Smith College School for Social Work BannerWeb
The MSW Program
The Ph.D. Program
Continuing Education Programs
BCR Fellowship
Academic Resources
Smith College Studies in Social Work
The Ph.D. Program


All classes meet four hours per week unless otherwise indicated. The Registrar will enroll all PhD students in the appropriate classes in March or April 2014. Once enrollments are complete, students can view their schedules via BannerWeb. PhD courses are generally not scheduled in the evenings or on Fridays.

620 Advanced Clinical Practice I

This course differentially examines a number of interrelated psychodynamic theories as they apply to clinical social work practice with individuals. Drive theory and ego psychology are considered in the context of ongoing therapeutic interventions with clients in a wide range of diagnostic categories. Theoretical perspectives are illuminated through historical and contemporary case material so that the course pivots on a comparison between student and faculty generated ideas and classic and contemporary psychodynamic approaches to practice. Material that deals with the effects of trauma on psychosocial development, issues of race, historical and cultural context and a contemporary feminist critique are introduced. Required course first summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

621 Advanced Clinical Practice II

This course will consider differential approaches in treating clients with borderline, schizoid and narcissistic personality organizations. It will focus on the contributions that object relations theory and self-psychology, as articulated by Winnicott, Mahler, Horner, Kohut and their followers, have made to treatment theory and technique. We will emphasize the clinician's role in establishing compensatory treatment relationships specifically designed to promote progressive emotional development and self-cohesion. Consideration will be given to modifying these traditional treatment approaches in ways that make them more sensitive to issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, disability, age, religion and sexual orientation. Attention is paid to the influences of trauma, substance use/abuse and social context in clinical practice. The conscious use of self provides the underpinning for clinical case discussions that address issues and ethical dilemmas regarding effective clinical interventions. Consideration is also given to research methodology that examines clinical processes. Required course first summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

623 Treatment of Children and Their Families (not currently offered)

This is an advanced clinical practice course designed to develop students' clinical skills in direct work with children from infancy through adolescence, involving substantial work with parents/caregivers as primary change agents with the children in their lives. While many approaches currently validated draw on cognitive-behavioral models of treatment, there are also psychodynamic, relationship-based approaches which have extensive research validation and will be a focus in this course. Methods used in class will involve traditional lecture-discussion, but also videos, two papers and periodic quizzes to develop mastery of at least five primary evidence-based therapy models. The course will cover the research providing an evidence base for the practices presented, along with methods and practice guidelines to aid both those who will do direct clinical work and those who will go on to teach graduate students preparing for clinical careers. Two quarter-hours.

626 Treatment of Oppressed Populations

This five-week practice course will focus on fellows' clinical work with oppressed populations, with emphases on the ongoing formation and challenges of the working and therapeutic alliances in clinical work with such clients. In particular, we will explore fellow's/therapist's and client's race-, culture- and ethnicity-related intersubjective processes, including intersubjective perspectives of and approaches to transference, counter-transference, defenses and resistance. When present in the clinical material, other dimensions of diversity such as gender, social class and sexual orientation will also be incorporated and explored. The course will rely on fellows' clinical work as material for discussion, exploration, critique and shared learning. Fellows are encouraged to incorporate the various psychological theories and research findings from their doctoral coursework and related professional learning, explore and apply diversity and multicultural material and perspectives presented in this course to their clinical work with oppressed populations, and develop an ability to revise, expand, refine and deepen their clinical understanding and skills in working with their clients. Two quarter-hour credits.

629 Treatment of Trauma (not currently offered)

This five-week intensive course will cover the basic tenets of trauma theory and its application in clinical settings. The course will offer a historical and political context for clinical theory and address the developmental lines of current trauma theory. Integrating new research on the physiology of trauma with attachment theory, developmental psychology and the posttraumatic stress literature, the course will build an integrated model of trauma treatment with a focus on relational models of treatment. As part of the relational focus, there will be significant attention paid to the person of the therapist within the therapeutic relationship, especially on the constructs of countertransference and vicarious traumatization. Two quarter-hour credits.

