Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

Clinical Hbse Concentration: A Transactional Model

Academic journal article Journal of Social Work Education

Clinical Hbse Concentration: A Transactional Model

Article excerpt

      This article specifies a transactional model for adequately addressing
   underconcentration on key areas in advanced clinical HBSE courses. The
   author discusses the underconcentration, particularly in social work's
   understanding of the biological and spiritual aspects of human beings. The
   author also distinguishes the transactional model from other reductionist
   or interactionist models of human behavior, and addresses ways to implement
   the model in the classroom.

THE MOST RECENT Curriculum Policy Statement of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE, 1992) mandates foundation-level content in the curriculum area of Human Behavior and the Social Environment (HBSE). Yet, no explicit guidelines exist for HBSE concentration-level courses, other than that they must prepare students for advanced practice (CSWE, 1992). This absence of guidelines challenges social work faculty to develop courses that provide both the advanced theoretical knowledge required for clinical social work and the focused attention required for a concentration-level course. To assist, this article discusses the development and implementation of a model for teaching an advanced human behavior course.

The proposed transactional model attempts to correct the underconcentration that appears to currently exist in MSW curricula. "Underconcentration" means that a course tries to address the multiple aspects of a particular topic without adequate depth and focus. For example, a foundation-level HBSE course would provide content about "human bio-psychosocial development, including theories and knowledge about the range of social systems in which individuals live (families, groups, organizations, institutions, and communities)" (CSWE, 1992, p. 8). A concentration-level course must go beyond in helping students to reach a greater depth of analysis. It should also be focused by providing a balance of biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects. The course should incorporate not only the latest knowledge from the bio-psycho-socio-spiritual dimensions, but also an overarching conceptual framework that can be used to understand any challenge in living that a social worker encounters.

That there is underconcentration and that there is a need for an advanced HBSE teaching model are suggested by the differences and gaps in present practice in social work programs. Data on this are available from a 1996-97 national survey of accredited MSW programs (Farmer, 1998).(1) Of the 42 MSW programs that do offer a discrete advanced HBSE course, 12 (29%) use a conceptual framework of psychopathology and 5 (12%) use an ecological framework, but only 11 (26%) use a bio-psycho-social framework. Thirty-seven (88%) of the schools that have a discrete advanced HBSE course report that they address biological issues, 23 (55%) address spiritual issues, while 40 (95%) address psycho-social issues. Especially problematic is the fact that an advanced HBSE course can be offered that fails to discuss biological or spiritual issues, yet 12% and 45% of survey respondents, respectively, do not address these two dimensions. This can hamper effective social work practice with persons who are homeless, those who have HIV/AIDS, those who have chronic medical and psychiatric conditions, children and adolescents with behavior problems, or those who are addicted to substances, food, or unhealthy life styles.

Survey results also indicate that only 53% of schools offer a discrete advanced HBSE course, suggesting gaps in human behavior content in the remaining 47%. The knowledge explosion of recent years is inconsistent with a decrease in HBSE content, which forms the basis of our knowledge for advanced practice. Some MSW programs do include HBSE content in other concentration-level elective courses. However, these are nonrequired courses, and they tend to be more practice-focused (based on survey results). The survey, then, supports the view that we lack an appropriate model that can integrate the multidimensional content areas of such a course, giving us the required kind of concentration. …

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