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Course supplement

This Course Supplement contains changes and additions to the main course offerings as well as courses limited to third-summer students. Note: bracketed courses are not offered in 2014.

New Courses

PRAC 310. Women's Reproductive Issues in Health and Mental Health
Mental health depends on a complex interaction between genetic and psychosocial factors. In women, an added layer of complexity arises from changes in reproductive functioning (menstrual cycle, pregnancy, miscarriage, infertility, postpartum, perimenopause). Not only are women who present with psychiatric symptoms during reproductive periods more sensitive to hormonal changes, but these reproductive periods can also cause psychological stress. For instance, role transitions precipitated by pregnancy and menopause can challenge a woman’s relationships and sense of identity. Likewise, the physical and sexual changes occurring during reproductive periods can trigger issues pertaining to body image or sexual abuse. In this course, case material will be used to illustrate the kinds of mental health issues related to reproductive functioning that present in women in psychotherapy. We will use a biopsychosocial approach to understand how and why reproductive functioning contributes to the development of these mental health issues. Based on this understanding, we will discuss specific techniques that can be used in psychotherapy sessions to help women facing these challenges. Broudy

PRAC 312. Social Work Practice with Older Adults
Term 1
The anticipated surge in the size and cultural diversity of the U.S. population of older adults has generated intensive examination by the mental health and social service professions about our preparedness for responding to these changes. This course will focus on the application of a range of theories and models of practice to support clinical work with older adults, including: narrative gerontology, psychodynamic developmental theories, and cognitive behavioral theory. We will also include some attention to existentialist, Jungian and mindfulness practices. We will address significant issues in the social and cultural contexts of aging, including: the dynamics of ageism in different cultural contexts, the effects of historical and generational events on different cohorts, and the social dynamics of potential intergenerational collaboration and conflict. The evolution of such contested issues as:  the distribution of  economic resources, use of computer technology, increased attention to community-building efforts, and greater demand for integrative and preventive health care will have profound effects on the well-being of our older adult population. In this course, we will look at specific examples from student cases, films, autobiographies, and expert informants to consider how clinical models and appreciation of the sociocultural context can be integrated to respond to the mental health needs of this dramatically increasing population. Elective course second or third summer. Two quarter-hours - Johnston.

PRAC 314. Dialogic and Narrative Theory and Practice
Term 2

Over the past fifteen years, the field of family therapy has witnessed the emergence of new frameworks for practice based on reflection and narrative, instead of strategy and intervention. This course will examine these models, beginning with their significant debts to feminism and postmodernism. These intellectual movements challenged traditional cybernetic and systems models and provided the seeds for new forms of therapy. We will focus on Andersen's reflecting team, the Finnish dialogic-systems model, the narrative therapies invented by White and Epston, and the Gender and Violence Project at the Ackerman Institute. Within this overview, we will look specifically at gender, class, ethnicity, and sexual orientation as such lenses shape our descriptions of families and practice of therapy. Social justice issues and multiculturalism will be important themes. Specific clinical approaches to violence and abuse and child-focused problems will be explored. Elective course second or third summer. Two quarter-hours - Olson.

[PRAC 323. Aging in America: Clinical Social Work Practice with Older Adults Within the Context of Family and Society]
This course will address both clinical practice and social policy issues related to older adults in America. We will analyze and develop policy structures for addressing the clinical issues associated with aging as individuals, families and communities experience it across gender, race and class. Policy here will mean the mechanisms of action to address particular problems associated with growing older in American ranging from clinical issues such as depression and dementia to broader problems of social stability associated with retirement. We will focus on the clinical concerns facing older adult, their families and caregivers, and the policies and the development of programs that enhance or constrain the attainment and preservation of their well being. Two quarter-hours.