650 Advanced Psychological Theory I

650 and 651 explore those psychological theories which help illuminate the inner and interpersonal lives of individuals. Using drive theory, ego psychology, object relations theory, self psychology and intersubjective theories, students examine how theories are transformed by the internal and external critiques which revise them. These five psychologies are taught in their historical and sociocultural contexts, with attention paid to their biases and strengths especially as they relate to women and people of color. The influence of postmodernism on psychoanalytic theorizing is also considered. These courses are integrated with the content covered in Advanced Clinical Practice I & II. Required course first summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

651 Advanced Psychological Theory II

650 and 651 explore those psychological theories which help illuminate the inner and interpersonal lives of individuals. Using drive theory, ego psychology, object relations theory, self psychology and intersubjective theories, students examine how theories are transformed by the internal and external critiques which revise them. These five psychologies are taught in their historical and sociocultural contexts, with attention paid to their biases and strengths especially as they relate to women and people of color. The influence of postmodernism on psychoanalytic theorizing is also considered. These courses are integrated with the content covered in Advanced Clinical Practice I & II. Required course first summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

660 Social Policy I: Health Policy & Services

The purpose of this course is to develop an understanding of the major components of the health care delivery and financing system in the United States, and to develop skills in health care policy analysis. Health policy formulation is discussed, as well as the impacts of these policies on the population, and on social work practice.  The historical, economic, political, and social context of policy making will be covered, and frameworks for policy analysis will be presented.  Major components of the role of social work in policy formulation will be addressed, including its major impact on health care policy in the past, and the impact of current health care policy on clinical social work practice is explored.

Students will integrate the course content with their practice experiences and will form task forces to conduct a health policy analysis to include recent health sector reform efforts, as their final project; a focus on vulnerable populations will be encouraged. Students will be encouraged to think about ways in which the values of the profession of social work can influence health care policy.

670 Social Work Research Methods I (six hours weekly)

670 and 671 present an overview and critical analysis of the research methods commonly used in social work and other related disciplines. They involve reading about these research methods, critically analyzing a variety of research reports that use them and applying research methods to an area relevant to the advancement of knowledge in clinical social work selected by each student. The importance of critical thinking and knowledge development for the profession is emphasized throughout, especially as it applies to the advanced practitioner/scholar. These courses prepares students for the application of research knowledge and skills in the required dissertation process. Required course first summer. Three quarter-hour credits.

671 Social Work Research Methods II (six hours weekly)

Continuation of 670, above. Three quarter-hour credits.

690 Advanced Social Theory I: Sociological Paradigms for Clinical Practice

This course describes, critically examines and compares the three major sociological paradigms— structural-functional, conflict, symbolic interactional— which have historically influenced, informed and critiqued social work practice, programs and policy. Attention is paid to the role that ideology plays in the evolution of theory, policy, programs, practice and the profession. Students are encouraged to use these theoretical paradigms to examine their practice and the organizations in which their practice takes place in order to understand the effects of social and institutional forces on their day-to-day work with clients. This examination pays particular attention to issues of quality and distributive justice; poverty, class, race, gender and ethnicity are also considered. Implications for clinical social work practice are discussed. Required course first summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

692 Metaperspectives on Clinical Social Work

This course examines how professional knowledge evolves in the context of broader intellectual currents in philosophy, the philosophy of science and the social sciences. This course focuses on some contemporary debates in epistemology and the sociology of knowledge effecting clinical social work theories, practices and knowledge development. The course also addresses the relevance and practical utility for clinical social work practitioners and educators of remaining attuned to significant issues in the social, political and intellectual context of practice. Required course first summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

820 Advanced Clinical Practice III

This course builds on object relations theorists that have been presented in Psychological Theories III. The focus is on the relational perspectives of contemporary clinical social work practice with individuals. These theoretical perspectives are illuminated through case material with an emphasis on what clinicians actually say in their sessions and understanding the dialogue between clinicians and clients as relational events. Consideration will be given to transference/counter-transference, resistance, empathy, self-disclosure, neutrality, interpretation and the process of working through as they affect the practice process. Some attention will also be given to research methods for evaluating the outcome of relational process. Required course second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

825 Theory Development and Research: Infancy and early Childhood I

Concepts of development underlie both retrospective and clinical information and theories of psychoanalytic change. Psychoanalytic theories in particular usually include an explicit "metaphor of the baby." Such metaphors are often bases on retrospective inference rather than on empirical observation. Recent research and theory from normal developmental psychology will be examined as it bears on one's view of infancy and childhood. The work of Daniel Stern, Beatrice Beebe, Frank Lachmann, Edward Tronick and Carlin Lyons-Ruth and other infant researchers will be discussed as well as the work of such observers as John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth, Mary Main and Margaret Mahler. We will study such topics as 1) infant competencies; 2) the origin of self and object; 3) the mutual influence model; 4) attachment to caregiver; 5) impact of maternal psychopathology; 6) mother-infant models of treatment. Later classes will demonstrate clinical possibilities for the use of infant development research in adult treatment. Required course second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

