Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


School social work, Cooperativeness, Social service-Teamwork, Trust, Collaboration, Teamwork, Interdisciplinary practice, Ecological perspective, Organizational trust


School social work is part of social work's historical commitment to seeing people as well as the systems and environments they exist in, but much of today's school social work practice focuses on the clinical treatment of individual emotional and social problems. With growing needs and fewer resources, school social work must find ways of impacting more students through ecologically-informed practice that affects multiple levels of the school environment. Interdisciplinary collaborative practice can be a powerful way to foster ecological change by involving other staff in the effort to craft a stronger school system. In this study, 11 social workers currently practicing in urban, suburban, and rural school settings in western New England were interviewed in order to learn about their collaborative activities, practice goals, and perceived barriers to teamwork. Their reports were analyzed using grounded theory methodology to develop common descriptive themes. Findings indicated a wide range of collaborative tasks being undertaken by school social workers at various ecological levels. Of all factors that affect collaborative practice, the degree of relational trust between social workers and their colleagues seemed most significant. Social workers in schools may be choosing clinical service approaches based on the need to develop and maintain trustful, reliable relationships with their colleagues, and that this may be inhibiting the scope of their practice. Hypotheses for further inquiry and implications for school social work scholarship are offered.




iii, 109 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 97-103)