View Full Version : Clinical MSW from macro-focused school -- what next?
01-23-2008, 08:10 PM
I am currently attending Social Work graduate school at a college that has a more macro-focused lean than clinical. The school claims to be "advanced generalist" and even has a concentration in Health/Mental Health, but definitely pushes a lot more policy discussion rather than focusing on building clinical skills. Granted, I'm in the foundation year and it's going to be more general, but overall I have 3 social policy courses, 2 of my 4 practice courses are entirely Macro, and the field work requires a Macro project. (There are two Human Behavior in Social Environment courses, 3 research courses, and a course on diversity). Even the electives focus a great deal on policy, and we only get 3 of those anyhow.
While I'm not doggin policy (I understand that it's important), I'm concerned about the skills + knowledge I will need as a clinician when I am done and whether or not this program will prepare me to do the kind of work I am interested in doing. Any advice for a student in my situation? I am learning a lot in my field placement (group therapy in a partial hospital program for dual-diagnosis adults) and I hope to continue next year with individual work, but I just feel like I'm lacking guidance/instruction, etc. We've just brushed over theories in my practice and HBSE courses.
I think I have read that some people recommend theoretical institutions but the only kind I have heard of in my area are primarily psychoanalytical, and I'm interested in doing CBT and trauma work.
Wise words are welcome... :D
01-30-2008, 07:39 PM
OK, so I had a good head-to-head with my advisor today regarding electives and courses that are more clinical in nature. And my beef re: advanced generalist vs Clinical and Macro tracks at the school.
She said that I shouldn't try to get ALL my knowledge in during the two years of graduate school, that I'm going to be out there in the field for a long time and that there are PLENTY of CEUs that I'll need to do anyway and I can focus them towards something specific about which I'm interested in the clinical realm.
I think that sort of answered my question :laugh:
02-06-2008, 09:20 AM
Sounds like your advisor is setting you on the right track. However, while you still have the luxury of being in school and having easy access to supervision, I'd strongly recommend seeking out a field placement for your second year which is more clinical in nature (sounds like you have a good start now) and being up front with that clinical supervisor about what you're seeking. They may be able to help tailor your practicum to include relevant clinical readings, allow opportunity to do more family/individual/group work, and maybe even send you to some trainings that will help you reach your goal.
Also, if the program schedule allows for any electives in your second year, try to find clinically-related ones. And if they're really flexible and would accept electives from an affiliated counseling or psychology program, try to go back and get at least one practice theory class to strengthen your knowledge in that realm.
02-10-2008, 07:49 PM
Thanks!! I really love getting your input on SW matters!! :D
Yes, I am actually seeking a placement for next year that will include individual outpatients (right now I'm trying for the local VA Mental Health Outpatient program **fingers crossed!!**).
I'm certainly learning a lot by doing at my current placement. I do also check in individually with clients and then review process recordings with my supervisor. Part of the issue is that she treats me like a staff member so I sometimes don't have the time to be an intern... But I currently have 4 clients assigned to me and I could do more by pulling them out of group (and asserting my need to do so) and checking in one-on-one and then do a PR on that for supervision. I can also brush up on the relevant readings in Practice 1 (which were more about assessment than treatment, to be honest) in my, ya know, spare time to read... ;) I also do have a basic psychotherapy and counseling text that I've started reading on my own which I picked up from a local medical school bookstore's section on psychiatry. :eek:
In terms of electives, our SW department SORELY lacks them, especially clinical ones, and it's a BIG pain to transfer a course from another department, and they only let you do that with one (out of three total electives) anyway. :mad: So what I'm planning to do is take Counseling Theory & Practice 1 AND 2 from the graduate Counseling Psychology program at the college, as well as a psychopathology course this summer and a trauma course in the Spring. :idea: We also get a HBSE specific to mental health in our concentration year and Practice III is supposed to be more focused on treatment. There also may be training at my placement, esp if I get into someplace like the VA :) My friend (who goes to BC) has a placement at Children's Hospital and goes to seminars weekly.
02-26-2008, 10:36 PM
I attended an entirely clinical (CBT, Behavioral, Motivational Interviewing, & Brief/Solution Focused/Strengths Based) MSW program.
I would recommend (to anyone, always, for the rest of my life) to try and secure an internship on an inpatient psychiatric unit.
The experience was absolutely invaluable to me. I finished leaps and bounds above other members of my cohort concerning clinical skills... especially diagnostics.
You get to see illness in multiple stages... and more than that... how psychopharm treatment will change the symptoms of these illnesses....
02-28-2008, 10:33 PM
I am actually planning to work as a "mental health counselor" (in this case, like a residential counselor) on the Inpatient unit this summer. It is at the same hospital where I am currently doing my placement so I know the staff, doctors, etc fairly well. I also have experience working in residential so I'll know *some* of what to expect. My main motivation for doing this particular work is to get that acute experience.
In other news... I got the VA internship for next year! It's in the Mental Health clinic at this particular VA, and I'll be learning how to conduct individual psychotherapy using a psychodynamic/object relations orientation. Both the residential and the partial where I'm at now use CBT, so it'll be a big change, but I'm looking forward to learning more!