Faculty Perceptions of Service User Involvement in Human Services Education

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Social work curricula across the United States lacks service user involvement in the education of social workers, despite the trademark of the profession being service user-oriented. Social work education in the United States requires a four-year undergraduate degree, or a two-year graduate degree, in social work. Both undergraduate and graduate social work degrees require students to complete internship hours (a minimum of 450 hours at the undergraduate level and a minimum of 900 hours at the graduate level) working with individuals, families, groups, communities and/or organizations, with the goal of enabling and encouraging the application of social work-related knowledge, skills and values covered during classroom instruction (theory) within real-life settings (practice). For many students, the internship serves as the first encounter with service users of social service organizations, meaning they may have little to no understanding of service user experiences, or the skills needed to work collaboratively with service users, prior to this point in their academic careers.

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