Toward Building a Culture of Strengths in U.S. MSW Programs

Linda Plitt Donaldson, Barbara P. Early, Min-Ling Wang


Social work has embraced the strengths perspective as a vital part of micro, mezzo, and macro practice. Yet the authors’ experience suggests that the medical model of deficits, disease, and disorder remains the dominant paradigm. This exploratory study sought to determine how and to what extent strengths-based practice is integrated into the MSW practice curriculum. Forty-four (44) of 181 programs responded to a 12-item web-based survey. Quantitative and qualitative responses indicate an almost universal awareness of and attention to integrating strengths-based content. However, a smaller number of programs appear to be looking beyond curriculum content towards the creation of a broader culture of strengths. Even so, challenges remain toward overcoming a pathological orientation in social work practice curricula.


Social work education, strengths, assets, social work practice, culture of strengths

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Copyright (c) 2009 Linda Plitt Donaldson, Barbara P. Early, Min-Ling Wang


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