Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Graduate Courses

SOWK 632: Clinical Social Work with Older Adults

Credit Hours



The focus of this course is on specialized practice with an aging clientele. It is an advanced-level course, and the curriculum includes a review of the basic concepts of gerontology/geriatric practice, mental health issues, and interventions. The content of the course is intended to challenge students to move beyond basic levels of knowledge. It is intended to help students adapt social work theory (person-in-environment), practice principles, standards, and values to practice with older adults.  

This course includes a critical analysis of the theoretical underpinnings of gerontological thought and assists students to view aging through multiple perspectives, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, developmental process, social construction, and disease models. Examination of the physiological, psychological, and sociological phenomena serves to highlight the numerous factors which influence societal and individual perceptions of aging. These areas of study consider the influences of ethnicity, culture, economics, demographics, physical challenges, gender, and sexual orientation.

Social work practice and treatment issues are identified to help students to develop assessment skills and interventions for working with older clients and their families with diverse needs.  Special attention is given to approaches for those clients with specific disabilities. Concrete service delivery and policy implementation are addressed in addition to individual, small group, and family treatment techniques. Students learn the process of using selection criteria and expectations for particular outcomes as they learn to choose among intervention options. A strong interdisciplinary orientation is emphasized with special foci on law and medicine. They are encouraged to set realistic goals and address the problems of aging adults in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner.

Sample Syllabus