Foundation cluster modules examine the meta-analytical skills that case study knowledge production and advanced clinical practice requires. Philosophy of mind prepares students to link mind/body debates to their case: psychopharmacology, meditation interventions, body movement interventions, neuroscience. How does one think about the possible ways that psychosocial interventions affect brain/body/mind? How do we argue interactional affects?

Critical neuroscience investigates the assumptions of neurobiology and how these articulate with social work. “It examines the ways in which the new sciences and technologies of the brain lead to classifying people in new ways, and the effects this can have on social and personal life. It studies both the methods used to gain new knowledge, and the ways in which the knowledge is interpreted and used” (

Philosophy of science examines how clinical interventions suppose specific ontological and epistemological commitments. Does one, for example, assume the existence of an unconscious? If so, why? If not, why? What constitutes a causal argument? What are the limits and potentials of using case studies to make causal arguments?

Phenomenology develops a critical perspective of medical diagnostic assumptions (i.e., DSM) and focuses upon the subjective experience of mental suffering, thus giving emphasis to the value social work places on the idea of “starting where the client is.”  The ‘is’ points to the nature of the client’s disturbance and assumes that ‘listening to’– instead of ‘listening for’ pre-loaded diagnostic categories—is foundational to social work practice. Narrative theory recognizes the role and structure of language and talk in clinical interventions. How does narrative theory relate to clinical theory? If cognitive interventions result in cognitive reframing, how is this understood within and outside of narrative theory? So-called ‘talk therapies’ make particular ontological and epistemological commitments to narrative theory and is the reason the latter is essential for developing meta-analytic understandings of clinical work.

Foundation Module Clusters:

  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Critical Neuroscience
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Phenomenology
  • Narrative Theory