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Theory Informed Direct Practice: SSWG 5101 and SSWG 5102

Recommended library resources for theory-informed social work direct practice with individuals and families

Planning Definition and Resources


Planning is "the process of specifying future objectives, evaluating the means for achieving them, and making deliberate choices about appropriate courses of action. This process of choice involves two aspects: (1) rational decision making, which seeks to examine all relevant alternatives and select from among them, and (2) incremental decision making, which encompasses a more limited range of alternatives and practical considerations."

Source: Robert L. Barker. (2014). The Social Work Dictionary, 6th Edition. NASW Press.

Course Readings (access via Canvas)

SSWG 5102 Readings on Planning and Contracting

  • Thomlison, B. (2016). Setting Goals and Selecting Family Interventions (Chapter 5). In Family assessment handbook (4th Edition) (pp. 92-109). Cengage Learning.
  • Drisko, J. (2017). Active Collaboration with Clients: An Underemphasized but Vital Part of Evidence-Based Practice. Social Work, 62(2), 114-121.
  • Barker, P. & Chang, J. (2013). Establishing treatment goals. In Basic family therapy, 6th ed. (pp. 88-94). John Wiley & Sons.
  • Miller, W. R. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Evoking: Preparation for Change (Part IV, Chapters 12-18). In Motivational Interviewing (3rd Edition) (pp. 155-254). Guildford Press.
  • Miller, W. R. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Planning: The Bridge to Change (Part V, Chapters 19-22). In Motivational Interviewing (3rd Edition) (pp. 255-301). Guildford Press.
  • Hepworth, D.H., Rooney, R.H., Rooney, G.D. & Strom-Gottfried, K. (2017). Developing goals and formulating a contract (Chapter 12). In Direct Social Work Practice: Theory and Skills (10th Edition) (pp. 312-361). Cengage Learning.
  • Singer, J. B. (Host). (2009, October 10). Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change Model for social workers (Episode 53) [Audio podcast episode]. In Social Work Podcast. Blogspot.
  • Barker, P. & Chang, J. (2013). Establishing treatment goals. Basic family therapy (6th Edition) (pp. 88-94). John Wiley & Sons.
  • De Jong, P., & Berg, I. (2013). Problem Solving to Solution Building (Chapter 1). In Interviewing for solutions (4th Edition) (pp. 1-12). Cengage Learning.
  • De Jong, P., & Berg, I. (2013). Solution Building: The Basics (Chapter 2). In Interviewing for solutions (4th Edition) (pp. 13-19). Cengage Learning.

Contracting and Documentation


Contracting is "the therapeutic procedure of discussing with the client the goals, methods, and mutual obligations of treatment to obtain a clear verbal understanding or to establish a formal agreement about them."

A contract is "a written, oral, or implied agreement between the client and the social worker as to the goals, methods, timetables, and mutual obligations to be fulfilled during the intervention process."

A contract model is "an orientation in social work practice in which the social worker and client identify goals at the beginning of the relationship and formally establish a working agreement about how to reach them. The agreement includes a specification of terms, the timetables, and other procedures. The contract may be written or oral, and unlike a legal contract, may easily be renegotiated during the course of the intervention process."

Source: Robert L. Barker. (2014). The Social Work Dictionary, 6th Edition. NASW Press.

Informed Consent

SSWG 5101 Readings on Focusing and Documentation

  • Cameron, S. & turtle-song, i. (2002). Learning to write case notes using the SOAP format. Journal of counseling and development, 80, 286-292.
  • Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Chapters 8-11 Focusing: The Strategic Direction. In Motivational Interviewing (3rd Edition) (p. 91-154). Guilford Press.



Some organizations are advocating for writing explicit equity and inclusion goals. For example, SMART(IE) goals, which adds I for Inclusion and E for Equity to the SMART goals.

Treatment Planners

Treatment planners and practice manuals.


Examples of treatment planners

Try several ways to search for treatment planners and practice guidelines

  1. Add "treatment planner" to a problem term (suicide, addiction, etc.)
  2. Add keywords like violence planning handbook, which will return all records that have these four words, with highest relevance if they are in the title.  The top result would be:  Violence assessment and intervention : the practitioner's handbook
  3. Use Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Genre/Form Headings to search in Library Search.  Subject is what the item is about.  Genre/Form  is about the type.
    Handbooks, manuals, etc. is a form subdivision under subjects for concise reference works in which facts and information pertaining to the subject are arranged for ready reference and consultation rather than for continuous reading and study.
    Planning is use as a topical subdivision under names of individual corporate bodies and under types of activities, facilities, industries, services, undertakings, etc., for works that describe or discuss the planning process
    Treatment is used as a topical subdivision under individual diseases and types of diseases.
  • Library Search results can be filtered by selecting the Genre "Handbook, manuals, etc.; or
  • Enter Handbooks, manuals, etc in the Genre field in Advanced Search.  Enter a problem in the "Subject: field or "All Fields".  Enter in All Fields, the word "treatment planning" (without quotes).
  1. Within the Library Search results, select the links in the subject field to find more similar materials. 

Tip: Selecting the last term will search all three headings.  Selecting the first, will search only the first term (problem).


