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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Joseph A. Kumi
SOC W 566
Seattle Campus

Health and Mental Health Methods

Focus on a variety of specialized social work practice roles in such health and mental health fields as addiction and grief and loss. Emphasis is given to advanced skills and knowledge for specialized expertise. Offered: WSp.

Class Description

Multicultural Mental Health Practice grapples with multiple challenging issues pervasive within mental health service design and delivery systems that are often informed by paradigms of knowledge and practice proven problematic in their general application in our increasingly diverse society. Issues include: The uncritical acceptance of practice formulations and procedures that endanger the social justice purposes of social work practice, as well as the human rights of consumers of social work services; preoccupation with individual etiology within an illness model; problematic conceptualizations of culture; a narrow view of multiculturalism that results in focusing on race and ethnicity to the relative exclusion of other significant factors such as poverty, social inequalities, gender biases and heterosexism, and a-historical explanatory models that discount the cumulative risks of chronic marginalization and oppression.

Given these deficiencies it is not surprising that mental health services have a checkered record in regard to meeting the needs of many in our society. This situation demands new models of mental health practice based on alternative and bold perspectives on both the nature of mental health needs and their resolution. Increased understanding of the political, economic, cultural, social and psychological factors involved in the perpetuation of discrimination and oppression experienced by individuals, families, groups and communities is of utmost importance in forging new directions in mental health practice

Soc W 566-A therefore seeks to critically examine the knowledge and practices associated with multicultural mental health practice. The course is based on a commitment to social justice in empowering social work practice, respect for cultures and peoples and their strengths, and promoting habits of reflexive living and practice. Soc W 566-A seeks to advance the social justice mission of the School of Social Work and the social work profession through assisting students in mastering the diverse perspectives, knowledge, competencies and skills needed for empowering and collaborative mental health practice with under- and poorly served individuals and communities. The course also seeks to hone critical and analytical skills with respect to prevailing and alternative paradigms of mental health, as well as sharpen students’ professional values and ethics and their applications in multiethnic practice.

At the end of this course, students will be able to critically examine and understand:

1. The relationship of multicultural mental health practice to social work’s commitment to social justice and the profession’s values and purposes;

2. Selected aspects of the policy context of mental health practice, with specific reference to how such policies affect the services available to marginalized communities and individuals;

3. The DSM nosology and its limitations in regards to multicultural mental health practice;

4. Multiculturalism, cultural sensitivity and the essentialized constructions that may provide their foundational knowledge;

5. Help-seeking patterns and obstacles to service usage in marginalized populations;

6. Migration, social change and socio-cultural adaptation and their implications for mental health practice; 7. Selected illustrative “case” studies of multicultural mental health practice; and

8. Ethical issues in multiethnic mental health practice.

Soc W 566-A is a graduate seminar course that blends lecture content with class discussion and student presentations. As such, students are expected to attend all class sessions, prepare for each class session by completing the assigned readings, and participate in class discussions. Freirean principles of empowering education provide the educational philosophy for the course and all class participants are expected to be both teachers and learners in a climate of respect for differences and openness to critical challenge and uncertainty.

Students are encouraged to form reading and discussion cooperatives to handle course readings and other interests. For example, students in such a cooperative may take responsibility for different readings and share reading notes.

Recommended preparation

Second year graduate standing that includes prior clinical experience with individuals, groups and families in either a hospital, school, community mental health agency or some other behavioral health setting. Advanced year practice courses that build upon and advance foundation year content in the HUB, micro and macro practice/HBSE sequences, foundation practicum, and policy, diversity and research courses. In addition, such practice courses have extended knowledge and skills gained in other areas of the advanced curriculum, including policy and services content and related practice and knowledge courses, as well as the advanced practicum. Or students may be allowed enrollment with prior approval of instructor.

Class Assignments and Grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Joseph A. Kumi
Date: 02/14/2005