Last Updated on December 4, 2023 by Contributing Editor
The complete Clinical Social Workers job description includes diagnosing and treating patients with mental illness or behavioral disturbances. After completing a licensed clinical social workers degree, you need to find a job that gets you started in your mental health career.
That means looking through help wanted ads to find a position that’s in alignment with your education and internship experience. A clinical social workers job has core job requirements that are the same regardless of the population you want to work with. All licensed clinical social workers will require supervised clinical experience.
In order to work as a licensed clinical social worker, you have to be capable of competently fulfilling those core job requirements. Following is a look at the job of a licensed clinical social worker and the duties you’re expected to carry out in just about any area of clinical social workers employment:
What Does a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Do?
A clinical social workers job in a clinical setting that’s similar to an office instead of working in the field. Clients come to the office to see the licensed clinical social worker and evaluate their clients’ mental wellness. They work on issues such as substance abuse and will refer clients to to specialists and other health professionals or a medical team in hospital departments who can help them.
The clinical social worker also diagnoses, treats, and seeks to prevent mental illness, mental disorders, and behavioral disturbances from taking hold. Professional social workers work in social services treating clients including individuals, families, community resources, child welfare agencies, and therapy groups in clinical settings they feel are appropriate for their clients. Depending on their credentials, they may also counsel patients directly.
A clinical social workers job is similar to an entry-level position in the field of social work. The social worker is the first person that a person in need is connected with. However, many clients meet a licensed clinical social worker for more intensive care. Clinical social workers have a duty of care to their clients that includes:
- Observing client behavior to create a behavioral profile
- Diagnose a client with a human behavior disorder that best suits the client’s clinical presentation
- Create a treatment plan for behavioral problems and put it into action
- Consult with other licensed medical professionals and licensed clinical Social Workers for additional input and direction
- Apply relevant social service programs that relate to the patient’s behavioral health needs
- Provide instruction to the client and their family if necessary
- Help with substance abuse and other behavioral challenges
- Help with behavioral problems
- Counseling services
- Case management services
- Crisis intervention
This is the type of work in a job of a licensed clinical social worker. It’s something you’ll see time and again when looking into the question of “what does a licensed clinical social worker do?” To answer the question, the purpose of a social worker is that of providing compassionate mental health care to various populations and give support to their families if necessary.
How Do I Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?
The first step to becoming a licensed clinical social worker is to attend a university or college that has a social work program with accreditation from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). Accreditation is important for education quality and state licensing boards require it.
When looking at the education requirements of how to become a licensed clinical social worker, you’ll find you need a BSW. A bachelor of Social Work is the minimum degree level for a Social Work license. However, you’ll find that it’s best to earn your master’s to extend your body of knowledge and capabilities as well as earn more licenses. This will allow you freedom to set up a private practice as well.
While many social workers will earn a master’s degree, a doctoral degree is rare. Professionals can find plenty of employment opportunities with a bachelor’s or a two years master’s. A master’s degree usually take two years to three years, and supervised experience.
What Type of License is Required?
Chances are good that you’ll see a specific type of licensing requirement in the clinical social worker job. The type of licensing you need to become an LCSW depends on the state in which you live.
It also depends on any relevant type of license required by an employer and state. In the event, you want to work in an unsupervised setting, or solo practitioner, crisis intervention counselor, you need to earn your master’s of social work. This degree lets you become a licensed independent social worker (LISW).
A master’s degree in a specific area of social work helps students advance their careers and licensing options. Therefore, many schools have responded to that need through accelerated BSW to MSW programs. You will also need continuing education throughout your career to keep your license.
What is the ASWB Exam?
Once a student has earned their degree, they can sit for the Association of Social Work Board (ASWB) exam. The exam is available to students who have successfully completed an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree as a social worker.
However, students can only take the associate degree exam in limited areas. Additionally, the exam for those who have a bachelor’s degree ensures that the individual has a basic generalist practice at the baccalaureate level of social work. Those who have a master’s degree have demonstrated that they have the ability to practice social work along with the application of specialized knowledge and also advanced skills.
Your Social Work Career
A student that has successfully completed the schooling, passed the relevant exams and has obtained their license(s) can apply for work as clinical social workers. Furthermore, they have proven that they have learned the relevant skills and knowledge for the field, participated in supervised work-study, and are ready to apply their education to the community at large.
Employment Opportunities for a Clinical Social Worker
Social Workers work in places such as community health centers, have a private practice, group clinical practice, substance abuse clinics.