[PRAC 328. Clinical Approaches to Addiction: How to Motivate, Reduce Harm and (Eventually) Sober Up Your Clients]
Working with clients with addiction problems can be an endless source of uncertainty and frustration-but also of exhilaration, insight and hope. Addicted persons are often confronting multiple, complex problems, from the denial of the addiction itself, to legacies of early trauma and abuse, to histories of broken relationships with parents, spouses, and children. Making matters more confusing, the treatment field is too often splintered into different approaches, each with its own competing claims. This course presents an integrative approach that builds a much-needed bridge between family therapy, psychodynamic treatment, narrative and postmodern approaches,  trauma theory and addictions counseling. Innovative, flexible ways to help clients form new understandings of what has happened in their lives, explore their relationships to drugs and alcohol, and develop new stories to guide and nourish their recovery are demonstrated. Topics covered include: The role of AA and Al-Anon in providing meaning and support, treating addicted survivors of trauma and abuse, applications to adolescent and child therapy, problems that surface in family interventions and consultation, dealing with overlapping substance abuse and eating disorders, working with “non-tissue based addictions (e.g, gambling, sex, the internet, etc.), and issues facing care givers who are themselves in recovery. Special attention is given to race, gender, class, sexual orientation and other issues of culture and power that surface in the treatment of diverse individuals. Two quarter-hours.

[PRAC 329. Work with Youth and Families: Evidence-Based Multitheoretical Approaches]
This course is designed to prepare direct practice clinicians for work with children and families, using models derived from varying theoretical  perspectives (e.g., psychodynamic/relationship-based, cognitive-behavioral, narrative, bodywork and mindfulness modalities) -- all of which have solid evidence bases for their effectiveness. The course will involve students in lecture/powerpoint or video overviews of each model, and active in-class exercises where the instructor will present actual cases for assessment, case formulation, treatment planning, development and practice of appropriate interventions, and posttreatment evaluation. Although trauma as one presenting problem will be covered, the most typical presenting problems encountered by clinicians at each age level -- and examples of methods currently considered among the most effective for treating them--will also be included. Two quarter-hours.

[HBSE 338. The Role of Emotion in Therapeutic Action]
The purpose of this course is to integrate findings from current research in affective neuroscience, attachment theory, emotion theory, child development theory, trauma studies, and somatic focusing to explore how experiencing and processing emotion in the therapeutic dyad promotes healing and growth.   A core principal of this course is founded in current neuroscience research that demonstrates the brain’s capacity to change across the life cycle – that is, the brain’s plasticity. We will explore how the therapeutic relationship becomes the matrix from which these internal neural and physiological resources, hard wired in the mind and body, can be accessed and dyadically regulated to potentiate change and transformation.  The fundamental role of the attuned other in the ongoing rhythm of dyadic coordination, spontaneous rupture and repair will be made explicit through videotaped vignettes of actual therapy sessions.  We will discuss and delineate the differences between healing affect and pathogenic affect. We will explore the theoretical concepts of Fosha, Siegel, & Solomon (The Healing Power of Emotion, 2009), among others, that inform  the specifics of clinical stance, technique and intervention. Classroom methods will include lecture, small group discussion, videotapes and case presentation. Two quarter-hours.

HBSE 339. Bearing Witness: Making Sense of Trauma and Traumatic Stress Responses
Term 2
The objective of this course is to develop in students a fluency of knowledge around trauma theory which will enable them to apply themselves effectively in clinical contexts. Building on the premise that theory is an essential tool in assessment, diagnosis and intervention, a significant proportion of the course will be dedicated to building a foundation of knowledge around the seminal writings on trauma, both historical and contemporary. A core objective of the course is to identify trauma as being central to multiple areas of psychic functioning, and to link it to other bodies of knowledge such as attachment and personality theory as well as to psychoanalytic neurobiology. The course will apply theory to practice in looking through a biopsychosocial lens at the assessment and diagnosis of traumatized individuals. The notion of therapist as witness to an unfolding narrative will provide the fabric to exploring the range of interventions available. These models of intervention will be interrogated, they will be located in the relevant body of theory, and their mechanisms of action will be explored. Finally, the course will visit the concept of trauma as a crisis of meaning, and at the potential for transformation, forgiveness and healing once trauma has been re-membered, repeated and worked through. Teaching methods will include lecture, small group discussions, class presentations and media input. Elective course second or third summer. Two quarter-hours - Coco.

[SWPS 374. Social Policy Challenges to Clinical Social Work and What to do about Them]
The purpose of this course is to understand and recognize the impact of social welfare policies on clinical social work practice. Students will learn how to analyze the ways in which social welfare policy is formulated and shaped and to learn the skills needed to influence policies and how they are implemented. The course will include identification and analysis of issues, policies, and programs that particularly have an impact on vulnerable client systems, who clinical social workers are likely to be working with. It is also designed to expand practice knowledge of micro, mezzo and macro interventions with vulnerable client populations for clinical social workers so that direct practice also involves policy advocacy. Elective course second or third summer. Two quarter-hours – R. Robinson.

