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SWK 4671H – Neuroscience and Social Work Practice - Elective

Offered from Summer 2011

Advances in fields such as neuroscience and allied fields have provided some important new evidence about how we think, feel, learn and change. Applegate and Shapiro (Applegate and Shapiro, 2005) remark that although social work has embraced a biopsychosocial perspective, that the biological side of this tripartite stance is frequently underdeveloped in social work. They argue that the advances in neurosciences and neurobiology need to be introduced into our professional curricula. Farmer (2009) identifies neuroscience as a “missing link” for social work. Social work graduates at the Masters level need to have a good foundation of knowledge about the brain-body and its interconnections. Besides being fundamental knowledge for all social work practice, expertise in this area will foster improved inter-professional communication particularly with those professions in health related areas. This course will appeal especially to students interested in direct practice. No background in the biological sciences is necessary.

Content will include: developing the bio side of the biopsychosocial perspective of social work practice; fundamentals of the brain; the brain-body connection; the social brain; thinking, feeling and acting; memory; emotion as the foundation of reason; the helping relationship from a neuroscience perspective; neuroplasticity; ethics and social justice from a neuroscience perspective; consciousness and the new unconscious; gender and the brain; the profound impact of environment and culture on the brain and human functioning; brain-based learning and social work practice; the neuroscience of psychotherapy, neuropsychotherapy, and interpersonal neurobiology; bonding and attachment; empathy and mirror neurons; a neurodevelopmental view of childhood, and adolescence; trauma and PTSD; aging and neuroscience; neuroscience and addictions, mental health and affect regulation; neural integration; limitations of a neuroscience perspective; new frontiers for neuroscience and social work practice. Hypnosis will be explored and all students will learn how to develop and practice self-hypnosis.