Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Davis, Thomas


Historically, the field of social work has implemented a bio-psycho-social perspective to conceptualize mental illness, and to further investigate how biological, psychological and social factors contribute to client circumstances. Although, the biopsychosocial model aims to emphasize all three areas, in social work, psycho-social realms receive more attention while biological factors—particularly neurological ones receive less. Research and recent findings from neuroscience can enhance social work’s understanding of mental health and improve education, training and practice. However, very limited literature of cross-disciplinary collaborations between social work and neuroscience exists and the rationale for that is unclear. This study seeks to fill this gap and identify factors/barriers that hinder such process and encourage the field of social work to incorporate neuroscience research.

This study assessed forty-nine social work student’s (n= 49) opinions about integrating neuroscience into social work education and evaluated the level of knowledge social work students have in the area of neuroscience. The quantitative findings indicated that social work students recognized the value of neuroscience research in the subjects of childhood trauma, human behavior, substance use and psychotherapy. In addition, social work students reported high levels of interest, perceived benefits for career success and overall advantages about learning neuroscience material. Conversely, findings also revealed that social work students perceived this integration as difficult, overwhelming and requiring too much effort. Which could help further understand the resistance of social work to incorporate such material and thus, allow future research to build upon this study. Overall, the discoveries of this project allowed for a fair assessment of social work student opinions on the subject matter, prompted further research and brought awareness to the topic.

Included in

Social Work Commons