Definition of Generalist Practice
Generalist practice is defined as the use of the problem solving process to intervene with systems of various sizes, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. By problem solving process, we are referring to a step-by-step model that includes engaging with the client, assessing problem areas and identifying strengths, creating and carrying out an intervention plan, evaluating the success of that intervention, and terminating the client practitioner relationship. The generalist operates within the systems and person-in-environment framework and recognizes that many problems require intervention with more than one system (Boyle, Hull, Mather, Smith and Farley, 2009; CSWE, 2008). In general, the student is taught to utilize the general problem solving method, underscored by a combination of social work values, knowledge and skills, to help client systems maintain positive transaction with their environments. The program places special emphasis upon helping marginalized minority and at-risk clients successfully transact their rural environments.
Through liberal arts content, students acquire the knowledge, values, skills and attitudes consistent with the values of generalist social work practice and a generalist social work perspective. Undergraduate liberal arts content in human biology, sociology, political science, psychology, economics, English literature and composition, mathematics, the humanities and history are prerequisites for a major in social work. Content from these disciplines permeate the social work foundation curriculum. Content from the liberal arts is built upon throughout the curricula.
Concepts and knowledge from human biology, psychology and sociology help students understand the bio-psychosocial approach to working with client systems of all sizes. More specifically, these three content areas help students understand issues related to people as individuals, human development, human behavior in the social environment, family functioning, life-cycle issues, group processes, social institutions, social change, human sexuality, social inequality, cultural differences, social problems, communities and organizations. Content from human biology helps students perceive the natural relationships, among all living things and their environment with particular reference to man and his utilization of living organisms. It also provides students with knowledge of and insights into the hysiological functioning of human beings.
Content in English composition and literature also provide a firm foundation for our curriculum. Writing is emphasized and required in all social work courses. Students must be able to develop professional written communication skills. They do this by writing papers and essays in their different classes. In field internships, they must be able to write professional case recordings and reports. In addition, they must demonstrate oral facility during class presentations. Students are also encouraged to submit proposals and make presentations at professional conferences.
Literature and humanities content is included in Human Behavior in the Social Environment, which deals with mezzo, macro and micro perspectives. Students are required to read relevant books and articles and use the literature to discuss the development of institutions, and laws and policy in society. They also learn to integrate knowledge of the visual arts, theater and music into their understanding of values, beliefs and customs of specific cultures and societies.