Loyola University Chicago

School of Social Work

Mental Health Specialization

The Mental Health specialization focuses is on persons of all ages who are coping with stressful situations related to a physical and/or mental illness or disability, as well as on the support systems that are significant for those persons (families, residential care staff, etc.). While there is a particular focus on illness and disability, both functional and physical, the content of this cluster is also concerned with all who seek growth in bio psychosocial functioning through dealing with personal and environmental obstacles to fulfilling life choices and aspirations, and who desire to cope more adequately with stressful situations in their life context.

There is also an emphasis on health and mental health services, which adequately responds to the needs of the physically and mentally ill as well as those with ongoing physical challenges or disabilities. Students are prepared to work in inpatient and outpatient health and mental health agency settings.

This advanced clinical practice content prepares social workers for multiple roles, including conducting and/or participating in the bio-psycho-social diagnostic process as well as planning, implementation, and evaluation of practice. Social workers often function as a part of a team with professionals from other disciplines. 

Mental Health advanced practice presupposes a similar knowledge base and related competencies as they apply to the domain of mental health. This practice can include additional fields of study as: long-term treatment of individuals with personality disorder, outpatient treatment of individuals, families, and groups, psychosocial treatment of severe mental illness, mental retardation, substance abuse, family violence, as well as psychosocial aspects of medication management, care and needs of the elderly, and psychosocial rehabilitation.

 The curriculum is as follows:

  • Student will take the section of SOWK 610H (Social Policy in Practice), which will aid them in developing their area of focus in Mental Health.
  • Students can then choose between taking SOWK 616 (Psychotherapy with Adults) or SOWK 617 (Principles and Interventions in Clinical Social Work). Oftentimes students will take both courses with one fulfilling the requirement and the other counting as an elective.
  • Students will also need to take SOWK 604 (Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups) or SOWK 612 (Family Assessment and Intervention).
  • Students focusing in the Mental Health area are encouraged to take at least two electives focusing on social work practice models related to the populations they intend to serve (e.g., Treatment of Adults, Treatment of Severely Mentally Ill Clients, Treatment of Adolescents). These courses will ensure that students are familiarized with the DSM, have some experiencing assessing clients, and opportunities to develop appropriate interventions.
  • The students choose a second year internship with their area of focus in mind and use the internships to integrate curriculum content.

Elective Recommendations

  • SOWK 603: Seminar in Brief Treatment
  • SOWK 615: Adolescent Client - Diagnosis and Treatment
  • SOWK 620: Clinical Social Work with Children
  • SOWK 626: Issues in the Treatment of Persons with Severe Mental Illness
  • SOWK 632: Clinical Social Work with Older Adults
  • SOWK 645: Crisis Intervention
  • SOWK 656: Social Work Practice with LGBTQ Populations
  • SOWK 670: Bridging Psychodynamic Theory and Cognitive Behavioral Practice
  • SOWK 722: Introduction to Alcohol and Other Drug Disorders

Subspecialization