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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

SOCW 2061: An Introduction to Social Work Practice

This course introduces students to social work practice through an exploration of the history, philosophical foundation, and theoretical perspectives of the profession of social work. This includes a review of the relevant codes of ethics and practice standards that guide practitioners and an overview of the roles in which social workers become involved. This course also examines the social structures influencing people's lives and how various sources and forms of oppression and marginalization impact the lives of people in Canadian society.

Learning outcomes

  • Describe the historical roots and social forces that have shaped generalist social work practice in Canada.
  • Describe the ideological influences that shape social work practice Describe the nature of social work including the underlying assumptions, values, and ethics that guide the profession.
  • Describe social work from an ecosystems perspective.
  • Explore a variety of professional roles that generalist social workers practice.
  • Describe the evolving nature of theories and practice approaches that inform social work practice.
  • Examine and contrast the problem-solving approach with a strengths-based perspective.
  • Identify components of the client-social worker helping relationship with voluntary and involuntary clients.
  • Examine the development and practice of social work in child protection.
  • Analyze the social structures that influence people's lives and how various sources and forms of oppression and marginalization impact the lives of people in Canadian Society.
  • Understand the significance of feminism in social work and the place of feminism in general social work practice.
  • Identify oppressions and healing of Aboriginal people and implications for social work practice with Aboriginal peoples.
  • Examine culturally safe social work practice elements when working with diversities such as race, age, and ability.

Course topics

Module 1: Generalist Social Work in Canada

Module 2: The Ideological Foundations and Professional Values of Social Work

Module 3: Social Work Roles

Module 4: Approaches to Social Work: Theoretical Frameworks

Module 5: Beyond Problem Solving to an Empowering Strengths Approach

Module 6: Helping Relationships in Social Work - Voluntary and Involuntary

Module 7: Connecting Practice to Policy: Child Protection Social Work

Module 8: Structural and Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice

Module 9: Feminist Theory and Gender Diversity

Module 10: Working with Aboriginal Communities and Indigenous People

Module 11: Social Work and Practice with Diversity - Race, Age, and Ability

Module 12: Putting it all together - Being a Reflexive Practitioner

Required text and materials

Students require the following e-textbook, which can be purchased directly from the TRU bookstore site

  1. Heinonen, T. & Spearman, L. (2010). Social Work Practice: Problem Solving and Beyond (3rd ed.). Toronto, ON: Nelson.
    Type: E-Textbook. ISBN: 9781774126196

Note: After purchasing the access code there will be further instructions provided in Moodle.

Audiovisual Materials:

  1. Thompson Rivers University, Open Learning SOCW 2061 USB. Type: USB

Note: USB is included only in the print version of the course; in the web version, the clips of the audio and video materials are provided online.


To successfully complete this course, you must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course and 50% or higher on the mandatory final project.

The final grade for the course is determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 - Critical Reflection: Modules 1 - 4 15%
Assignment 2 - Personal Awareness and Preparedness 20%
Assignment 3 - Critical Reflection: Modules 5 - 8 15%
Assignment 4 - Critical Reflection: Modules 9 - 12 15%
Final Project - Case Study: Donna's Story (mandatory) 35%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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