828 Couples Therapy (not currently offered)

Through didactic presentations and discussion, analysis of videotaped interviews and experiential exercise, students will be introduced to the fundamental theories and practices of work with couples. Practice from systemic and psychoanalytic perspectives will be emphasized. The course will focus on three levels: 1) the set of expectations and promises of "models of intimacy," brought to the relationship from each partner's family of origin; 2) the problematic sequences in current interaction; and 3) the larger systemic context of significant others that serves to maintain the problem. The theoretical framework for understanding couples will draw on object relations, intergenerational, cognitive-behavioral and social constructionist perspectives. Elective course first or second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

829 Advanced Family Therapy (not currently offered)

Participants in this course will investigate couples' and families' functioning and malfunctioning through the family life cycle. We will organize the data by means of a psychoanalytic-systemic perspective. Our psychoanalytic framework will be predominantly an interpersonal one, and the systems orientations primarily structural and Bowenian theories. Taking major concepts and constructs from each of those orientations (e.g. transference, countertransference, triangulation, boundaries and genograms), we will use our understanding of theory to generate interventions for cases. Videotape, reported sessions and readings constitute the methods of the course. Elective course first or second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

831 Advanced Group Theory and Practice (not currently offered)

The family and society attempt to provide a background of safety, continuity and preparation for the developing child. However, sudden violent events and cumulative traumatic events may occur which impact a child's psychological development. This course will establish what defines the optimal background of safety moving forward to identify what acute and chronic trauma are. The mental activity of the child and the neurobiological activities accompanying these traumatic events will be described through case examples and pertinent literature. Other particular areas of traumatic insult which will be explored include: transgenerational impacts of traumatic expectations, children's exposure to extremes of domestic violence, child sexual and physical abuse, children in the context of chronic community and family violence. Psychotherapy with children through school intervention programs, individual casework and parent guidance will be discussed with pertinent case examples. In addition, forensic evaluations of traumatized children will be available for students' study. Elective course first or second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

850 Advanced Psychological Theory III: Object Relations Theories

Object relations theory has become one of the most important paradigms in contemporary psychoanlytic theory and practice. Minimal attention has been given in this country to its early beginnings in the Hungarian School of Psychoanalysis, with links to its later development in the British School during the 1930-50s and continued evolution in contemporary relational theory. The objective of this course is to examine some of the seminal contributions of Ferenczi and his students to this theory and to trace its further development in the writings of his analysand, Melanie Klein, her contemporaries D. W. Winnicott and W. R. Fairbairn and finally in recent relational theorists like Mitchell, Chodorow, Cooper, Ogden, Maroda and others. The need for a cultural critique of object relations theory will be considered in the course of our reading and discussion. Required course second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

861 Social Policy II: Mental Health Policy & Services

The purpose of this course, which builds on Social Policy I, is to develop an understanding of the mental health service delivery system in the United States and skills in mental health policy analysis. The course identifies major components of and gaps in the current mental health service delivery system; describes the historical, social and economic influences on the development of mental health policy; considers the impact of national and other health reform efforts on the delivery and financing of mental health services; and considers the intended and unintended effects of mental health policy on vulnerable populations, including the poor and those with serious and persistent mental illness. The impact of mental health policy on clinical social work practice is emphasized. Two quarter-hour credits.

872 Statistical Methods for Data Analysis (six hours weekly)

This 10-week course is for second year doctoral students with prior experience in statistical methods. It details the organization, transformation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of quantitative data. Univariate, bivariate and multivariate statistical procedures applicable to both parametric and nonparametric group data are covered, including the process of selecting statistics and the assumptions associated with each procedure. The course will review fundamental concepts of statistics, introduce computer-based analyses and introduce modeling procedures. Published examples of each statistic will be examined to illustrate appropriate use and interpretations. Students will work with the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) on all aspects of the course. Required course second summer. Three quarter-hour credits each term.

873 Statistical Methods for Data Analysis (six hours weekly)

Continuation of 872, above. Three quarter-hour credits each term.

