Social Services Worker - Professional

Social service professionals are able to apply their skills to a wide range of situations. Whether it’s helping families through a crisis or working with victims of trauma, their roles within society are very important.

The Social Services Worker Professional program at Vancouver Career College is designed to prepare graduates for positions throughout the community. Special attention is given to the specific needs of youth, Aboriginals, and people affected by addiction, as these populations tend to be the most marginalized in society. Students will receive focused training on working with youth and those in recovery through practicum placements.

Upon graduation from the Social Services Worker Professional program, students will receive certifications in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST), Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVCI), Medication Administration for Support Workers, and three other certificates.

Admissions Requirements

Students must meet all of the pre-requisites listed below, meet their financial obligations with the college, and acknowledge their understanding of the college’s policies and procedures provided in the student handbook, prior to starting classes.

  • High school graduation or equivalent, or mature student status.
  • Pass college’s admissions test.
  • Criminal record check (in accordance with the Criminal Records Review Act).
  • Immunization report (form provided by college).
  • Complete ‘Student Declaration – Social Services Worker Programs’ form (provided by college). 

Job Opportunities

  • Family Social Service Agencies
  • Group Homes
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Community Mental Health Facilities
  • School Programs
  • Aboriginal Agencies

Program Courses

Code Course description
SSW301O Advocacy and Empowerment of Youth
This course introduces the student to the foundations of advocacy and empowerment for young people. How to lay the groundwork for advocacy is explained as well as ways to build rapport with youth to facilitate effective advocacy. Different strategies based on education components to empower youth while learning through education and personal choices are covered. Finally, how to advocate for effective standards of professions and healthy meaningful programming is explored.
SSW111O Burnout and Self-Care
Helping professionals who work with traumatized or otherwise "at-risk" individuals are at risk themselves for developing secondary traumatic stress. The very qualities that led workers to the social service employment -- compassion and empathy -- are the ones that make workers particularly vulnerable to this. Murphy’s Law and the different types of stress are also brought to the forefront. This course briefly reviews the nature and diagnostic criteria of both post-traumatic stress and secondary post-traumatic stress. The primary focus in this module is practical, hands-on strategies that social service workers can use to prevent burnout and increase self-care.
CES4 Career & Employment Strategies
This course builds on the skills learned in the Student Success Strategies course. It provides information on how to use the communication skills learned in order to make a successful presentation to a prospective employer. Students also learn how to uncover the hidden job market and identify employment opportunities. Self-assessment during this course allows students to identify their personal skills that are transferable to the workplace and to describe these skills to a prospective employer. Students are videotaped during a mock interview and participate in the analysis of their performance in the “interview”.
SSW110O Case Management
This course is designed to give the student an introduction to case management, documentation, and report writing in the social work field. It covers the effects of deinstitutionalization and the importance of the case manager role. Types of recording in this course include process recording and summary recording along with intake summaries. The process behind intake interviews, service delivery planning, building case files, and service coordination are also covered. The course also examines ethical and legal issues giving students an idea of the various areas where competence improves with experience. Various roles in case management such as assessment, intake procedures, outreach, and resources are also covered.
SSW112O Community Resources and Networking
This course is designed to give students some hands-on experience with networking and with assessing and improving their job readiness skills. It is also intended to educate students about the local community agencies and organization (who they serve, what they do, how clients access the services, etc.). This course is not designed to empower students for career readiness. In other words, instructors should not be developing opportunities for students; rather, instructors should be coaching, training, and motivating students to learn how to develop opportunities on their own.
SSW103O Diversity and Social Justice
This course presents diversity from a much broader perspective than just race and ethnicity, exploring a broad spectrum of cultural and diversity issues and their impact on the client-counsellor relationship. Students will have the opportunity to learn from external speakers with expertise in specific communities as well as an opportunity to hone their clinical skills via role-playing.
SSW107O Fundamentals of Addiction
