How to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Want to Know How to Become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker?

Learn how to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with an education background in the social sciences and establish a career helping others cope with mental health problems. The qualifications to become an LCSW include a Master’s Degree, along with state certification. Qualifications for getting Licensed Clinical Social Worker jobs are not as involved as becoming a psychologist, but training is likely to involve 6 years of college work.

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker is often called a “social worker”, but they are trained in psychotherapy and can help people with a variety of mental health issues. Social workers tend to help people with daily living problems, giving people in the community the information and skills to improve the overall functioning of their lives. There are various fields of training social workers educate themselves in, including sociology, mental health theory, mental health practice, human behavior, growth and development, psychology, social environment and research methods.

Becoming a licensed clinical social worker is a job similar to the psychologist, in many ways, though an LCSW usually has a Master’s Degree, while a doctor of psychology has a doctorate. Having a job as a social worker requires a special kind of temperament and training, but the rewards of daily helping the unfortunate are great.

Mental Health Professional Licenses

A licensed clinical social worker, often shortened to just LCSW, is one of six masters level degrees that qualify one to practice psychotherapy in the United States. The term “psychotherapy” seems to have fallen out of fashion somewhat these days, and replaced with the word “counseling”. Here are the six counseling professions.

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC or, less commonly, LPC)
  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC or, less commonly, LMHC)
  • Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Eligible (LPC-BE)
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
  • Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC)

The Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Eligible is a counselor who is still getting their full LPC. They charge for their psychotherapy, but they can’t charge as much as a full Licensed Professional Counselor. But we’re more concerned with the LCSW, so let’s discuss specifics.

What Does a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Do?

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker is a therapist in a medical environment, either working in a psychiatric hospital or supplying private practice therapy. This is the therapist short of a Doctorate in Psychology or Philosophy, and requires a Master’s Degree to practice. To “practice psychology” and call yourself a psychologist in the U.S., you have to have either a Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD) or a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD), while also meeting the individual state requirements and get a state license to practice.

Studying to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker therefore stops short of becoming a psychologist, but it allows you to act as a counselor or therapist and charge money for this work in specific situations.

Becoming an LCSW

How to Become a Licensed Clinical Social WorkerThose already with college credits, but who want to learn how to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or LCSW, should focus on the social sciences courses they’ve taken. To become an LCSW, states require a Master’s Degree in Social Work. This master degree is called an MSW.

Your Bachelor’s Degree needs to be in one of the social sciences, but this is a wide-ranging collection of subjects, so if you have a degree in a soft science, you’re likely to qualify to pursue further education to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Below is a list of “social sciences”.

  • Law
  • Economics
  • Education
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology
  • Psychology
  • Political Science
  • Geography
  • Sociobiology
  • Linguistics
  • Information Science
  • Communication Studies
  • Developmental Studies

Social sciences are sometimes considered “soft sciences”, because they don’t study “hard” laws of nature or formal science. Though social sciences study human social aspects, but they study it using more subjective methods and fewer scientific or laboratory methods.

Post-Graduate Work

Even with an MSW Degree, a person has to work under supervision for about 3,000 hours, if you want to become a licensed clinical social worker.

National Association of Social Workers

If you’re interested in studying how to become a licensed clinical social worker, the National Association of Social Workers website is a good research to learn about the education requirements and credentials a social worker needs. You can also look over the site and see the kind of issues LCSW’s face in the community every day, and whether these are concerns and challenges you want to face in your post-graduate career.

The NASW includes a link to a “social work blog” and a “social work chat” that lets you explore even deeper pursuing a job in the field of social work.

Social Work Portal

A related site is the Social Work Portal website, which is a good resource for people wanting to find the best schools of social work. Social Workers .org lets you join social work organizations, find an NASW chapter near you, find a job or learn about other NASW sites. If you need to consult with a licensed clinical social worker, there’s even tools to find a social worker to work with you.

Those hoping to learn how to become a licensed clinical social worker should find plenty of support resources to help them find the training and education needed to launch a career in the social work field.

Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker

When you study how to become a licensed clinical social worker, you should take every opportunity to interact with people in a prepared clinical setting, including internships and other student training exercises. This not only prepares you for your career as a social worker, but also lets you decide if the lcsw job is the one for you. While being a social worker is a way to help the community and make a difference in people’s lives, social work is not the calling for everyone.

If you do find that your calling is to be a social worker, then talk to your degree counselor and see what kind of exams you’ll need to take and how your social science credits can be applied to a social sciences degree. Once you have a degree plan that set you on the path to a social sciences degree, you’ll have the qualifications to become a licensed clinical social worker by pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work.

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