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Competency Areas and Practice Behaviors

The curriculum for the Social Work major is guided by ten core competency areas that reflect standards of the Council on Social Work Education and the Department's mission and goals. The curriculum  prepares students for generalist social work practice through mastery of these core competencies.

Each competency area has performance outcomes - practice behaviors of knowledge, values, and skills needed for generalist practice. Curriculum is designed so that students, upon completion of the major, will be able to demonstrate the integration and application of the competencies in practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.

Competency 1: Identify as a social worker and conduct self accordingly

  • Practice Behaviors
    • Advocate for client access to the services of social work
    • Practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development
    • Attend to professional roles and boundaries
    • Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication
    • Engage in career-long learning
    • Use supervision and consultation

Competency 2: Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.

  • Practice Behaviors
    • Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice
    • Make ethical decisions by applying standards of the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics and, as applicable, of the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles
    • Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts
    • Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions

 Competency 3: Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments

  • Practical Behaviors
    • Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, and practice wisdom
    • Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation
    • Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities and colleagues.

Competency 4: Engage diversity and difference in practice

  • Practical Behaviors:
    • Recognize the extent to which a culture's structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power
    • Gain sufficient self-awareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups
    • Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences
    • View themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants.

 Competency 5: Advance human rights and social and economic justice

  • Practical Behaviors:
    • Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
    • Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice
    • Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice.

 Competency 6:  Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research

  • Practical Behaviors:
    • Use practical experience to inform scientific inquiry
    • Use research evidence to inform practice

 Competency 7: Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment

  • Practical Behaviors:
    • Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation
    • Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment

Competency 8: Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to delivery effective social work services

  • Practical Behaviors:
    • Analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being
    • Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action

 Competency 9: Respond to contexts that shape practice

  • Informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice.
  • Recognize that the context of practice is dynamic and use skill to respond proactively
  • Practical Behaviors:
    • Continuously discover, appraise and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services
    • Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services

Competency 10 (a)-(d): Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities

  • Practical Behaviors: 10(a) Engagement
    • Substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
    • Use empathy and other interpersonal skills
    • Develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes
  • Practice Behaviors 10(b)Assessment
    • Collect, organize, and interpret client data
    • Assess client strengths and limitations
    • Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives
    • Select appropriate intervention strategies
  • Practice Behaviors: 10(c) Intervention
    • Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals
    • Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities
    • Help clients resolve problems
    • Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients
    • Facilitate transitions and endings
  • Practice Behaviors: 10(d) Evaluation
    • Critically analyze, monitor and evaluate interventions