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date: 30 June 2022

Collaborative Practicelocked

Collaborative Practicelocked

  • Hal A. LawsonHal A. LawsonUniversity at Albany, State University of New York
  •  and Catherine S. KramerCatherine S. KramerUniversity at Albany - State University of New York School of Social Welfare


Social workers are prepared to benefit from and provide cross-boundary leadership for several kinds of collaborative, macro practice, all of which are structured to achieve a collective impact. Examples include teamwork, interorganizational partnerships, and community-wide coalitions. All are needed to respond to complicated practice problems, particularly ones characterized by co-occurring and interlocking needs.

A family of “c-words” (e.g., consultation, coordination) is employed in many macro-level initiatives. Collaboration is the most difficult to develop, institutionalize, and sustain because it requires explicit recognition of, and new provisions for, interdependent relationships among participants. Notwithstanding the attendant challenges, collaborative practice increasingly is a requirement in multiple sectors of social work practice, including mental health, substance abuse, school social work, complex, anti-poverty initiatives, international social work, and workforce development. Beyond interprofessional collaboration, new working relationships with service users connect collaborative practice with empowerment theory and are a distinctive feature of social work practice.


  • Clinical and Direct Practice
  • Macro Practice
  • Social Work Profession

Updated in this version

Content and references updated for the Encyclopedia of Macro Social Work.

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