The Nine CSWE Social Work Competencies (2023)

The Nine CSWE Social Work Competencies

The nine social work competencies are listed below. Each competency describes the knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes that comprise the competency at the generalist level of practice, followed by a set of behaviors that integrate these components. These behaviors represent observable components of the competencies, while the preceding statements represent the underlying content and processes that inform the behaviors.

Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

Social workers understand the value base of the profession and its ethical standards, as well as relevant laws and regulations that may impact practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Social workers understand ethical decision-making frameworks and how to apply principles of critical thinking to those frameworks in practice, research, and policy arenas. Social workers recognize personal values and the distinction between personal and professional values. They also understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions influence their professional judgment and behavior. Social workers understand the profession's history, its mission, and the roles and responsibilities of the profession. Social Workers also understand the role of other professions when engaged in inter-professional teams. Social workers recognize the importance of lifelong learning and continually update their skills to ensure relevant and practical. Social workers also understand emerging forms of technology and their ethical use in social work practice.

Social workers:

  • make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to the context;
  • use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situations;
  • demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication;
  • use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes; and
  • use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior.

Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice

Social workers understand how diversity and difference characterize and shape the human experience and are critical to the formation of identity. The dimensions of diversity are understood as the intersectionality of multiple factors, including but not limited to age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status. Social workers understand that, as a consequence of difference, a person's life experiences may include oppression, poverty, marginalization, alienation, privilege, power, and acclaim. Social workers also understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination and recognize how a culture's structures and values, including social, economic, political, and cultural exclusions, may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create privilege and power.

Social workers:

  • apply and communicate an understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels;
  • present themselves as learners and engage clients and constituencies as experts of their own experiences; and
  • apply self-awareness and self-regulation to manage the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse clients and constituencies.

Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice

Social workers understand that every person, regardless of position in society, has fundamental human rights such as freedom, safety, privacy, an adequate standard of living, health care, and education. Social workers understand the global interconnections of oppression and human rights violations. They are knowledgeable about theories of human need and social justice and strategies to promote social and economic justice and human rights. Social workers understand systems designed to eliminate oppressive structural barriers to ensure that social goods, rights, and responsibilities are distributed equitably and that civil, political, environmental, economic, social, and cultural human rights are protected. Social workers:7 8 2015 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards SOCIAL WORK COMPETENCIES

Social workers:

  • apply their understanding of social, economic, and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels; and
  • engage in practices that advance social, economic, and environmental justice.

Competency 4: Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice

Social workers understand quantitative and qualitative research methods and their respective roles in advancing the science of social work and in evaluating their practice. Social workers know the principles of logic, scientific inquiry, and culturally informed and ethical approaches to building knowledge. Social workers understand that evidence that informs practice derives from multi-disciplinary sources and multiple ways of knowing. They also understand the processes for translating research findings into effective practice.

Social workers:

  • use practice experience and theory to inform scientific inquiry and research;
  • apply critical thinking to engage in analysis of quantitative and qualitative research methods and research findings; and
  • use and translate research evidence to inform and improve practice, policy, and service delivery.

Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice

Social workers understand that human rights and social justice, and social welfare and services are mediated by policy and its implementation at the federal, state, and local levels. Social workers understand the history and current structures of social policies and services, the role of policy in service delivery, and the role of practice in policy development. Social workers recognize and understand the historical, social, cultural, economic, organizational, environmental, and global influences that affect social policy. They are also knowledgeable about policy formulation, analysis, implementation, and evaluation. Social settings at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. They actively engage in policy practice to effect change within those settings.

Social workers:

  • identify social policy at the local, state, and federal levels that impact the well-being,service delivery, and access to social services;
  • assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services;
  • apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice.

Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social workers understand that engagement is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers value the importance of human relationships. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to facilitate engagement with clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand strategies to engage diverse clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness.

Social workers:

  • apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-inenvironment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks to engage with clientsand constituencies; and
  • use empathy, reflection, and interpersonal skills to effectively engage diverse clients and constituencies.

Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities

Social workers understand that assessment is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand knowledge in assessing diverse clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand assessment methods with various clients and constituencies to advance practice effectiveness. Social workers recognize the implications of the larger practice context in the assessment process and value the importance of interprofessional collaboration in this process. Social workers understand how their personal experiences and affective reactions may affect their assessment and decision-making.

Social workers:

  • collect and organize data, and apply critical thinking to interpret information from clients and constituencies;
  • apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-inenvironment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the analysis of assessment data from clients and constituencies;
  • develop mutually agreed-on intervention goals and objectives based on the critical assessment of strengths, needs, and challenges within clients and constituencies; and
  • select appropriate intervention strategies based on the assessment, research knowledge, and values and preferences of clients and constituencies.

Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, andCommunities

Social workers understand that intervention is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers are knowledgeable about evidence-informed interventions to achieve the goals of clients and constituencies, including individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment and critically evaluate and apply this knowledge to effectively intervene with clients and constituencies. Social workers understand methods of identifying, analyzing, and implementing evidenceinformed interventions to achieve client and constituency goals. Social workers value the importance of interprofessional teamwork and communication in interventions, recognizing that beneficial outcomes may require interdisciplinary, interprofessional, and inter-organizational

Social workers:

  • critically choose and implement interventions to achieve practice goals and enhance the capacities of clients and constituencies;
  • apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-inenvironment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in interventions with clients and constituencies;
  • use inter-professional collaboration as appropriate to achieve beneficial practice outcomes;
  • negotiate, mediate, and advocate with and on behalf of diverse clients and constituencies; and
  • facilitate effective transitions and endings that advance mutually agreed-on goals.

Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations,and Communities

Social workers understand that evaluation is an ongoing component of the dynamic and interactive process of social work practice with, and on behalf of, diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. Social workers recognize evaluating processes and outcomes to advance practice, policy, and service delivery effectiveness. Social workers understand theories of human behavior and the social environment and assess critically and apply this knowledge in evaluating outcomes. Social workers understand qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating outcomes and practice effectiveness.

Social workers:

  • select and use appropriate methods for evaluation of outcomes;
  • apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment, person-inenvironment, and other multidisciplinary theoretical frameworks in the evaluation of outcomes;
  • critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate intervention and program processes and outcomes; and
  • apply evaluation findings to improve practice effectiveness at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels
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