A clinical social worker helps patients who are suffering from various emotional and behavioral disorders. They make a meaningful and positive impact to society. You will have the opportunity to diagnose and prescribe treatment to patients suffering from a variety of behavioral, emotional and mental problems. Also called licensed clinical social worker, you will be using the theory and methods of social work to treat dysfunctions and impairments so that an individual will be able to function productively once more. Through the work you do, you will be able to help not only individual patients but their families and communities as well.
As a clinical social worker, you will be working with clients to develop strategies to help them cope with extremely difficult situations or alter their behavior. If necessary, you may refer clients to support groups and even other mental health practitioners who will be able to give them the services and support they need. In many cases, you and your client will be working with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists, among others, to come up with treatment plans. Depending on how your patient is doing in treatment, you may make the necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
You can expect to do a lot of research, write reports and deal with loads of paperwork in your capacity as a clinical social worker. If you are working in private practice, you can also expect to work with insurance firms so you can get payment for your services. If you teach in college or university, you will also be performing the tasks that teachers are supposed to do. These include making lesson plans, meeting students regularly for lectures, administering tests, advising them on research topics and computing the grades of students. Your responsibilities will also include attending regular meetings at the department to plan various academic activities.
To succeed as a clinical social worker, you need to be compassionate with what others are going through. You need to know how to listen to others so that you can understand what their problem is and be able to arrive at the correct diagnosis. Since you need to foster healthy relationships your clients to gain their trust, you should have excellent interpersonal skills and show to them that you are interested in helping them. You should also possess problem solving skills so you can provide apt solutions to the issues that clients present to you.
Why Become A Clinical Social Worker
A career as a social worker is well-suited for those who really have a heart for serving people. Whether they specialize in helping people deal with past traumas, get past their drug addiction or help couples work through their issues to prevent divorce, clinical social workers ultimately improve the lives of people. Aside from the personal fulfillment that can be gained from this career, a practical reason to become a clinical social worker is that it has excellent employment opportunities in the next few years.
Clinical social workers are found in various settings like hospitals, community health clinics, substance abuse clinics, child welfare agencies and correctional facilities. Many also work in their own private practices. They typically see clients in their office although they may also do visits in institutions like prisons, if the situation calls for it. The work is often fulltime and done during regular hours, although they may need to see clients, do paper work and attend meetings after office hours.
Clinical Social Worker Salary
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wage of social workers is $48,370. Clinical social workers belong to the category of all other social workers who receive a mean annual salary of $56,060. This is higher than what other types of social workers receive. Healthcare social workers were paid $52,520 a year while child, family and school social workers got $46,060 annually. Mental health and substance abuse social workers, meanwhile, received $44,420.
Clinical Social Worker Career Outlook
Social workers have a very positive career outlook in the next few years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the employment rate of social workers is set to grow 19 percent, a rate that is much faster than the average for all job types. The demand for healthcare and social services will spur the need for these professionals.
Clinical Social Worker Degree
The educational path towards becoming a clinical social worker is lengthier compared to that of other social workers. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in social work which is the minimum requirement for most social workers, aspiring clinical social workers must obtain a master’s degree in social work (MSW) which takes anywhere from one to two years to complete. After obtaining an MSW, the candidate must also complete a couple of years of experience in a supervised clinical setting. They must also pass a clinical exam so they can be licensed, a requirement before they can practice their professions.