890 Advanced Social Theory II: Anthropological Perspectives on Development

This course uses anthropological theories to consider concepts and constructions of the self cross-culturally and within American society. Students examine some of the values embedded within their own culture's view of the self relative to other cultures. How different cultures construct gender, race, kinship organizations, affects, sexuality and disorders of the self are examined from a number of perspectives. Ethnographic methods, their strengths and limitations, are considered. Finally, this course looks at the relevance of the construction of self and self disorders to practice in a multicultural society. Required course second summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

894 Perspectives on Social Work Education I

This course invites SSW fellows to consider the roles of the supervisor, consultant and adviser in clinical social work practice (knowledge, skills and values) across the continuum of professional development and practice. Fellows will be encouraged to consider differential supervisory styles which are theoretically informed by the various psychodynamic perspectives and by the developmental needs of supervisees. Similarities and differences in the expectations of settings where clinical social work teaching and practice occurs, whether academic or agency based, will be the primary focus. Discussions of clinical supervision, faculty academic and field advising and consultation are planned with the goals of greater understanding of educational assessment and evaluation of teaching/learning needs, and the use of self in these contexts. Two quarter-hour credits.

1030 Senior Seminar in Clinical Social Work Theory and Practice: Intersubjectivity

This exit practice seminar examines contemporary issues in clinical social work practice by considering dilemmas faced by advanced clinical social work practitioners and scholars. Topics might include such areas as 1) managing managed care; 2) trauma, false memory, MPD, ritual abuse and the practice dilemmas therein; 3) race, ethnicity and gender in advanced clinical social work practice; 4) boundary violations and boundary maintenance in the student/supervisor relationship and client/therapist relationship; and 5) issues/dilemmas in research on practice. Topics are developed between instructor and students, and selected case presentations are used. Required course third summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

1050 Advanced Psychological Theory IV: Contemporary Trends in Psychoanalytic Theory

This course examines some of the more recent developments in psychoanalytic theory and the controversies that these ideas have created for clinical practice. Several themes will be discussed, including the decreased importance of the tripartite model, the increased emphasis on non-pathological and normal child development and the increased focus on interpersonal experiences and other non-instinctual motives. However, the major focus will be on the conflict between "one person" versus "two person" psychologies. This conflict will be studied by examining current theories (including the work of Kohut, Weiss, Mitchell and others) to see what position they take on these controversies and the resulting implications for treatment. Required course third summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

1070 Dissertation Design Seminar

This seminar acquaints students with the characteristics of dissertation research through presentation of dissertation reports, assigned readings and review of proposals. Considered are some of the conceptual and methodological issues encountered in each project, and the consequences of their resolution for the work. This seminar also fosters individual progress toward developing a dissertation proposal by providing individual consultation and peer review and discussion of the design efforts of each class member. Required course third summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

1072 Qualitative Research Methods

This course builds on the introduction to flexible or qualitative methods of research offered in 670/671. Beginning with the underlying philosophical connections between theory and method coupled with consideration of relevant ethical principles, the course presents an overview of the continuum of types of qualitative research and evaluation methods.  Issues involved in the selection of research questions and approaches, ethical issues; selection of participants; observation, interviewing and the use of documents in data collection; and data analysis will be examined.  The assumptions that guide the appropriate use of these methods, their strengths and limitations, and common omissions in accounts of these methods are examined and applied to the creation and critique of qualitative studies.  Attention to issues of human diversity and applications to practice will be emphasized throughout; along with assessment of the quality of qualitative studies and reports.

1074 Research on Clinical Social Work Practice

This course covers the history and current status of research on clinical social work practice and psychotherapy research in closely allied disciplines. The study of processes and outcomes, qualitative and quantitative approaches, group and single case methods as well as nomothetic designs are considered. The potential for research both to enhance, and to detract from, practice is discussed. The relationship between various practice theories and the research methods used to study them is examined. The "state of the art" of practice evaluation and research is appraised. Students are encouraged to identify the methods of systematic study that might be best suited to their own practices and future research. Required course third summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

1090 Perspectives on Social Work Education II

This course is a continuation of 894 and builds upon it. In this course, students have a further opportunity to examine some of the issues involved in teaching theory and practice to MSW students and to professional social workers. The course includes content on the development of clinical social work education in particular: classroom teaching; working with adult learners; the special challenges in teaching and learning clinical material; the use of the case in teaching; supervision, consultation and advisement as modes of teaching; and the development of a career in social work education. Students present and reflect on their own work as clinical teachers and/or supervisors. Required course third summer. Two quarter-hour credits.

Practice Electives

Fellows will take a practice elective in Session III. Some electives that have recently been offered include:

623 Treatment of Children and Their Families

625 Contemporary Trauma Theory and Practice

629 Treatment of Trauma


Updated 10/24/13