CSWE Releases Advanced Military Social Work Practice Guidelines


For Immediate Release
Carrie Murdock deGuzman
Marketing and Communications Manager
1.703.519.2057, cmurdock@cswe.org

August 9, 2010 – Alexandria, VA—The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has released a set of educational guidelines specifying the specialized knowledge and skills that social work practitioners need to effectively serve military personnel, veterans, and their families. Directly addressing CSWE’s 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS), this guide seeks to increase specialization, certification, and other curricular offerings in social work programs that address military cultural awareness and service-related disorders. 

The 2008 EPAS is the directive that baccalaureate and master’s of social work programs are required to follow to attain and maintain accreditation with CSWE. The 2008 EPAS identifies 10 competencies that compose social work practice at the generalist practice level.

“These easily accessible guidelines will be a useful resource for all social work educators and practitioners who have already earned their MSW degree,” said CSWE Executive Director Julia M. Watkins. “Social workers and educators now have a versatile, specialized resource to respond to the military community’s growing treatment needs for depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and a wide range of other physical and mental health care services.”

Military social workers serve both personnel in and out of uniform—including but not limited to the armed forces, branches of the U.S. Department of Defense, veterans of all eras, noncombatant uniformed service members, and those participating in federal disaster relief and humanitarian missions. Specific agencies served by the military social work field are the Department of Homeland Security, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

CSWE’s guide to advanced military social work practice contains many educational components specifically designed to improve the health and well-being of military personnel, veterans, and their families.

The guidelines outline ways that social work practitioners should champion human rights and social and economic justice to advance the well-being of the military community. This involves identifying personnel needs in civilian and workplace settings and teaching clients skills that promote self-sufficiency and empowerment.

Understanding the individual’s unique role within active military and veteran cultural contexts is another area of specialized critical thinking covered. The guidelines recommend that practitioners consider the complexities accompanying the multiple responsibilities of military personnel before making a client assessment. Military social workers are encouraged to become familiar with the communication practices and standards of the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Related to contexts, the guidelines call for advanced practitioners to respond to other factors shaping military social work practice—history, trends, and innovations. Knowledge of the Uniform Code of Military Justice should be routinely applied to practice and a strong effort made to communicate effectively with veteran services organizations. The guidelines also cite information technologies as useful tools for social workers in conducting outreach and delivering services to military personnel.

The guidelines recommend strategies social workers can use to engage military community leaders and to employ a range of clinical and preventive interventions appropriate for combat-related injuries and diagnoses. This includes explaining the benefits and risks of military personnel seeking social services and understanding risk and protective factors associated with deployment and other life-changing experiences. Besides negotiating and mediating, social work practitioners should engage clients in ongoing self-awareness exercises.

Launched in early February, CSWE’s advanced practice in military social work education initiative strives to bridge the gap between the number of available prepared practitioners and the demand for social services among military personnel and their families. The initiative, cosponsored by the University of Southern California School of Social Work’s Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, began with of a group of 36 experts from various social work higher education, professional associations, and military backgrounds.

The 36 experts advising this initiative include its chair, Anthony Hassan (University of Southern California); Deborah Amdur (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs); Judy Arnold (Association of VA Social Workers); Kathryn Basham (Smith College); Frank Baskind (Virginia Commonwealth University); Phyllis Black (Marywood University); Judith Bremner (CSWE’s Accreditation and Educational Excellence director); Terri Brown (Fayetteville State University); Barbara Chandler (University of Alabama); Jon Conte (University of Washington); James Daley (Indiana University); Renee Daniel (Daemen College); Alan Dettlaff (University of Illinois at Chicago); Marilyn Flynn (University of Southern California); Cody Frasure (Association of VA Social Workers); Jesse Harris (University of Maryland); Jessica Holmes (CSWE’s associate director for research); Cindy Jones (Norfolk State University); Mildred “Mit” Joyner (West Chester University); Nathan Keller (U.S. Army/Fayetteville State University); Jim Kelly (National Association of Social Workers); Todd Lennon (U.S. Public Health Service); Cathleen Lewandowski (George Mason University); Jim Martin (Bryn Mawr College); Monica Matthieu (Washington University/St. Louis VA Medical Center); Julie Niven (Association of Social Work Boards); Mike Patchner (Indiana University); Jo Ann Regan (University of South Carolina); Jack Richman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill); Carol Sheets (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs); James Stockus (National Naval Medical Center); Peter Vaughan (Fordham University); Julia Watkins (CSWE’s executive director); Cynthia Williams (CSWE’s research associate); Marleen Wong (University of Southern California); and Jeff Yarvis (U.S. Army/Walter Reed Army Medical Center).

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is a nonprofit national association representing more than 3,000 individual members, as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education. Founded in 1952, this partnership of educational and professional institutions, social welfare agencies, and private citizens is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation as the sole accrediting agency for social work education.


Read the full set of Advanced Social Work Practice in Military Social Work guidelines (PDF) or consult the self-reported list of universities with military social work curricula. Be sure to attend hot topic session 157 at the 2010 APM.