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In the Field A Guide for the Social Work Practicum



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This is the 2nd edition with a publication date of 6/28/2011.

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  • In the Field : A Real-Life Survival Guide for the Social Work Internship
    In the Field : A Real-Life Survival Guide for the Social Work Internship


In the Field: A Real-Life Survival Guide for the Social Work Internshiphelps students prepare for entering their first field placement, and enforces the fact that co-workers, supervisors, and life experiences have much to offer. Students will see in this guide that going into a new and unknown environment can result in missteps or mistakes, but this text's ideas, examples, and orientations can serve as a guide to beginning a rewarding and successful career. This book is geared to the student and their struggles beginning their practicum.

Author Biography

William A. Danowski, LCSW, attended New York University School of Social Work. He later transferred to Adelphi University where he completed his degree in Social Work. In his professional career he has worked with individuals suffering from mental illness, homeless persons, and populations that have no health insurance. During this time, Mr. Danowski supervised social work students from both graduate and under graduate programs in the metropolitan area of NYC. He has worked as a direst care social worker, supervising social worker, and agency director. Currently, he is working as a hospital administrator, focusing on standards compliance. His teaching career began at Mercy College as an adjunct professor and currently at Dominican College as coordinator of Field Work Instruction.

Table of Contents







Introduction: Before You Embark On Your Journey

Chapter 1: Making the Leap from Theory to Real Life

Chapter 2: Ethics

Chapter 3: Beginning at the Beginning

Chapter 4: Staying the Course—Routines

Chapter 5: Navigating the Hazards

Chapter 6: Saying Goodbye







Introduction: Before You Embark On Your Journey

How to get the most from this book

Twenty skills you will learn

Do your homework

Placement Interview Questions

Elephant in the room

Preparing Your Attitudes

You Will Make Mistakes

Disagreements with Your Supervisor

Stay Out of Controversies That Don’t Concern You

Assessing Your Self

Building Your Professional Wardrobe

The Not So Average Social Work Student

House Rules


Personal Technology Usage

Transporting Clients

Supervision, Placements, and Support from the College

Learning Contracts


Chapter 1: Making the Leap from Theory to Real Life

Your Mental Health First-aid Kit

Time management


Mistakes: Errors of technique vs.  Errors of the heart

Paper Work

Group Notes and Meetings

Recording Errors

Process recordings


Chapter 2: Ethics

Ethics Demystified Social Work Ethics

Ethical Thinking

Confidentiality Issues in Agencies

Family Contact: Appropriate and Inappropriate


Chapter 3: Beginning at the Beginning

Emotional Readiness: Standing in the Rain

The First Day

Understanding Your Client

Open-ended Questions

Getting Comfortable with Your Client

Student Safety

Leaving Space

Becoming the Least Motivated Person in the Room


Learning to Tolerate Ambiguity and Ambivalence

Learning to Trust and Use Your Feelings

Paying attention to your body

Care and Feeding of On-Site Supervisors Macro Experiences


Chapter 4: Staying the Course—Routines

Team and Agency as Systems

Multi-Cultural Interview and Culture Competence


Seeing the Big Picture

Coloring in the Picture


Chapter 5: Navigating the Hazards

Stress and Anxiety

Transference and Counter-transference

Helpless and Hopeless: Bad Feelings or Good Feelings?

Three Common Mistakes:

Uncomfortable topics

Gimmicks and props


Chapter 6: Saying Goodbye


Your Termination          

Client Termination        

Staff and the Agency Termination

Focus Group Suggested Learning Elements

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