What Is A Clinical Social Worker?
Clinical Social Workers are licensed/certified mental health
professional who can help you find solutions to your emotional
problems-from daily crises to life’s most difficult situations.
They accomplish this through a unique combination of problem-solving
assistance and psychotherapy, then help you understand the
problems causing your emotional distress, develop and implement
methods to resolve the issues and, when necessary, connect
you with community resources that offer practical assistance
Clinical Social Workers are the largest group of professionally
trained mental health providers rendering over 65 percent of
counseling and psychotherapy services. With over half a century
of experience providing expert counseling and psychotherapy
for individuals, families, couples and groups, Clinical Social
Workers have the skills to help you make positive changes in
Clinical Social Workers in private practice, Psychologist,
and Psychiatrists are all mental health professionals trained
to help with emotional problems. Psychiatrists can also dispense
medications, whereas Psychologists administer psychological
testing. Clinical Social Workers are unique in their holistic
client’s relationship to his or her environment, often
with extensive knowledge in medication and psychological testing.
For most people seeking help, the answer is Clinical Social
Work: the 130,000 licensed Clinical Social Workers are the
majority providers of mental health care in the United States.
Advanced Clinical Social Workers are among the best-educated,
best-trained, most-experienced practitioners available. Theirs
is a discipline with its own body of knowledge and a distinctive
approach to psychotherapy and counseling. They draw on social
work’s humanitarian values, focusing on enhancing your
coping skills in your environment and working with you in the
light of your special circumstances, including ethnic and cultural
factors, workplace issues, and family or other relationships.
Among Clinical Social Workers, about 15,000 hold national voluntary
advanced credential of Board Certified Diplomate (BCD) from
the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABE).
Advanced Clinical Social Workers are graduate-school educated
and have years of experience in assessing, diagnosing, and
treating bio-psychosocial problems. Nearly 90% of Board Certified
Diplomates (BCD) have ten years or more of clinical experience.
By education and training, most BCD’S are goal-oriented
therapists who understand problems from many perspectives.
All states have laws that regulate the practice of social
work in order to protect the public. New Jersey has laws
that also regulate Clinical Social Work. These regulatory
programs involve licensure, certification, or registration.
ABE, an independent certifying organization, offers the Board
Certified Diplomate (BCD), a voluntary national credential
by which advanced Clinical Social Workers may be recognized
for their adherence to high professional standards.
ABE confers the BCD upon Clinical Social Workers who meet
the following eligibility criteria:
- a master’s degree
with a clinical concentration from a program accredited by
Council on Social Work Education;
- a minimum of 7,500 hours
of direct clinical practice (including 3,000 hours under
supervision) in not less the five years;
- (since 1989) passage
of ABE’s clinical examination;
and licensure/certification/registration held at the highest
available in the state(s) where they practice.
Work shares with all social work practice the goal of enhancement
and maintenance of psychosocial functioning
of individuals, families, and small groups. Clinical Social
Work practice is the professional application of social
work theory and methods to the treatment and prevention of
dysfunction, disability, or impairment, including emotional
and mental disorders. It is based on knowledge of one or
theories of human development within psychosocial context.
The perspective of person-in-environment is central to Clinical
Social Work practice. Clinical Social Work includes interventions
directed to interpersonal interactions, intrapsychic dynamics,
and life support and management issues. Clinical Social Work
services consist of assessment; diagnoses; treatment, including
psychotherapy and counseling; client-centered advocacy; consultation;
and evaluation. The process of Clinical Social Work is undertaken
within the objectives of social work and the principles and
values contained in the National Association of Social Workers
(NASW), Code of Ethics.
Preamble: Code of Ethics of National Association of Social
The primary mission of the Social Work profession is to enhance
human well-being and help meet the basic human needs of all
people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment
of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty.
A historic and defining feature of social work is the profession’s
focus on individual well-being in a social context and the
well-being of society. Fundamental to social work is attention
to the environmental forces that create, contribute to, and
address problems in living.
Social Workers promote social justice and social change with
and on behalf of clients. “Clients” is used inclusively
to refer to individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities.
Social Workers are sensitive to cultural and ethnic diversity
and strive to end discrimination, oppression, poverty, and
other forms of social injustice. These activities may be in
the form of direct practice, community organizing, supervision,
consultation, administration, advocacy, social and political
action, policy development and implementation, education, research
and evaluation. Social Workers seek to enhance the capacity
of people to address their own needs. Social Workers also seek
to promote the responsiveness of organizations, communities,
and other social institutions to individuals’ needs and
The mission of the Social Work profession is rooted in a set
of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers
throughout the profession’s history, are the foundation
of social work’s unique purpose and perspective:
- social justice
- dignity and worth of the person
- importance of human relationships
This constellation of core values reflects what is unique
to the social work profession. Core values, and the principles
that flow from them, must be balanced within the context and
complexity of the human experience.
The above information compiled from literature provided by
the National Association of Social Workers and the American
Board of Examiners of Clinical Social Workers.