Working on Treatment Teams: Educating Social Work Students to Function as Addiction Specialists within Interdisciplinary Groups


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Social workers specializing in the addictions field invariably work with multiple disciplines. Any intervention must be organized in consideration of various fields of practice such as mental health, criminal justice, child welfare, and health care. As part of their education, social workers become adept at understanding the influence of factors associated with physical, mental, and social functioning. Thus, they learn to appreciate the need for interdisciplinary collaboration. However, once students become practitioners, they are often left on their own to solidify their specific role as addiction specialists among several other professionals. Working as a member of an interdisciplinary team can be taught in the classroom. The authors apply Bronstein’s model for team collaboration to build a method for teaching interdisciplinary work specific to the role of the addiction specialist. Within the interdisciplinary team model, students take on the various team roles and decide the importance of these roles in a substance use case study. They are taught how to assess, diagnose, identify appropriate evidence-based methods, build client objectives and goals, solidify concrete action plans, and evaluate effectiveness. As these methods have yet to be researched in the classroom, the authors offer recommendations for evaluation and future research.

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