DePinto, Lauren

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  • Publication
    The Attuned School Clinician: An Advanced Clinical Practice Curriculum in Attachment Informed School-Based Mental Health for Social Workers
    (2022-02-21) DePinto, Lauren
    As the educational landscape in our country continues to transform and the mental health needs of our youth increases, so have the domains and demands of school social work practice. One of the most influential advancements impacting school social work has been the expansion of school-based mental health (SBMH) programs and services. This dissertation calls attention to the growing clinical role social workers play in the delivery of direct mental health services in schools. A review of the literature suggests it is timely and necessary to introduce content specific to SBMH into the social work curriculum to adequately meet the requisite needs of current MSW students entering the field. Additionally, this dissertation aims to develop an advanced clinical practice course for second-year MSW students that is grounded in the principles of attachment theory and introduces an empirically supported theoretical framework that extends a developmental and applied way of thinking, observing, examining, and interpreting behaviors in school-based clinical practice settings. This proposed advanced clinical practice course is designed to strengthen clinical practice skills and expand upon the foundations of school social work. The primary educational objectives of this course aim to introduce, broaden, and deepen students' understanding of attachment theory as a developmental framework for relationship-focused clinical school social work practice and is intended to cultivate and shape the reflective professional identity of the attuned school clinician. Course content introduced and discussed will include: the historical context of school-based mental health, the current state of SBMH and the expansion of school social work; attachment theory as a framework for relational and reflective clinical school social work practice; attachment and emotional development in the classroom; reflective practice and the shaping of professional identity; clinician secure base reflection. Keywords: school-based mental health, clinical school social work, attachment theory, relationships, reflective practice, social work education, curriculum development