-162.
Payne, M. (2002). The politics of systems theory within social work. Journal of Social Work, 2(3), 269-292.
Potts, M. K. & Hagan, C. B. (2002). Going the distance: Using systems theory to design, implement, and evaluate a distance education program. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(1), 131-145.
Robards, K. J. & Gillespie, D. F. (2000). Revolutionizing the social work curriculum: Adding modeling to the systems paradigm. Journal of Social Work Education, 36(3), 561-572.
Walsh, J. (2005). Theories for direct social work practice. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.

Identifying Terms

Holistic approach to social work; goodness-of-fit between person and environment; analysis of what is problematic about a client’s situation; ecological systems theory.



Definition An explanation of a set of related concepts or phenomena. Theories are normally verified by scientific research and can be used to make predictions.

References Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.
Fogler, S. (2009). Using conflict theory to explore the role of nursing home social workers in home- and community-based service utilization. Journal of Gerontological Social Work52(8), 859-869.
Johnsson, E., & Svensson, K. (2005). Theory in social work--some reflections on understanding and explaining interventions. European Journal of Social Work8(4), 419-433.
Midgley, J., & Conley, A. (Eds.). (2010). Social work and social development: Theories and skills for developmental social work. New York, NY, US: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732326.001.0001
Sharf, R. S. (2008). Theories of psychotherapy and counseling: Concepts and cases (4th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.
Walsh, J. (2005). Theories for direct social work practice. Pacific Grove, CA:Brooks Cole.
Identifying Terms Principle of explanation; a hypothesis that is confirmed through experimental testing.


Uniqueness of Social Work Practice

Definition Social work practice is always client-centered in that is ‘takes the client where s/he is at’ and assists them in facilitating their personal growth and development. It involves using knowledge, values, and skills that focus on the strengths of clients and client systems. Interventions of social work are targeted at the  intersection between the individual and his or her environment.

References Craig, R. W. (2007). A day in the life of a hospital social worker: Presenting our role through the personal narrative. Qualitative Social Work6(4), 431-446.
Clarke, E. J., & Hoffler, E. F. (Ed.s). (2012).Social work matters: The power of linking policy and practice. Washington, DC, US: NASW Press.
DuBois, B., & Miley, K. K. (2005). Social Work: An Empowering Profession. Boston: Pearson.
Hepworth, D. H., Rooney, R. H., Rooney, G. D., Strom-Gottfried, K., & Larsen, J. A. (2006). Direct Social Work Practice; Theory and Skills, Seventh Edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.
Holosko, M. J. (2003). Critiquing the working definition of practice.  Special Guest Editor - Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3).
Holosko, M. J. (2003). The history of the working definition of practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 13(3), 271-284.

Identifying Terms Direct practice; indirect practice; ethical practice; person in environment; generalist practice; problem solving approach; practice skills; micro, mezzo, and macro practice; social work Code of Ethics; client-centered practice.


Vulnerable Populations

Definition Groups of people who, as a result of life conditions and circumstances, are at increased risk for being harmed by specific social, environmental, and/or health problems, making them more susceptible to disempowerment, social injustice, and a lower quality of life.

References Brown, K. (Ed.). (2006). Vulnerable adults and community care. Exeter, England: Learning Matters
Corey, G. (2009). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.
Ely, G., & Dulmus, C. N. (2010). Abortion policy and vulnerable women in the United States: A call for social work policy practice. Journal of Human Behavior In The Social Environment20(5), 658-671. doi:
Sharf, R. S. (2008). Theories of psychotherapy and counseling: Concepts and cases (4th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.
Walsh, J. (2005). Theories for direct social work practice. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks Cole.

Identifying Terms At-risk populations; disenfranchised people; oppressed populations; marginalized people; have-nots of society; the longstanding clients of social work practice.