Clinical Program and Curriculum

Our Clinical Social Work Program

While promoting a professional social work identity, the Master of Social Work program at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) is proudly a program of study with a focus on clinical social work.

At the UBCO School of Social Work, “clinical social work” refers to the application of various theories of human behaviour and contextual understanding of social environment to conceptualize clients’ difficulties, while integrating dynamic effects of discrimination, economic hardships and additional oppressive structural forces on individual lives. Utilizing multi-dimensional clinical assessments, clinical social work aims to restore, maintain and enhance physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Additional focus expands to include improving the overall human condition through positive structural changes and enhancing diversity and equality at a micro, mezzo and macro scale.

A clinical social worker at UBCO is trained to conduct individual, family, couple and environmental assessments, diagnose or understand human and ecological problems, identify effective therapies, counseling techniques, advocacy, or environmental interventions, and collaboratively with the client employ evidence-based psychological or environmental methods for resolving bio-psycho-social difficulties.

Rooted in a longstanding commitment to social justice, clinical social workers utilize practice knowledge to inform social policy, research, advocacy, and social action. Informed by theory and available evidence-based practice, clinical social workers emphasize the centrality of helping relationships, tailoring their interventions to the unique needs of each client whilst abiding to the social work code of ethics and the policies of the British Columbia College of Social Workers (BCCSW), and like regulatory bodies nationally and North America-wide: to which graduates of our clinical program are eligible to apply for full registration/licensing.

All School of Social Work field education opportunities are clinical, as elaborated in the Harriman (2016) article  Clinical is as Clinical Does.


MSW Program Objectives

The MSW courses and field education aim to:

  1. facilitate and enhance students’ social work identity
  2. facilitate students’ theoretical understanding of the dynamic interaction between individuals and their social environments
  3. advance students’ knowledge and skills to critically analyze personal problems from social and psychological perspectives in clinical practice
  4. teach advanced skills of engagement, assessment, formulation, planning and intervention, and evaluation
  5. enhance students’ knowledge and skills for reflexive and reflective clinical practice
  6. enhance students’ knowledge and skills for clinical decision-making based on ethical principles
  7. enhance students’ knowledge and skills in the use of evidence to inform clinical practice
  8. develop students’ knowledge and skills to integrate inter-sectionalities of ability, age, class, culture, ethnicity, gender, Indigeneity, power, religion, race,  sexual orientation, social condition, among other positionalities, in clinical social work practice
  9. develop students’ advocacy and leadership skills in facilitating organizational, policy, and community-level change
  10. enhance students’ knowledge and skills to work with positional differences in clinical practice

Clinical Professional Registration

In Canada, the process of registering as a social worker is under provincial jurisdiction. The British College of Social Workers (BCCSW) regulates the Social Work profession in BC. BCCSW has two classes of registration, the Registered Social Worker (RSW) and the Registered Clinical Social Worker (RCSW).  As our MSW is an accredited program, and our curriculum offers three courses that meet the Colleges’ RCSW Clinical Course of Study requirement (SOCW 525, SOCW 551 and SOCW 554).  Note: The SOCW 525 course is a part of the Foundational Track curriculum. MSW Advanced Track students should have completed comparable coursework in their BSW. Students may wish to consult directly with the BCCSW to determine if their BSW, or other prior coursework in human development, may be applied to their course requirement.

To learn more about becoming a registered clinical social worker in BC visit the BCCSW