Clinical Social Worker
Life is hard sometimes. And for some people, when their life gets too challenging, they seek out help from a clinical social worker. Also called licensed clinical social workers, these professionals are trained to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.If you are thinking of a career in social work, it's important to know that clinical social workers are different from non-clinical social workers. As the name implies, clinical social workers typically work at least part time in clinical settings and deal with very complicated issues like serious illness, substance abuse, and domestic conflict.As a clinical social worker, you would meet with individuals, couples, or groups on a regular basis to help them develop strategies to change their behavior or cope with whatever they are going through. Depending on the situation, you might also work with a client's doctor to create a specific treatment plan.How long you work with a particular person depends on how severe their issues are and how effective your treatment plan is. And part of your responsibilities will be to track the effectiveness of the plan and make adjustments accordingly. So you'll need to be able to stay focused on treatment goals, but also flexible and responsive to a person's changing needs.
Salaries and Job Outlook*
Education and Training
To be a clinical social worker, you must have a master's degree and two years (or 3,000 hours) of post-master experience in a supervised clinical setting. Plus, you must be licensed in the state in which you plan to practice. Because licensing requirements vary by state, you should contact the state board for specific requirements.A master's degree in social work generally takes 2 years to complete, although there are programs that can be completed in 1 year. Note that a bachelor's degree in social work is not required to enter a master's degree program in social work, although experience with courses in psychology, sociology, economics, and political science is recommended.
Valued Traits & Abilities
There are many professions that involve helping people deal with challenges in their lives, so if clinical social work doesn't feel like the right fit for you, you could also explore these professions.
Licensed Master Social Work (LMSW)
A LMSW can be either clinical or non-clinical, but they are only able to perform clinical work under direct consultation from a licensed clinical social worker. Therefore, a LMSW cannot engage in private practice.
Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists
These therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions aimed at helping them better understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
These specialists work with criminal offenders to help them adjust to life after incarceration and/or prevent them from committing new crimes.
Most clinical social workers generally work full time, and they may or may not perform all their duties in a hospital, nursing home, rehabilitation center or other clinical facility. Many also have private practices by themselves or in a group practice with other social workers or mental health professionals.If you were a clinical social worker, your day could involve meeting with clients, attending meetings, communicating with insurance companies. And, if you run your own practice, you'll need to spend some time doing administrative tasks required of any small business owner.Note that you may sometimes work evenings, weekends, and holidays in order to be there for your clients.