B.S.W. Program

B.S.W. Practice Roles

The six foundation generalist social work practice roles mastered by students in the BSW curriculum are defined below. Carrying out these roles requires paying constant attention and adherence to the ethical standards stated in the NASW Code of Ethics; sensitivity to human differences and cultural competence; social and economic justice especially as it applies to vulnerable populations; and research affirmed practice. Content on human diversity is infused throughout the curriculum, and as a result of participation in the Geriatric Social Initiative funded by the Hartford Foundation, content on aging has been strengthened.

  • Advocate:

    In the advocate role, the social worker champions the rights of others with the goal of empowering the client system being served. A social worker in the role of advocate speaks on behalf of clients when others will not listen or when clients are unable to do so. Social workers have a particular responsibility to advocate on behalf of those disempowered by society.
  • Broker:

    In the role of broker a social worker is a professional agent responsible for identifying, locating, and linking client systems to needed resources in a timely fashion. Once the client’s needs are assessed and potential services identified, the broker assists the client in choosing the most appropriate service option and assists in negotiating the terms of service delivery. In the role of broker the social worker is also concerned with the quality, quantity, and accessibility of services.
  • Community change agent:

    A community change agent participates as part of a group or organization seeking to improve or restructure some aspect of community service provision. A change agent, working with others, uses a problem-solving model to identify the problem, solicit community input, and plan for change. A community change agent acts in a coordinated manner to achieve planned change at multiple levels that helps to shift the focus of institutional resources to meet identified goals.
  • Counselor:

    The role of the professional counselor focuses on improving social functioning. In the role of counselor, the social worker helps client systems articulate their needs, clarify their problems, explore resolution strategies, and applies intervention strategies to develop and expand the capacities of client systems to deal with their problems more effectively. A key function of this role is to empower people by affirming their personal strengths and their capacities to deal with their problems more effectively.
  • Mediator:

    When dispute resolution is needed in order to accomplish goals, the professional social worker will carry out the role of mediator. In the mediator role, the social worker intervenes in disputes between parties to help them find compromises, reconcile differences, and reach mutually satisfying agreements. The mediator takes a neutral stance among the involved parties.
  • Researcher:

    In the researcher role, a social worker evaluates practice interventions and with others evaluates program outcomes. The researcher seeks to critically analyze the literature on relevant topics of interest and uses this information to inform practice. A researcher extends and disseminates knowledge, and seeks to enhance the effectiveness of social work practice.