Clinical Social Work Guide [Careers, Education & Salaries]
What is a Clinical Social Worker?
Job Description at a Glance
Education Requirements and Licensing
- A certain number of hours of post-graduate work experience in a supervised clinical environment.
- Passing licensing examinations as outlined by their state’s board of social work licensure. Social work licensure examinations are typically administered by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB).
- Completing specific coursework as required by their state.
Earn Your Master of Social Work From Simmons University
Aspiring direct practitioners can earn their MSW online from Simmons University in as few as 16 months. GRE scores are not required, and the program offers full-time, part-time, accelerated, and advanced standing tracks.
- Prepares students to pursue licensure, including LCSW
- Full-time, part-time, and accelerated tracks
- Minimum completion time: 16 months
Clinical Social Workers vs. Psychologists
Overview of Careers and Job Opportunities for Clinical Social Workers
- Child and family social workers.
- Child welfare social workers.
- Criminal justice social workers.
- Geriatric social workers.
- Hospice, palliative care, home care social workers.
- International social workers.
- Medical and health care social workers.
- Pediatric social workers.
- Psychiatric social workers.
- Military social workers.
- School social workers.
- Substance abuse social workers.
Child and Family Social Workers
Child Welfare Social Workers
Criminal Justice Social Workers
Geriatric Social Workers
Hospice, Palliative Care, Home Care Social Workers
International Social Workers
Medical and Health Care Social Workers
Pediatric Social Workers
Psychiatric Social Workers
Military Social Workers
School Social Workers
Substance Abuse Social Workers
Private Practice Social Work
Clinical Social Work: A Broad and Varied Professional Field
Techniques Used by Clinical Social Workers
- Psychotherapy and Evidence Based Practices.
- Case Management.
Diagnosis of Mental Disorders
Psychotherapy and Evidence-Based Practices
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
- Problem Solving Therapy.
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.
- Supportive Psychotherapy.
- Harm Reduction Techniques.
- Motivational Interviewing.
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.
- Experiential Therapy.
- Theory of change.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Problem Solving Therapy
Harm Reduction Techniques
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
Theory of Change
- Geriatric care settings.
- Mental health and substance abuse clinics.
- Child welfare agencies.
- Correctional facilities.
- Hospice and palliative care settings.
- Employee assistance programs.
- Health and medical care settings.
- Housing services.
- Immigrant and refugee services.
- Military and veteran support programs.
The 10 Core Competencies of Clinical Social Work
- Identify as professional social workers and conduct themselves accordingly. Clinical social workers should possess and demonstrate an awareness of the history and core mission of their profession, and to continually engage in professional development through self-awareness, self-correction and lifelong learning.
- Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice. Clinical social workers are expected to apply the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics and, where applicable, the International Federation of Social Workers/International Association of Schools of Social Work Ethics in Social Work, Statement of Principles to their daily professional practice. Clinical social workers are expected to combine the aforementioned standards with their own understanding of ethical principles when addressing morally ambiguous situations on the job.
- Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments. Clinical social workers consistently combine research-informed methods with wisdom derived from clinical practice to effectively assess, understand, diagnose and address client challenges. Clinical social workers also use critical thinking skills to help clients identify and use their internal strengths and external resources to tackle difficult social, emotional, behavioral and psychological issues.
- Engage diversity and difference in practice. Clinical social workers have an in-depth understanding of how diversity impacts people’s experiences, perspectives and interactions with others. They acknowledge that differences in age, race, gender, class, culture, political views, sexual orientation and other characteristics can lead to marginalization, alienation, oppression and/or harmful power dynamics within society that can negatively impact people on an individual and community level. Clinical social workers also understand how demographic differences and the marginalization that can result from them affect how clients present and discuss their challenges during therapeutic sessions.
- Advance human rights and social and economic justice. In addition to addressing client challenges at the individual level, clinical social workers should be invested in examining, understanding and working to address social oppression on a national and international level. Clinical social workers serve as scholars of and advocates for human rights, social and economic justice, and accessibility to social support.
- Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research. Clinical social workers understand the interplay between social work research and clinical practice, in that they utilize evidence-based interventions and use recent and relevant research to inform their work with clients. Additionally, clinical social workers may engage in research by contacting research institutions and communities about problems they have encountered in the field.
- Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment. Clinical social workers have sound and functional knowledge of human development, psychology and behavior across the lifespan, and use this knowledge to effectively address clients’ challenges in the context of their biological, intellectual, behavioral and social development.
- Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services. Clinical social workers are active scholars of state and national policy as it relates to the well-being of vulnerable populations and society as a whole. They also serve as advocates for policies that support and improve the lives of people in need.
- Respond to contexts that shape practice. Clinical social workers are flexible and adapt their clinical practice to the changing social, organizational and professional contexts in which they work. They remain aware of evolving social, political, organizational and economic climates, and work to not only respond to these changes, but also lead positive developments in these areas as part of a larger group of human service professionals.
- Engage, assess, intervene and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities. Clinical social workers should have the knowledge and skills to assess, identify, analyze and address clients’ challenges through a combination of empathetic and culturally sensitive engagement with individuals, families and groups; rigorous and multifaceted bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment methods; evidence-based interventions that aim to help clients address, manage and/or prevent issues that negatively impact their well-being; and evaluate the effectiveness of clinical assessments and interventions, with the intention to always improve one’s practice through continued research and professional development.