The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) refers to practicum education as the “signature pedagogy” of the Master of Social Work (MSW) curriculum. Simmons offers rich practicum education experiences through classroom learning and hands-on clinical training in the community. Throughout two academic years in field, students will have the opportunity to integrate classroom learning into clinical practice. Advanced Standing students (those who enter the MSW program with a BSW) will complete 3 semesters in field. The Simmons practicum education model allows students to apply the theoretical concepts, principles, values, and ethics they learn in the classroom to a community practice setting under the supervision of a professional social worker. Through field experiences, students learn to apply clinical skills with clients and become familiar with the many roles social workers play in agencies and communities.
The Practicum Education Experience
Students in the traditional MSW program will complete both a generalist and specialized practicum experience. Advanced Standing students (having completed a BSW) complete three semesters of practicum education.
Generalist Practicum Experience
This first practicum experience provides a foundation in generalist social work practice over the course of two semesters. The generalist experience will prepare students with:
- An introduction to the ethical standards and values that define the social work profession
- Exposure to the roles of social workers: clinician, advocate, and case manager to name a few
- The ability to engage and assess individuals, families, groups, and communities
- Training, support, and feedback from experienced social work clinicians
- Skills in building therapeutic relationships with clients and integrating clinical practices into their work
Specialized Practicum Experience
The specialized practicum placement will enable students to build on their generalist knowledge and hone assessment and intervention skills. This second clinical experience takes place over the course of two semesters and provides students with:
- Increased clinical opportunities to practice engaging, assessing, intervening, and evaluating diverse client groups
- Regular practice applying theoretical concepts learned in weekly live classes to client interactions Increased exposure to evidence-informed practices
- Further practice applying clinical skills while benefiting from the support and feedback of a skilled practicum instructor
- The knowledge and confidence to begin practicing as professional social workers
In each practicum placement, students work with qualified practicum instructors who provide individual clinical supervision. Instructors share their knowledge and expertise, guiding students as they build on their academic foundation. Under supervision, students demonstrate their skills in a range of roles:
- Direct clinical practice
- Accessing, coordinating, and developing services
- Formulating bio-psycho-social assessments and treatment plans
- Partnering with clients in making plans for intervention
- Collaborating with staff and community providers
- Case management and advocacy
While in the field, students receive additional support from a practicum liaison/advisor, who monitors their process, provides mentorship for professional development, and works with agencies to ensure the practice experience fulfills Simmons’ educational objectives.