If you’re considering social work as a career choice, you’re probably wondering what a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) is. Although there are several differences between licensed and unlicensed social workers, the most important distinction is that you can provide counseling services as a LCSW. You aren’t required to obtain a clinical license, but it can help your job prospects and ability to serve others. Becoming a LCSW isn’t an easy process; it takes several years of supervised counseling services, specific coursework and success on a challenging exam. However, many social workers consider clinical care to be their true calling and love their jobs as mental health workers.
What’s the difference between a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Social Worker?
Social work is a diverse profession. Getting your clinical license to practice mental health from a social work perspective is one of many career paths you could take. As a LCSW, you’re able to offer counseling services, bill insurance agencies under your own license and grow a mental health practice. You can still work as a general social worker in case management, medical care or non-profit service; obtaining a license simply increases your options by proving your clinical expertise.
What Does a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Do?
Most LCSW practitioners start off providing one-on-one mental health counseling in their own private practice or at an established office. Social workers often work with people addicted to drugs and alcohol and seeking to quit their addictions. Hospitals, schools and governments often hire licensed social workers for specific populations. As with other master-level social workers, clinical social workers can become managers, lead non-profit organizations and work to change public policies.
How do I Become a LCSW?
Social workers are licensed on a state-by-state basis, so your requirements will depend on where you live. Be sure to check your state’s regulatory board to plan out the exact steps you’ll need to take. California’s LCSW licensure requirements are a typical example of what you’ll need to do. You must have a Master’s of Social Work degree, work under an already licensed mental health professional for about two years, take continuing education courses specific to California and finally pass a rigorous licensing exam. Multiple attempts are allowed.
Should I Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?
As California shows, becoming a licensed clinical social worker is a time-consuming process, and you likely want to know if it’s worth your time. If you’re already considering social work as a field, becoming a LCSW will only increase your career opportunities, prestige and salary options. If you’re passionate about mental health care, you absolutely want to obtain your social work licensure and the ability to provide psychological services to clients. With the mental health care epidemic in schools, prisons and communities, you will never run out of job options once you have your license and social work degree.
When you enroll in classes for your master of social work degree, you’ll be required to choose a concentration. Counseling and therapy services are a potential option for your degree focus, and this track will help you on your journey to becoming a licensed clinical social worker. If you are considering a career as a licensed clinical social worker, you should be ready to put in the work. However, the career proves to be extremely rewarding. Licensed clinical social workers are a crucial part of keeping people healthy, safe, and comfortable when life is challenging.