This course is designed to provide students with basic information regarding common drugs and processes of abuse. Furthermore, it's designed to give students some hands-on tools for analyzing addiction as a complex bio-psychosocial model. Included in this course is the etiology of addiction, maintenance and relapse prevention, cross cultural counseling, gender-specific addictions, the psychological models used in addiction, and working on a multidisciplinary addictions treatment team.
SSW108O Fundamentals of Mental Health
This course explores basic questions regarding mental health. It explains the formal diagnostic categories of the DSM-IV-TR, common medications used in pharmacotherapies for mental health concerns, as well as the impact mental health concerns have on the affected individuals. Particular emphasis is placed on community-based interventions and supports for people living with mental health issues as well as the importance of the duty to warn. As one of their module deliverables, students construct personal resource binders of local agencies and organizations that support people coping with mental health. They will be able to refer to these resources for future projects and while on practicum.
SSW2014 Fundamentals of Pharmacology
This subject provides basic drug information including the basic pharmacological nature and effects of a range of psychoactive chemicals. Students will build knowledge relating drug treatments/usage to various body systems and associated states of disease.
SSW106O Fundamentals of Poverty
The course explores the impact poverty has on the individuals who must cope with it as well as the impact on the community as a whole. Particular emphasis is placed on child poverty in Canada as well as de-bunking myths and stereotypes about poverty. Two special topics in poverty are also covered: poverty and homelessness and poverty, and Aboriginals and the impact of the Legacy. The importance of education and occupation is also covered. As one of their module deliverables, students construct personal resource binders of local agencies and organizations that support people coping with poverty. They will be able to refer to these for future projects and while on practicum.
SSW2054 Group Work with Recovering People
This subject will provide the student with an overview of the nature of group work in a social service setting.
IVWO Interviewing Techniques
This subject will assist the student to define communication skills and demonstrate how to use them effectively in many types of situations. A group of core communication skills is essential to any interview, whether it takes place in counselling, nursing, social work, personnel work, or information gathering.
SSW2034 Introduction to Assessment and Intake
This course focuses on developing students’ understanding of the intake and planning processes. This course centers on developing portable and universal “hands-on” skills in interviewing and planning so that our graduates have a solid practical basis from which to start. This module helps the student understand the role of the support worker in intake procedures and treatment planning.
SSW100 Introduction to Social Service Work
This course introduces students to a general overview of the history, systems, and processes of contemporary social service work in Canada. Based on anti-oppressive and strengths-based philosophies, students learn about the diverse and often conflicting requirements of their professional and paraprofessional roles.
SSW101O Introduction to Social Service Work
This course is designed to give the student an introduction to social service work in Canada. Social service workers and allied professionals play a pivotal role in improving the social welfare of individual people and whole communities. These helping professionals do so from a variety of contexts, but from a coherent “strengths-based’ values platform. Students will learn what social services workers do, how they do it, why they do it, and what good it does.
SSW305O Introduction to Youth Justice Issues
This course is designed to give students an overview of the youth justice system of Canada as well as insight into the impact contact with justice system has in the lives of young people. Myths/stereotypes versus the realities of youth crime in Canada are presented. Community-based interventions, rehabilitation, and restorative justice options for youth are explored.
SSW102O Professional Communications for Social Services
This course helps the student understand the basic elements of adult interpersonal communication. All professional communication skills (such as counselling skills, interviewing skills, and so on) are supported by a foundation of adult interpersonal communication. Focusing on the four main areas of communication -- verbal, nonverbal, interpersonal, and group -- the course gives the student opportunities to intensively practice basic communication skills via role-playing, feedback, and other practical exercises.
SSW114O Professional Development
During this module, students earn their certification in First Aid/CPR, ASIST suicide prevention training, and Non-Violent Crisis Intervention (NVCI). Students also learn WHMIS, FoodSafe ®, and Medication Administration for Support Workers.
SSW104O Professional Ethics
This course outlines in depth the counselling process with a focus on the counsellor as a person and as a professional. Emphasis is placed on the stages of counselling, basic counselling skills, attitudes and values of the counsellor, and the importance of the counselling relationship. Some other topics explored include: introduction to professional ethics, self-exploration, integrative approach to counselling, the role of technology in ethics, legal issues and ethics for helpers, working with difficult clients, values and diversity in counselling, ethical relationship issues, boundary issues, managing stress, and self-care.
