Confessions of a Reluctant Macro Practitioner


  • Joseph Walsh School of Social WorkVirginia Commonwealth University


micro practice, social work, macro practice, agency administration, community mental health, social work administration


While social work education emphasizes the importance of practice at the macro and micro (or generalist) levels, most social workers choose direct practice roles rather than macro (administrative, policy, and planning) roles. As a long-time direct services provider, it has seemed to me that different skills are required for each type of practice. In my case, I have always been passionate about direct practice with persons who have serious mental illnesses. Early in my career, I was quick to become frustrated with my macro peers who, it seemed to me, lacked a full awareness of my clients’ needs and thus failed to provide adequate resources for them. Gradually, however, I became aware that I needed to occasionally “step up” into macro practice roles to ensure that my clients were well served. The process was stressful for me, though, and I experienced several failures before coming to feel competent as a part-time macro practitioner. This is the story of my clumsy evolution.

Author Biography

Joseph Walsh, School of Social WorkVirginia Commonwealth University

Joseph Walsh is a professor of social work at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.




How to Cite

Walsh, J. (2018). Confessions of a Reluctant Macro Practitioner. Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping, 24(1), 155–162. Retrieved from