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Relationship Between Training Availability and Social Workers' Ability to Treat Problem Drinkers

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Education Volume: 37 Issue: 2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 163-175
Marchette A. Richardson Ph.D.
Date Published
13 pages
This study was designed to examine the availability and type of alcohol related curriculum and field placement opportunities contained within MSW programs throughout the State of New York for the purpose of determining if there is a gap in what social workers are being taught and what they need to know to be successful with alcohol abusing clients.
An examination of the overall findings suggest that Masters level coursework at schools of social work in New York State may not be effectively preparing students for practice with clients who have alcohol problems. All of the study subjects who reported completing an alcohol related course acknowledged being exposed to experiential teaching techniques. This is fortunate because data collected for the study demonstrates that the greater the numbers of experiential teaching techniques subjects were exposed to the more willing they were to work with problem drinkers and the higher their levels of alcohol related knowledge. A little more than a quarter of the sample reported completing an alcohol related field placement. The results are consistent with past research establishing that mental health practitioners who had higher levels of alcohol related knowledge demonstrated greater familiarity with the subject, were better able to diagnose clients with drinking problems, and were more willing to work with them. Although past researchers have identified a need for social workers to receive formal training in alcohol studies, little documentation exists regarding the curricula opportunities provided to social work students during the completion of their college programs. In this study, an explanatory cross sectional investigation was employed to assess how well masters’ level social work (MSW) programs in the State of New York prepared students for practice with problem drinkers. Five hundred and fifty questionnaires were mailed to members of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). A non-probability sample of 41 males and 48 females was obtained. Tables, references