SSW1054 Psychology
This course is designed to give students an overview of several fundamental concepts in psychology. The purpose is to give students the knowledge and understanding of psychological concepts that can be applied to their chosen field of study. This course provides an introduction to the principals of psychology including human development, motivation, social psychology related topics relevant to community service work.
SSW2044 Relapse Prevention
This subject will provide the student with an understanding of relapse as a natural part of the recovery process. The student will study a range of strategies and techniques to assist in minimizing and preventing the effects of prolonged periods of relapse during the journey of recovery.
SSS4 Student Success Strategies
Students will gain a better understanding of themselves through an exploration of their personal attributes, transferable skills and learning styles. This course will introduce techniques for time, conflict, and stress management and develop interpersonal communication skills. Fundamental study and motivation skills will be covered, preparing students to excel in their program of choice.
SSW109O Working with Families
This course provides students with an introduction to issues frequently encountered when working with families affected by addiction. Drawing on Bowen and Solution-Focussed family therapies, it provides tools that help social service workers understand various family dynamics. Basic strategies for interviewing families are reviewed. The concept of codependency is introduced, both in terms of the family life of clients, and the workers’ own risk for developing codependent behaviours on the job. A basic introduction to working with diverse family groups is provided.
SSW302O Youth and the Social Welfare Systems in Canada
This course is designed to give the student critical insight in to the social category youth and how the boundaries and definitions of youth are socially and historically determined based on the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), the impact of various social systems (justice systems, social services systems, education systems etc.) on youth identity formation is explored, as well as observing the differences in the Young Offenders Act (YOA) and the YCJA. The ways for youth to access social justice in these systems are outlined, as well as examining the growing inequalities around youth.
SSW304O Youth Diversity: Culture and Subculture
This course is designed to give students an overview of the impact of culture and subculture on youth. The specifics issues and needs of immigrant and bi-cultural youth, girls and young women, Aboriginal youth, and LBGTIQ and two-spirited youth are explored. The impact of music, activity, and style subcultures on youth is also investigated.
SSW2064 Youth Issues in Addiction
This course is designed to give students an overview of how addiction impacts the lives of youth. Covers the intergenerational impact of addiction on youth as well as the impact of substances on the bio-psycho-social development of youth is considered. Lastly, the course will look at the different intervention, prevention and treatment strategies or models.
ITC4 (SSW) Introduction to Computers
This course is a broad-based introduction to using a personal computer. It teaches the fundamentals of an operating system and the most popular application software including word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. You will also learn about the internet, web browsers, electronic mail, and antivirus software. The course is based on the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office 2013 and a variety of popular software programs for internet- and security-related applications. Extensive hands-on exercises throughout the course will allow you to practise and reinforce the skills you acquire, while progress check questions at the end of every module will give you the opportunity to test your knowledge of the presented material.
SSW299 SSW Recovery Specialist Practicum
This practicum will place students in actual workplaces related to their field of study with people in recovery, where they are expected to act as a regular employee for the set time periods in order to gain the valuable “real world” experience, often sought by employers who are hiring. Students are encouraged to find their own work experience; however, once placed, continuation in the placement is a mandatory diploma requirement. This practicum is an unpaid work experience.
SSW399 SSW Youth Specialist Practicum
This practicum will place students in actual workplaces related to their field of study with a youth population where they are expected to act as a regular employee for the set time periods in order to gain the valuable real-world experience, often sought by employers who are hiring. Students are encouraged to find their own work experience; however, once placed, continuation in the placement is a mandatory diploma requirement. This practicum is an unpaid work experience. Students and practicum hosts are provided with a practicum package that outlines the expectations of both the student and the host that need to be met to have a successful outcome.
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