[SWPS 376. International Human Rights and Social Work Practice]
It is evident that over time states, religions, super powers, colonial regimes, dictatorial rules and economic and societal injustice have violated the Human Rights of many. It was not that long ago that United Nations asserted that “Human Rights are inherent to all human beings” and with this recognition the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was passed in 1948. However, the world has and continues to violate Human Rights of many. Ironically, nations particularly the powerful ones both promote and also violate human rights. Poverty is increasing and food shortages are rampant. Education and health care are denied to many and women and children bear the brunt of HIV/AIDS. Wars are waged, prisoners tortured, held without trails and death penalty is widely used. Intra and Inter-state conflicts render many as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or as refugees and asylum seekers and those who end up in the West are despised. In addition, there is a widespread social injustice against women who are forced to prostitute, children who are used as child soldiers and LGBT community and low caste people are detested. Religious intolerance is rife in the world. This increases the challenges of ensuring the rights of those marginalized. This course will critically examine the past and current practices of Human Rights in the world. We will review several International Conventions, UDHR, the role of United Nations and the contemporary challenges in the promotion of Human Rights. The course will develop a frame work comprised of social justice and cultural lenses to examine and deepen our understanding of the practices of Human Rights in the world. The course plans to strengthen the knowledge base on International Human Rights and provides opportunities to build strategies, skills and will enable Social Work practitioners to promote Human Rights in these demanding times. Elective course second and third summer. Two quarter-hours.

PRHB 392. DBT Theory and Practice
Term 2
This course provides an introduction to dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). The empirical basis of the treatment will be presented, and students will develop knowledge and skills in the following areas: the biosocial theory of borderline personality disorder; dialectical theory; individual DBT and its use of validation, contingency management, diary cards, and behavioral analyses; group DBT and the four DBT skills modules (core mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness); and the roles of telephone coaching and the DBT consultation team. Instruction modalities will include lecture, class discussion and exercises, and video-recorded sessions. Elective course second or third summer. Two quarter-hours - Hightower.

[HBSE 535. Cross Cultural Issues in Attachment]
This course considers how during the first year of life babies gain relational experience with their caregivers that becomes a frame that guides them further in their lives. This frame, named as attachment style, reflects the ability of the caregiver to become a secure base to the child from which she/he can explore the world. The attachment style can facilitate or hinder the development of the individual. Once formed it is resistant to change unless challenged. How to challenge it is one of the focuses of the course.

To what extent and how cultures shape the early relationships between the parent and the infant is the second issue that will be considered during the course. Addressing this question will prepare students to understand the meaning that a cultural context adds to the earliest relationships.

Both focuses of the course will help students create a secure therapeutic environment for exploring with the client her/his relational styles and expectations for security. Transference and counter transference will be discussed in relation to attachment needs that are often culturally shaped. The concept of mentalization will be presented and discussed.

In addition, the course will present recent findings in neurobiology that have demonstrated how long-term separation and absence of attachment relationships in infancy can affect the development of the brain. Therapeutic interventions in this area will be discussed and developed in the context of de-institutionalization of children in Eastern Europe. Elective course second and third summer. Two quarter-hours.

PRAC 549. Clinical Applications of Intersubjective Theory
Term 2
In this class, students will bring in clinical work from their second year placements, particularly their major case studies, and reformulate the cases through the lens of intersubjective theory. Theories and their clinical implications developed by Stephen Mitchell, Jessica Benjamin, Jody Davies, Philip Bromberg and Lew Aron will provide the conceptual framework for the discussions. We will pay careful attention to social factors alive in the cases, as well as transference/countertransference dynamics. We will explore notions of intersubjectivity and mutual influence to think through students' work with their clients. Class discussion will include line by line examination of the process of interaction and make extensive use of role plays to hone clinical understanding. Elective course. Two quarter-hours. Segal

Courses Open to Third-Summer Students Only

Senior Integrative Seminars (533) and Senior Clinical Seminars (503) serve a function of helping third-summer M.S.W. students to synthesize academic and experiential learning drawn from their academic coursework, thesis, community and anti-racism projects as well as their internship settings. Critical reflective thinking is encouraged as students review and critique clinical social work theory, policy, research and practice models. These seminars also serve the function of launching students into their professional careers. Although all seminars aim to fulfill these overarching goals, each one also maintains a unique focus that is described in the individual course description. While the integrative seminars maintain a more distinct integrative focus, the senior clinical seminars direct a more specialized focus to particular content.