Intervention Definitions and Approaches

Definitions of Evidence Based Practices are on the Find Evidence-Base Practices page


"In social work, the term is analogous to the physician’s term “treatment.” Many social workers prefer using “intervention” because it includes “treatment” and other activities to solve or prevent problems or achieve goals. Thus, it refers to psychotherapy, advocacy, mediation, social planning, community organization, finding and developing resources, and many other activities.

Source: Robert L. Barker. (2014). The Social Work Dictionary, 6th Edition. NASW Press.

Intervention Research

"A very general definition of “intervention” would be any interference that would modify a process or situation. A widely used definition of social intervention was suggested by Seidman (1983) as actions that change intra-societal relationships, planned or unplanned, intended or unintended. In social work, the purpose of intervention is to induce change in order to block or eradicate risk factors, activate and mobilize protective factors, reduce or eradicate harm, or introduce betterment beyond harm eradication. Intervention research occupies a very specific place in the social work profession; we may say that social work is social intervention by its very nature. Intervention research refers to the scientific study of interventions for social and health problems."

Source: Soydan, H. (2014) Intervention Research. In Encyclopedia of Social Work. Oxford University Press

treatment Correcting or alleviating a disorder, disease, or problem. This term was once commonly used, in addition to “study” and “diagnosis,” in social work; however, the preferred term now is intervention, because it does not have the medical connotation and implies an orientation toward resolving a wider range of problems. See also therapy and typology of casework treatment.

MLA 9th Edition (Modern Language Assoc.)
Robert L. Barker. The Social Work Dictionary, 6th Edition. NASW Press, 2014.

APA 7th Edition (American Psychological Assoc.)
Robert L. Barker. (2014). The Social Work Dictionary, 6th Edition: Vol. Sixth edition. NASW Press.

Course Readings (access via Canvas)

SSWG 5102 Readings

  • Thomlison, B. (2016). Family-Centered Interventions for Coping with Difficult Life Stressors (Chapter 7). In Family assessment handbook (4th Edition) (pp. 125-144). Cengage Learning.
  • Rubin, A., & Bellamy, J. (2012). Steps in the EBP process (Chapter 2). In Practitioner’s Guide to Using Research for Evidence-Based Practice (pp. 28-49). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  • Bannink, F. P. (2007). Solution-focused brief therapy. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 37, 87-94.
  • Gambrill, E. (2013). Evidence-Based Practice: A Decision-Making Process and Philosophy (Chapter 9). In Social work practice: A critical thinker’s guide (3rd Edition) (pp. 186-200). Oxford University Press.
  • Singer, J. B. (Host). (2011, March 9). The Process of Evidence-Based Practice: Interview with Danielle E. Parrish, Ph.D. (Episode 65) [Audio podcast episode]. In Social Work Podcast. Blogspot.
  • Gambrill, E. (2013). Critical Thinking: Integral to Evidence-based Practice (Chapter 5). In Social work practice: A critical thinker’s guide (3rd Edition) (pp. 94-114).  Oxford University Press
  • Myer, R. A., & Conte, C. (2006). Assessment for crisis intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 62, 959-970.
  • Turner, K. (2009). Mindfulness: The present moment in clinical social work. Clinical Social Work Journal, 37, 95-103.

Brief Interventions and Theparies

"Brief therapy (BT) “refers to a family of therapeutic interventions in which the practitioner deliberately limits both the goals and the duration of the contact.”

Source:  Greene, G.  The Brief Therapies. Encyclopedia of Social Work. Oxford University Press.

Family Interventions

Some Evidence-Based Family Interventions:

  • Franklin, C., & Hopson, L. (2008). Family Therapy. In Encyclopedia of Social Work. : Oxford University Press:
  • Chapter 7, Family-Centered Interventions for Coping with Difficult Life Stressors.  Family Assessment Handbook.  Focuses on trauma, sexual abuse, intimate partner violence.

These interventions are identified in Family Assessment Handbook

  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy
  • Multisystemic Therapy
  • Multidimensional Family Therapy
  • Functional Family Therapy (FFT)
  • The Incredible Years
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy
  • Parent Management Training (PMT)
  • Family Psychoeducation

Group Interventions

SSWG 5102 Readings (access via Canvas)

  • Greene, R.R. & Schriver, J. M. (2017). Human Behavior and the Social Environment Theory: Social Work Practice with Groups (Chapter 7). In Handbook of Human Behavior and the Social Environment (pp. 139-155). Routledge.
  • Yalom, I. & Leszcz, M. (2020). The Therapeutic Factors (Chapter 1). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy 6th Edition). Basic Books.
  • Yalom, I. & Leszcz, M. (2020). Interpersonal Learning (Chapter 2). The theory and practice of group psychotherapy (6th Edition). Basic Books.
  • Zorzella, K. P. M., Muller, R. T., & Classen, C. C. (2014). Trauma group therapy: The role of attachment and therapeutic alliance.  International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, 64(1), 25-47.
  • MacNair-Semands, R. (2010). Preparing members to fully participate in group therapy. In 101 Interventions in group psychotherapy (pp. 403-408). Routledge.