Call for Papers: Clinical Social Workers at Work

Editor in Chief Melissa D. Grady and Guest Editor James W. Drisko

Clinical social workers provide the majority of mental health services in this country. However, there are few opportunities for active practitioners who are not also researchers to share the work they do in the field with others. This special issue of Clinical Social Work Journal will provide a forum for non-research oriented clinical social workers to share the work they do in the field with other practitioners. The aim of this special issue is to provide a platform where clinical social workers who do not normally publish in academic journals can share with others the innovative work they are doing with clients. Each article will be a description of an actual contemporary practice in varied contexts and with various client populations, including services for diverse and underrepresented populations, as well as non-traditional social work practice settings. Through this special issue, we hope to achieve the following: provide a vehicle through which clinical social workers can share their work; offer practitioners, academics, and researchers an opportunity to learn from practice-based experiences; and to encourage more clinical social workers to explore, examine, and share their work with others.

We are looking initially for abstracts (roughly 750 words) that address:

  • Innovative models or techniques of clinical social work practice level, for specific population groups, diagnosis or issues, for specific needs in cases, or systems of service delivery;
  • Adaptions/modifications of practice models and techniques;
  • Novel practice challenges and how these were addressed; or
  • How monitoring, evaluation, and outcome assessment is done in real world clinical practice.

We seek to create a way for real-world clinical social work practitioners to display their views and to inform others. This special issue seeks manuscripts that are well written and clear yet we are open to a variety of methods, techniques, and manuscripts formats. These practice write ups should be accessible – to be of maximum use to other clinical social workers – and practical. Through this call for papers, we seek a range and variety of approaches that reflect contemporary clinical social work practices and why they are needed.  (Please see the outline further down for how each manuscript should be structured if selected.)

From these among these abstracts, we will next select authors to provide full manuscripts (up to 20 pages of text).  We will provide feedback and some editorial assistance.

We do ask that both the strengths and the limitations of practice approaches are addressed. This is to help show how these innovative practices can be implemented in other, similar settings and with similar populations. The focus is on doing contemporary clinical practice.

We are using a two-step process – to be as inclusive of as many practices as possible. Initial abstracts of 750 words maximum must be submitted by September 15, 2022.  We will provide feedback on the abstracts, with selected due by December 15, 2022.

Our hope is that innovations in practice will be a section in upcoming issues of Clinical Social Work Journal and will provide an outlet for other future articles written by practicing clinical social workers.

Abstracts should be mailed to BOTH: Melissa D. Grady and James W. Drisko


Outline for an Article

Special Issue: Clinical Social Workers at Work

Introduction to the Topic/Practice

  • What is your focal issue or need (to be addressed in the article)
    • This could be about the needs of a particular population related to an identity (i.e., age, gender identity, culture), or about a particular clinical issue (i.e., diagnosis or dynamic in a family), or both.
    • Is this a new or changing need? (An assessment or something observed in practice frequently? A new population?  New context?)
    • How did you come to believe that something needed to be done differently in your work?
    • What makes it different from other methods in use?
  • Briefly describe how does this need/issue fit with clinical social work’s purposes and values?  (Our core values include Service, Treating people with dignity and respect, Supporting social justice, The importance of relationships, Integrity, and Competence).

Background of the Issue

  • What is the background of the topic?
  • How were these needs previously serviced
  • What literature was consulted? Share any and all of the literature that was reviewed to provide information used to address the need. 
  • Is there a helpful psychological or developmental theory that helped inform the new service?
  • In other words, what information was used/gathered to clarify the issue and to inform what steps should be taken to address it?
  • Describe then the steps that were taken by you or your agency to develop the intervention/program based on the information you gathered.
    • Were consultants used?  If so, for what concerns?  What did they offer that was useful?
    • Did you work with other colleagues to solidify or finesse your ideas?

The Program/Intervention

  • Describe the intervention/approach with as much detail as possible, which could include:
    • What is the target of this practice?
    • How often are the clients seen (i.e., number of sessions in intervention)?
    • Is it co-led?
    • Length of each session?
    • “Use of self" changes with this approach
  • If this a modification or adaptation of another service?
    • Why was it modified?
    • What specifically did you modify and WHY?
  • Describe some of the logistical processes in implementing the intervention
    • Did you need to train new staff? If so, how was this process?
    • How did you introduce it to your clients?
  • Evaluation
    • How is the success of the program assessed?  (Client satisfaction? Survey of outcomes – and how measured?)?
    • If you have not assessed it, what is the rationale for this choice?

Strengths and Limitations

  • What works well? What has led you to that conclusion?
  • What may need further refinement? Why?
  • What advice for others working with this population? AND/OR What did program staff learn from the process?
  • Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to other clinical social workers?
  • What are your next steps with the intervention/model/program?

We know abstracts may not be able to cover all this – focus on the core content in the abstract.