Testing Interactional Social Work Theory

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This investigation used multiple regression in a cross-lagged panel analysis to test Interactional Social Work (ISW) theory in a challenging replication. ISW is a causal model of change which asserts that workers' practice skills help create positive working relationships, which are the medium through which workers influence practice outcomes. The empirical support for ISW theory comes from research using cross-sectional designs. This replication used a longitudinal design to expose Interactional Social Work theory to causal tests of association, temporal order, and independence. The replication varied the focus of social work supervision governing supervised practice with 161 clients in a community mental health setting, and examined the causal order among skills and relationships of supervised practice and client outcomes over time. The findings support, alter, and introduce links in the chain of Interactional Social Work theory.