Per the Sequence Chairs at their meeting of Oct. 16, 2008, each student may enroll in only one section of 533, Senior Integrative Seminar.

Though not required, our expectation is that many third-summer M.S.W. students will be able to participate in one of these seminars:

[PRAC 503. Senior Clinical Seminar: Populations at Risk]

HBSE 533-01. Senior Integrative Seminar: Dismantling Institutional Racism: The Challenge for Social Workers
Term 1

This course will serve as a Senior Integrative Seminar and will combine aspects of policy, HBSE, practice and research. It is designed for those students who have a strong interest in combating institutional racism and a commitment to engagement in anti-racism efforts.  Students will consider the various forms and types of institutional racism and its presence in not only obvious circumstances, but also those situations where it is least expected. Students will also develop clear definitions of racism and oppression, with attention to the interactions that perpetrate their presence in our communities. The profession’s commitment to social justice and the roles that social workers have in the eradication of racism will be explored. The course uses research, theory, and student’s personal and professional experiences to analyze the manifestations of institutional racism. These efforts can help prepare students to engage in anti-racism activities as clinical practitioners, policy practitioners, teachers, scholars, activists and citizens. Elective course in third summer only; also fulfills O or S elective requirement. Two quarter-hours – Gannon and Funk.

HBSE 533-01. Senior Integrative Seminar: Advanced Concepts in Comparative Psychodynamic Theory
Term 2

This course will assist students in reflecting upon their clinical practice and in integrating the many theories they have studied with their evolving professional selves. A relational perspective will be offered as a framework for the discussion of clinical issues. Attention will be focused on clinical and ethical dilemmas which emerge in the therapeutic process. These dilemmas may include: transference and countertransference issues; questions pertaining to self-disclosure and boundaries; supervisory dilemmas; the differential use of self in working with various client populations and with issues of difference; and the role of managed care in practice.  The goals of the course are: (1) to help students conceptualize how the therapeutic process unfolds and to appreciate why they intervene in particular ways; (2) to synthesize theory into a coherent social work approach that attends to internal and external factors and allows for the most creative uses of the self; (3) to develop the courage and patience to "not know" while attending to the complexities inherent in the therapeutic dialogue; and (4) to develop and trust their own voices as social workers as they prepare to enter the field. Students will be encouraged to discuss their most perplexing clinical and ethical dilemmas from their placements, and to grapple with their unanswered theoretical questions. The course will also provide an opportunity for students to gain a sense of closure as they complete their studies at Smith. Elective course in third summer only. Two quarter-hours – Novack.

HBSE 533-02. Senior Integrative Seminar: Advanced Concepts in Comparative Psychodynamic Theory
Term 2
By the last semester of the third summer, the theories of individual development., first introduced in 130, can seem like a dim memory. In the intervening years students have learned many other lenses and methodologies (trauma theory, relational theory, CBT, etc). This seminar offers students an opportunity to calmly and systematically revisit drive, ego, object, self as they apply to clinical practice with a special emphasis on self psychology, which often gets short shrift due to the pressure of limited time. This senior seminar is geared either toward those who want to learn more in depth about the application of psychodynamic theories to advanced practice. It offers students an opportunity to think through their agency based practice, including integrating cognitive behavioral methods with the four psychologies. Therefore The PLUS refers to the opportunity for the students and the professor to ponder how the four psychologies and cognitive behavioral theory can be used together. In this course, cases will be presented that were treated from a purely psychodynamic or CBT point of view. The class will then consider what might have been gained or lost by one frame of reference or the other in order to think through how to use these theories as both/and other than either or. Thus we will think together about how the four psychologies and CBT can enhance each other. Elective course in third summer only. Two quarter-hours - Novack.

Descriptions for the following additional electives limited to third-summer students may be found on the main course offerings page:

HBSE 514-01. Knowing, Not Knowing, and Muddling Through
Term 2

HBSE 540-01. Death and Bereavement over the Life Cycle
Term 1

PRSW 595-01. Advanced Treatment with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender Clients
Term 2


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Updated 10/24/13