SOCW 2061
An Introduction to Social Work Practice

3.0 Credits


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.

Delivery Method

Print or Web-Based.


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Note: SOCW 2061 is a required course in the TRU-OL Social Service Worker Certificate program. This course is equivalent to an Introduction to Social Work practice offered by many Canadian post-secondary institutions and is an entrance requirement for the TRU-OL Social Service Work program.


Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • 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 Outline

SOCW 2061 comprises twelve modules of study. These modules introduce the topic to be discussed and provide learning objectives to guide your learning.

Module 1: Generalist Social Work in Canada

  • Compare and contrast generalist and specialist social work practice.
  • Describe the major social movements that have led to the emergence of generalist social work in Canada.
  • Recognize social work practices in your community.

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

  • Discuss three prevalent political ideologies in Canadian social welfare, and express their perspectives on social problems.
  • Express the importance of social work ideology (values and ethics) in understanding social issues.
  • Apply core social work values in the CASW code of ethics to case situations.
  • Differentiate your personal and professional perspective when assessing a social issue or case situation.

Module 3: Social Work Roles

  • Describe the multi-faceted nature of social work practice, and identify the various roles of generalist social workers.
  • Explain social work roles as they interrelate with ecosystems theory.
  • Identify social work roles in practice.
  • Express your preparedness for generalist roles in multiple social work practice settings.

Module 4: Approaches to Social Work: Theoretical Frameworks

  • Compare the guiding principles of multiple social work theories for working with individuals, groups, and structures.
  • Illustrate understanding of radical and anti-oppressive approaches to social work problems.
  • Demonstrate recognition of multiple approaches in practice.
  • Express your personal theoretical and knowledge base preparing you for social work practice.

Module 5: Beyond Problem Solving to an Empowering Strengths Approach

  • Demonstrate the elements of the problem solving process in social work.
  • Identify strengths and challenges inherent in the problem solving process.
  • Contrast the problem solving process with core values in social work ideology.
  • Analyze the strengths based approach in relation to social work values and ideology.
  • Demonstrate the key elements of a strengths based process in case situations.
  • Consciously practice from either a problem solving or strengths based perspective.
  • Use strengths approaches as a foundation for diversity in practice.

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

  • Identify critical elements in the client-social worker helping relationship.
  • Understand the function of "social control" in mandated social work agencies.
  • Express the core values of social work with both voluntary and involuntary clients.
  • Recognize concepts of power and control in social work practice.

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

  • Describe the historical development of child protection services in Canada.
  • Articulate the connection between legislation and child protection services.
  • Apply a structural and anti-oppressive analysis to child welfare.
  • Identify emerging practices in Aboriginal child welfare practice.
  • Apply theoretical concepts to a case study.

Module 8: Structural and Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice

  • Describe the relationship between private troubles (personal struggles) and public issues (social structure, social difference, social policy).
  • Articulate the many constructs of oppression and how they may impact individual people and professional practice.
  • Define issues related to social location, power, oppression, and privilege.
  • Apply a structural analysis to direct practice.
  • Reflect personally on privilege, oppression, and power .

Module 9: Feminist Theory and Gender Diversity

  • Understand the significance of feminism in social work and the place of feminist practice in generalist social work.
  • Describe three main orientations to feminist practice.
  • Identify key principles for a feminist approach and how they can be integrated into generalist social work practice.
  • Describe and understand the intersection (or multiple forms) of oppression.
  • Identify practices and personal issues relating to gender diversity in the LGBTTQ community.

Module 10: Working with Aboriginal Communities and Indigenous People

  • Describe how an Aboriginal approach incorporates historical factors, particularly the social and psychological effects of colonization.
  • Describe the dominant systemic and structural issues affecting Aboriginal child welfare.
  • Describe the healing and helping process and the helping relationships of an Aboriginal approach.
  • Explain the medicine wheel as one of the models that guides an Aboriginal approach, and describe some of the teachings that flow from it.
  • Explain the concept of mino-pimátisiwin and the values that it emphasizes.
  • Compare an Aboriginal approach with conventional social work.

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

  • Understand how culture provides a lens for social work practice.
  • Describe the terms culture, ethnicity, race, and racism.
  • Analyze anti-racist practice from an emic stance.
  • Understand the differences between the terms cultural sensitivity, cultural competence and cultural attunement.
  • Practice anti-oppressive social work with seniors.

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

  • Articulate key learning concepts related to social work practice.
  • Compare and contrast different theoretical approaches as they interact with the social work code of ethics and the client role.
  • Apply a reflexive approach to social work practice.
  • Analyze theories of problem-solving with anti-oppressive perspectives in practice applications.

Maximum Completion

30 weeks.

Required Text and Materials

Students will receive all course materials including the textbooks in their course package.

Heinonen, T. & Spearman, L. Social work practice: Problem solving and beyond . 3rd Edition. Toronto, ON: Nelson, 2010.
Type: Textbook, ISBN: 978-0-17-650038-2 / 0-17-650038-3

Additional Requirements

Print Students: This course also includes video, some of which will be on the DVD provided with your course package. Other videos will be available online, so you may want to go to your local library or school to view them .

Web students will require a computer and Internet access.

All students are required to obtain or download films on their own and may require a DVD player.

Computer with Internet access is recommended but not required for the print version of this course.

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is by phone if you are taking the print version of the course and through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool if you are taking the web version. Students will receive the necessary contact information when starting the course.


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. However, please note that for this course to apply to the completion of your Social Service Worker Certificate, you must obtain a grade of 60% or higher on the overall course.

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 35%
Total 100%

* mandatory course component