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Master of Social Work Program

Direct Practice in Aging

The Direct Practice in Aging specialty provides advanced social work students the opportunity to work at the micro and macro level to develop and implement effective interventions, programs, and policies specific to the unique needs of older adults and their family caregivers. They partner with practitioners and community agencies to improve the lives of older adults by evaluating, selecting, and implementing appropriate assessment, intervention, and evaluation tools for use with diverse older clients while using interpersonal skills to engage older clients in collaborative, therapeutic relationships.

UTA in Depth: Aging & Alzheimer's Video

Noelle Fields and Ling Xu, assistant professors in UTA's School of Social Work, partnered with the non-profit community organization The Senior Source in Dallas to develop an innovative training program for Alzheimer's caregivers. For more information:

The Direct Practice in Aging specialty is offered in a full-time online cohort format.

Semester/Year Direct Practice - Specialty in Aging
Fall Advanced Micro Practice SOCW 5311
(Formerly 6325)
Builds on the generalist perspective and the basic familiarity with social work processes (such as problem identification, assessment, contracting, plan implementation, and outcome evaluation) in the context of (1) existing psychosocial intervention modalities, and (2) the particular client characteristics that lend themselves to specific change modalities. Required of all Direct Practice students. Prerequisite: SOCW 5304, SOCW 5310, and SOCW 5551.
  Direct Practice with Aging SOCW 5332
(Formerly 6318)
Course presents an overview of current issues in the care, treatment, and delivery of social services to the aging. Students learn practice procedures designed to equip them with the skills needed for effective social work practice and review major theories on aging. Co-requisite: SOCW 5311.
  Research and Evaluation Methods II SOCW 5313
(Formerly 6324)
Advanced course in the application of research principles and techniques. Topics include regression and statistical control, analysis of variance, questionnaire construction, evaluation research, and computerized tabulation and analysis of data. Mini-projects require the student to apply these techniques in the context of social work practice. Required of all students.
Additional Description: Building on previous courses, particularly Research I, in this course an evidence informed approach to social work practice and the delivery of human service program is emphasized. In this course quantitative and qualitative research methods and commonly used statistical procedures and approaches are applied to the evaluation of social work practice interventions and the evaluation of human service programs. These research skills and knowledge are presented from the perspective of promoting diversity and social and economic justice in the evaluation of social work intervention and the delivery of human service programs.
  Stress, Crisis and Coping SOCW 5316
(Formerly 6361)
The impact of specific crises on individuals and families will be examined. Typical crises will include life-threatening illness, trauma, physical and mental disability, and death. Assessment and evaluation of an individual's coping ability and appropriate strategies for social work interventions will be studied. Prerequisite: SOCW 5311; SOCW 5362 or concurrent enrollment; or SOCW 5352 or concurrent enrollment.
Spring Aging Policy and Social Justice SOCW 5343
(Formerly 6349)
Social welfare policies and programs are examined in terms of the overall impact on the aged and society. Needs and gaps in services to the aged are evaluated, especially concerning minority and low-income aged. Current issues in aging policy are examined. Prerequisite: SOCW 5303.
  Family Caregiving and Aging SOCW 5334
(Formerly 6385)
This course will give students an overview of the individual and social impact of family caregiving and aging within a bio-psycho-social context and the role(s) of social workers in helping individuals, families, and communities face the contemporary challenges of caregiving. Course content will be underscored by a strengths-based framework and will include the effects of culture on family caregiving, families’ process of providing care to persons with chronic and/or complex illness across levels of care (e.g. hospital/rehabilitation/hospice), working with family caregivers within long-term care settings (e.g. nursing homes), dementia caregiving, end of life care as well as evidence-based assessment and intervention with family caregivers. Social services and policy that social workers need to know in order to practice effectively with older adults and their family caregivers are discussed. Innovative approaches for addressing challenges in family caregiving (e.g. technology) are also explored. Particular attention is given to issues of family caregiving faced by diverse, marginalized, and oppressed populations.
  Death and Dying SOCW 5318
(Formerly 6366)
Topics vary from semester to semester depending on the needs and interest of the students. Prerequisite: permission of instructor
  Social Work in Managed Care SOCW 5344
(Formerly 6362)
This course explores the history of managed care in health and social services, as well as current topics and practical applications. It covers the underlying philosophy, current trends, and practice issues in fields including health care, aging, behavioral and mental health, and child welfare. The course involves students in assessing the potential for conflict between social work values, ethics, and managed care systems. The course builds skills for administrative roles in managed care settings.
  Advanced Field (SPLIT) SOCW 5482
(Formerly 6451)
Practical application of social work skills in real world environment. Student is assigned to field agency to enhance and practice learned theories. This course is 250 hours of direct client contact in agency setting as provided by the Field Experience Office. Prerequisite: SOCW 5310/SOCW 5551 and SOCW 5311
Summer Advanced Field (SPLIT) SOCW 5483
(Formerly 6452)
Practical application of social work skills in real world environment. Student is assigned to field agency to enhance and practice learned theories. This course is 250 hours of direct client contact in agency setting as provided by the Field Experience Office. Prerequisite: SOCW 5310/SOCW 5551 and SOCW 5311.
  Aging in American Society SOCW 5333/5335
(Formerly 6333)
This course presents the major theories of aging, in the United States and across cultures, and explores the diverse factors of aging from various perspectives including psychological, biological, sociological, and spiritual. Theories are integrated into practice thus providing students a sound foundation for social work practice with older adults. Students develop skills for completing multi-dimensional assessments, and effective social work interventions with and on behalf of older adults. Prerequisite: SOCW 5301 and SOCW 5307.
  Integrative Seminar SOCW 5395
(Formerly 6305)
The Integrative Seminar provides students with a learning experience aimed at demonstrating the ability to articulate, consolidate, analyze, evaluate, apply and synthesize research, theory, knowledge and skills learned in the course of their professional graduate education in social work. The perspective undergirding this seminar is that professional social work practice requires the mastery of a substantial body of social work and social science knowledge, skills, and values/ethics, with application to all levels of client systems: micro, mezzo and macro as well as administration of human service programs. This course is required of all non-thesis students in their final semester of coursework. A grade of C or better must be earned in this seminar to pass. If this requirement is not met, the student must repeat the course.

PDF Download: Direct Practice in Aging Cohort Degree Plan

Direct Practice Aging flyer