How to Become a Clinical Social Worker
By Emily Martinez
As a clinical social worker you will be required to work some pretty disturbing cases, and it requires a special someone do this job. While working as a clinical social worker, you will be required to interview children, parents and entire families. Social workers work as mental health practitioners for the prevention and maintenance of behavioral and mental disorders in individuals and family groups. A degree in clinical social work is required.
There are four concentrations a clinical social worker can have: advanced generalist practice, children family therapy, clinical supervision and psychoanalysis. The advanced generalist’s degree is the highest level of clinical certification; it involves at least a master’s degree in clinical social work (MSW), state licensure at the highest level, 7,500 hours of post-graduate work, including 3,000 hours of unsupervised clinical work, 40 hours of clinical continuing education, and successful completion of a peer-reviewed application process. Child and family studies is a specialized area of clinical social work that is very popular; however, it does not require you to be a Board Certified Diplomat (BCD) in the field as with the advanced generalist’s degree. Clinical supervision involves working as a supervisor in many mental health facilities, clinics, hospitals, and through government positions. The psychoanalysis offers a social worker to work directly with mental health patients to treat mental illnesses and behavior.
In order to work as a clinical social worker, you must be licensed through your state. Licensing requirements and required insurance will differ from state to state. You will also be required to obtain board certification through the state you wish to practice. You can go to the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work website to find your state’s requirements, the board certification process, and for discounted insurance and benefits.
Stay up-to-date with your continuing education requirements so that you satisfy the board certification as well as licensing requirements in your state. The amount of continuing education will be different in each jurisdiction, but typically it involves yearly education and credit requirements. According to the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), nearly every state will hold different requirements for continuing education and board certification renewal requirements. You can check ASWB to find your state’s requirements.
Clinical social workers are the largest provider of mental health services in the United States. There are many opportunities to serve your community as a social worker. You can volunteer your time at nonprofit, conduct presentations, help with research at universities and small colleges, tutor students wanting to become clinical social workers, or work in the community giving pro bono services to needy families.
Search different databases for jobs in your chosen field. There are numerous government job that you can get with just a master’s degree. You can look at your state’s website for additional information on the different jobs they are hiring for. Also look at your states work force website, as they will also give you additional information on where to look for jobs in your area. Check your local newspapers and local colleges or universities for job postings. You can check local hospitals, clinics and nonprofits, as well as open your own private practice with the proper licensing. You can also ask your old professors, internship managers or supervisors if they know of any openings in the area.
About the Author
Emily Martinez has been writing since 2007, specializing in the fields of special education, sales/marketing and nonprofit. She holds dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and human development, as well as dual associate’s degrees in education and horticulture. Martinez has expert experience in avian care, Middle Eastern dance, costume design, machine embroidery, sewing and painting.