Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


School social work, Social workers, Ecological theory, Multilevel practice, School social workers


The National Association of Social Works standards for school social workers [SSWs] urges SSWS to engage in ecologically informed practice interventions that affect both individual students and the multiple levels of the school environment. Despite this recommendation, survey literature indicates that SSWs spend most of their time using individual interventions to affect students' well being. This qualitative study explores the perspectives of current SSWs to gain a deeper understanding of how they think about and implement multilevel practice. In particular, this study explores SSWs' perceptions of the barriers to increased engagement in multilevel practice. Six currently practicing social workers practicing in urban and suburban settings across United States were interviewed to gain a better understanding of the perceived goals for their work, daily practice activities, understanding of multilevel practice, implementation of multilevel practice and perceived barriers to varying practice activities. Findings indicate that school social workers engage in highly varied practice activities in their various school settings. While few participants expressed an understanding of multilevel practice, all SSWs expressed receptivity to this type of practice. Perceived barriers to multilevel practice included SSWs ancillary role in the school setting, inadequate training, and the high demand for individual counseling and crisis intervention. Hypotheses for further inquiry and implications for future school social work scholarship are offered.




iii, 71 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 61-63)