Last updated November 5, 2015
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Social Work Practice in Child Welfare

The Interactional Model

Lawrence Shulman, MSW, EdD, is professor emeritus and former dean, University at Buffalo School of Social Work. He is a practitioner–researcher who has developed the interactional model of practice and supervision, building on the foundation work of William Schwartz.

Shulman is widely used as a trainer and consultant on direct practice with individuals, families, and groups; supervision and administration; field instruction; child welfare; and teaching. His research has focused on operationalizing and testing skills for helping professionals at all levels of an organization or agency. He has also explored the impact of contextual factors such as agency policy, cost-containment efforts, caseload size, staff stress, job manageability, and traumatic events on the caseload to develop a grounded, holistic model.

Shulman has written or edited 20 books and monographs, including books on supervision and management and a widely used social work practice text, The Skills of Helping Individuals, Families, Groups, and Communities, now in its eighth edition (Cengage Publishers). He has also authored Dynamics and Skills of Group Counseling (Cengage Publishers, 2010), which presents the interactional and mutual aid model for group practice.

His research results are reported in Interactional Social Work Practice: Toward an Empirical Theory and in a number of published articles. He authored the Supervision section in the last three editions of the Encyclopedia of Social Work and has been a contributor to The Social Work Dictionary. Shulman is on the editorial boards of six major journals, was the coeditor of The Clinical Supervisor, and has published often in professional journals. He was also the cofounder and cochair of the National Institute on Drug Abuse–funded International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Clinical Supervision (2004 to 2009).

He currently directs a School Violence Prevention program at a school in the inner city of Buffalo funded by the New York State Department of Education. He continues to write and provides workshops on child welfare practice, the skills of helping, group work, and supervision and management.

In 2014 he received the Council on Social Work Education Significant Lifetime Achievement Award in Social Work Education for dedication to excellence in scholarship and research, pedagogy and curriculum development, and organizational leadership.