Home About Forms Registration Graduation Course Descriptions Student Resources Faculty Resources

Social Work 682

SOWK 682: Biopsychosocial Assessment

Prerequisites: SOWK 602, completion of SOWK 679 with a B or better, or permission of the instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

This course focuses on identifying individual and family strengths and on viewing behavior in context. Particular emphasis is placed on assessing the risks and the protective factors of the person in environment from a systems perspective. This course addresses the diagnosis of mental disorders and evidence based treatment. Issues of diversity, cultural competence, ethics, laws, and social justice are integrated into the course content.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course is designed to facilitate understanding of the standard criteria used to diagnose individual and family dysfunction while at the same time fostering awareness of the limitations of deficit models. Equal emphasis will be placed on the ability to identify individual and family strengths as well as on a perspective that views all behavior as situated within a larger environment. Consideration will be given to an understanding of the extent to which the professional may participate in the social construction of mental illness, to the role of the social worker and his/her influence on client behavior, to values and ethical issues, and to the biases relative to age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status inherent in various diagnostic criteria.

The following will provide the major focal points for this course:

• Systems Theory
• DSM-IV-TR
• Mental Status Examinations
• The Diagnostic Interview
• Multiaxial Diagnosis
• Social Construction of “Normal”
• Strengths-Based Assessment
• Biopsychosocial Risk and Protective Factors
• Psychotropic Medications
• Legal Issues
• Labeling Theory
• Culturally Bound Syndromes
• Values and Ethical Issues


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The teaching/learning context for this course may include, but is not limited to didactic instruction, large and small group discussions, role-plays, other experiential activities, and guest speakers as appropriate.


Goals and Objectives of the course

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

1. Demonstrate skills in assessing “person-in-environment,” incorporating the biopsychosocial model of assessment.
2. Practice within the values and ethics and legal realities of the social work profession with an understanding of and respect for the positive value of both diversity and culture.
3. Apply critical thinking about the assumptions, values, and bias underlying the DSM-IV-TR.
4. Demonstrate knowledge of the DSM-IV-TR utilization in the diagnosis assessment process and the primary intervention approaches including the use of psychotropic medications and/or psychotherapy/case management in the treatment of these disorders.


Assessment Measures

Grades will be based on the satisfactory completion of all course requirements, which may include but are not limited to:

• Diagnostic case studies
• Class presentations
• Research paper
• Exams or quizzes