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Interpersonal Practice

This practice method prepares students to restore, maintain, and promote social functioning. These change objectives relate to the individual, family, or small groups and focus on the transactional relationship between persons and their social environment. The basic objective of the concentration is to offer students a well-integrated program of classroom and field instruction experiences that prepare them for working directly with client populations.

Program Details

Students concentrating in interpersonal practice are required to complete four methods courses, including the two foundation methods courses: Interpersonal Practice with Individuals, Families, and Small Groups (SW 521) and Management, Community Organization, and Policy Practice (SW 560).

Students must also complete two of the following advanced courses, each worth three credit-hours.

Student Profile
LeTorrian Jackson

  • Practice Area:
    Interpersonal Practice
  • Concentration:
    Mental Health
  • Minor:
    Management of Human Services
  • Field:
    Adult Wellbeing Services, Detroit
  • Scholarships:
    Eleanor Cranefield Scholarship; Arthur L. Johnson Endowed Scholarship

“I knew from a young age that I would be in a job where I could help people,” says MSW candidate LeTorrian Jackson. “I volunteered at a soup kitchen and dragged my mom to community clean-ups!” At U-M, LeTorrian majored in Psychology. “I thought I would be a doctor,” she says, “but I fell in love with the theories behind Psychology. I knew, whatever I did in life, it would involve some kind of counseling. I’m curious, I love to ask questions, I love to see people grow, and I had seen first-hand how untreated mental illness can affect lives. I watched people fight for their lives with mental health issues and not have anyone to sit down with who could hear their voice.”

LeTorrian explains something else she has seen first-hand: “The African American community has not yet recognized mental health as a thing,” she says. “It’s private. It stays within the family. But it should be brought to light. The more we talk about it, the more we can embrace it and show how common it is for someone to suffer from a mental illness and yet have a good quality of life.”

After her BA, a gap year with AmeriCorps’s City Year program showed LeTorrian the way to her life’s work. “We were in a low-resource school,” she recalls, “helping students with academics and doing behavioral interventions. We were basically like social workers. I talked to students and parents and loved helping others and providing resources. That led me to apply to social work specifically, because it’s not always about the mind, but about how people’s social environments affect them.”

LeTorrian heard about the Detroit Clinical Scholars program at the U-M School of Social Work, and that led her to apply. “I really liked how they focused on community mental health,” she says, “and helping underserved populations receive better care.”

And that is just what LeTorrian is doing now in her field placement at Adult Wellbeing Services, an integrated community mental health clinic in Detroit, where she helps adults with severe mental illness and other special needs. “I work closely with psychiatrists, nurses, and other providers,” she says. “This is the kind of collaborative partnership I was looking for. This is where the field is moving.”

“I want to help at the community level. That’s where the best experiences are. I am from Detroit, and my future will definitely involve Detroit. I would love to work at the VA or another integrated health clinic. Detroit is a rose in the concrete. People don’t take the time to go through the city and realize what a rich culture and heritage it has. I want a hand in helping Detroit get back to the way it used to be.”

LeTorrian has received help on her journey in the form of her Eleanor Cranefield Scholarship and her Arthur L. Johnson Endowed Scholarship, the latter established by Richard and Susan Rogel to honor a leader of the Detroit NAACP. “Without the scholarships I would not have been able to attend U-M,” she declares. “The scholarship support provided relief from my financial stress and enabled me to focus on my work, perform well, and obtain my MSW. I am very thankful. Someone has invested in me to be successful. Eleanor Cranefield was a great teacher, and her legacy continues with great teachers I have had at the School of Social Work: Daicia Price, Beth Sherman, Abigail Eiler, and, on macro side, Larry Gant and Sean de Four. Arthur Johnson did awesome work. He was a person for the people; he wanted people to thrive.  I am honored to receive a scholarship in the name of Arthur Johnson he really helped Detroit. Someday I would love to give back and support someone on their academic journey.”



  • M. Antonio G. Alvarez

    M. Antonio G. Alvarez

    LEO Lecturer II
    School social work, adventure based practice, child welfare, community-based interventions, bullying and suicide prevention and intervention, international social work, and practice with indigenous/immigrant populations.
  • Angela M. Ayoub

    Angela M. Ayoub

    LEO Intermittent Lecturer
  • Richard Barinbaum

    Richard Barinbaum

    LEO Intermittent Lecturer
  • Alethia J. Battles

    Alethia J. Battles

    LEO Adjunct Lecturer & UMH Probate and Judicial Liaison
Full faculty list »

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