Clinical social workers are the largest group of behavioral health practitioners in the United States. They are often the first health care professionals to diagnose and treat people coping with mental disorders, or other emotional and behavioral problems. They play an essential role in a variety of client-centered settings, including mental health facilities, hospitals, substance abuse treatment and recovery programs, primary health care centers, schools, child welfare agencies, and many other settings.
Clinical social work is a state-regulated profession guided by state laws and regulations. In most jurisdictions, clinical social workers are required to have a Master’s degree from a social work program at an accredited institution; at least two years or three thousand hours of post-master’s degree experience in a supervised clinical setting; and a clinical license in the state where they are going to practice.
Clinical social work is broad-based, and a licensed clinical social worker helps clients overcome their issues by providing counseling and may include locating housing and employment opportunities. They provide clients with the tools and resources needed to become productive members of society.
There are six core values that are rooted in social work: service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence. Social workers have an obligation to embrace all of these values in service to their client, colleagues and their profession.
Thea Jandzio is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been embracing these core values for more than twenty years. She earned her Master of Social Work at Fordham University, and lives and works in New York City.