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Class Descriptions

Spirituality in Social Work Practice


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None

Pathway Associations

Community Change
Interpersonal PracticeElective (Host)
Mgmt & Leadership
Policy & Political
Program Evaluation
Older AdultsElective
Children & Families

Course Description

This course provides a framework of knowledge, values, skills, and experiences for culturally competent, ethical, and spiritually-sensitive social work practice. This course is focused on providing specialized understanding of spiritual diversity in social work practice along with application of that understanding to people of diverse religious and nonreligious spiritual perspectives and traditions and its relevance to practice, policy and research. This course will promote exploration of values, knowledge and skills to ethically and effectively provide services to clients that take into account diverse expressions of spirituality. The roles of religion and spirituality in supporting or impeding individual strengths and social justice will be considered. The relationship between spirituality concepts pertaining to gender, ethnicity, culture, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religious and spiritual beliefs, ability, social class, and age as well as spirituality across the life cycle will be addressed.


Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

1. Recognize the inclusion of the spiritual dimension of the biopsychosocial spiritual perspective as essential in holistically understanding individuals in the assessment and treatment planning and intervention process.
2. Demonstrate awareness of spirituality in the content of person- in-environment and culture and its impact on client coping with suffering, loss, injustice and attempts to heal, endure and reach one’s goals.
3. Understand and respect a variety of expressions of spirituality with and without relationship to religion.
4. Identify and critically reflect on diverse spiritual/religious perspectives and their implications for Social Work practice
5. Formulate qualities of a spiritually sensitive helping relationship and be able to apply a framework of spiritually in Social Work practice that is inclusive and respectful of diversity.
6. Develop skills necessary to assess the roles of spirituality and of religious practices in the lives of social work clients and to evaluate the potential place of spirituality in the helping process.
7. Identify and utilize different assessment models and tools for assessing clients’ spirituality.
8. Identify and demonstrate various spiritually sensitive interventions and apply them to social work practice.
9. Articulate both the supportive and the oppressive role spiritual/religious perspectives have played concerning issues of human diversity and marginalizing and exclusion based on gender, race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, health and mental health and social class.
10. Examine and reflect on one’s own spirituality and the impact on the development of professional identity and one’s Social Work practice.
11. Establish familiarity with social research related to the application of spiritual practices in relationship to physical, mental and spiritual health and well-being.


A variety of collaborative learning methods will be used to promote skill development including interactive lectures with active student participation, guest speakers, readings, in-class application exercises, role plays, practice clinical scenarios, videos and written assignments. Understanding core class concepts and the ability to apply these concepts will be emphasized.

Intensive Focus on Privilege, Oppression, Diversity and Social Justice (PODS)

This course integrates PODS content and skills with a special emphasis on the identification of theories, practice and/or policies that promote social justice and inclusion, illuminate injustices and oppression and are consistent with evidence-based and professional knowledge.
Students are invited and expected to actively contribute from their experiences, field placement practice and knowledge of readings, etc. to help support and develop a vision of social justice, learn to recognize and reduce mechanisms that support oppression and injustice, work toward social justice processes, apply intersectionality and intercultural frameworks and strengthen critical consciousness, self- knowledge and self-awareness to facilitate PODS learning in the context of spirituality integration in social work practice.

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