BA Social Work Program Competencies and Practice Behaviors
Competency 1 — Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly.
Social workers serve as representatives of the profession, its mission, and its core values. They know the profession's history. Social workers commit themselves to the profession's enhancement and to their own professional conduct and growth.
Advocate for client access to needed resources
Practice self-reflection to make changes that assure continual professional development
Attend to professional roles, responsibilities, relationships, and boundaries
Demonstrate respect for clients and colleagues through appropriate professional behavior, appearance, and communication
Identify resources for engaging in career-long learning
Use supervision and consultation
Competency 2 — Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice.
Social workers have an obligation to conduct themselves ethically and to engage in ethical decisionmaking. Social workers are knowledgeable about the value base of the profession, its ethical standards, and relevant law.
Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice
Make ethical decisions by applying standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, IFSW/IASSW ethical principles, and/or other social work ethical codes
Recognize and manage ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts
Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions
Competency 3 — Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments.
Social workers are knowledgeable about the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and reasoned discernment. They use critical thinking augmented by creativity and curiosity. Critical thinking also requires the synthesis and communication of relevant information.
Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including research-based knowledge, practice wisdom, and clients' lived experience
Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation
Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues
Competency 4 — Engage diversity and difference in practice.
Social workers understand how diversity characterizes and shapes the human experience and is critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors including age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. Social workers appreciate that, as a consequence of difference, a person's life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, and alienation as well as privilege, power, and acclaim.
Recognize the extent to which a culture's structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power
Gain self-awareness to minimize the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups
Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference and intersectionality in shaping life experiences
View themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as resources for information
Competency 5 — Advance human rights and social and economic justice.
Each person, regardless of position in society, has basic human rights, such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers recognize the global interconnections of oppression and are knowledgeable about theories of justice and strategies to promote human and civil rights. Social work incorporates social justice practices in organizations, institutions, and society to ensure that these basic human rights are distributed equitably and without prejudice.
Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination
Advocate for human rights and social, environmental, and economic justice
Engage in practices that advance social, environmental, and economic justice
Competency 6 — Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research.
Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery. Social workers comprehend quantitative and qualitative research and understand scientific and ethical approaches to building knowledge.
Use practice experiences to inform scientific inquiry
Use research evidence to inform practice
Competency 7 — Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment.
Social workers are knowledgeable about human behavior across the life course; the range of social systems in which people live; and the ways social systems promote or deter people in maintaining or achieving health and well-being. Social workers apply theories and knowledge from the liberal arts to understand biological, social, cultural, psychological, and spiritual development.
Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of assessment, intervention, and evaluation
Critique and apply knowledge to understand persons and environments
Competency 8 — Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services.
Social work practitioners understand that policy affects service delivery, and they actively engage in policy practice. Social workers know the history and current structures of social policies and services; the role of policy in service delivery; and the role of practice in policy development.
Analyze, formulate, and advocate for polices that advance social well-being, human rights and social, environmental, and economic justice
Collaborate with clients and colleagues for effective policy action
Competency 9 — Respond to contexts that shape practice.
Social workers are informed, resourceful, and proactive in responding to evolving organizational, community, and societal contexts at all levels of practice. Social workers recognize that the context of practice is dynamic, and use knowledge and skill to respond proactively.
Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, social movements, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services
Provide leadership in promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice to improve the quality of social services
Competency 10(a)–(d) — Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities.
Professional practice involves the dynamic and interactive processes of engagement, assessment,
intervention, and evaluation at multiple levels. Social workers have the knowledge and skills to practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Practice knowledge includes identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidence-based interventions designed to achieve client goals; using research and technological advances; evaluating program outcomes and practice effectiveness; developing, analyzing, advocating, and providing leadership for policies and services; and promoting social and economic justice.
Competency 10(a) — Engagement
Substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
Use empathy and other interpersonal skills
Develop a mutually agreed-on focus of work and desired outcomes
Competency 10(b) — Assessment
Collect, organize, and interpret pertinent information at multiple system levels
Assess client strengths and challenges
Develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives
Select appropriate intervention strategies with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities
Competency 10(c) — Intervention
Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals while attending to professional values and ethics
Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities
Partner with clients in the process of finding solutions
Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients from empowerment perspectives
Facilitate transitions and endings
Competency 10(d) — Evaluation
Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions in partnership with clients