Generalist Approach

Augsburg College social work faculty, students, and graduates dedicate ourselves to helping those who are most in need, who are most vulnerable, and whose social and economic welfare is most threatened. To that end, our faculty has defined generalist social work practice as a model of ethical and effective helping based on the eco-systems perspective using problem-solving strategies and practice skills requiring a strengths perspective and cultural competency to serve individuals, families, groups, organizations or communities.

This model emphasizes respect for client self-determination and use of client strengths with empowerment as an expected client system outcome. This practice model provides a framework for assessment, intervention and change at multiple levels from personal to global. The dual goals of Augsburg’s generalist practice model are to address private troubles and to address the public issues that underlie them, especially poverty, oppression, and injustice. To meet these dual goals, Augsburg students become skilled in direct practice as well as policy practice. In the classroom and in the field, we apply the generalist practice model to the wide range of difficulties people face with awareness of both assets and vulnerabilities within the person, their culture and their community. The generalist model of social work practice assists practitioners in establishing collaborative relationships with people who use our services and other constituents.

Students learn a sequential and collaborative process for identifying strengths and stresses, mutually setting goals, negotiating tasks, searching for an array of possible solutions and resources, implementing a plan of action, watching for barriers or by-passes, evaluating how helpful the work has actually been and adjusting the plan or agreement to better reach client goals. Issues related to the setting of practice, whether public or private, large agency orsmall, are commonly explored within the generalist practice model because it does not presume a particular setting or specialty.

Finally, a generalist practitioner will use investigation and research skills to inform and improve practice.
Augsburg’s generalist practice model is both individual and contextual, both local and global, both personal and social. Our practice model assumes that clients experience strengths and barriers, failures and successes. In the end clients can marshal their strengths while taking formative action towards their goals.