Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Lance T. Peterson


Social Work


This research study explores graduate social workers’ self-perceived competence in couples work. While literature on this topic is sparse, previous studies have indicated that graduate social work programs lack adequate incorporation of couples work material into their curricula. As a result, social work students are graduating with little confidence in their ability to be couples therapists. The current study consisted of an online survey, which was emailed to licensed graduate social workers in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Information collected by the survey included demographic characteristics of respondents and their graduate school experiences, such as coursework and internship(s). Results showed that respondents believed their graduate training could have better prepared them for couples work, and that the majority of their couples work experience was gained after graduating with their MSWs. Implications for future research based on these results include closer analysis of how graduate social work programs can be improved to provide students with more couples work experience, comparing graduate curricula and students’ competency ratings over time to assess programs’ progress in incorporating more couples work material, and investigating specific reasons why graduate social workers do not feel competent in couples work and how they believe these reasons should be addressed.

Included in

Social Work Commons