What is an LCSW?

California Legal Description of Clinical Social Work Practice

Section 4996.9 of the California Business and Professions Code defines the practice of clinical social work as “a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that unconscious motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive social adjustments. The application of social work principles and methods includes, but is not restricted to, counseling and using applied psychotherapy of a nonmedical nature with individuals, families, or groups; providing information and referral services; providing or arranging for the provision of social services; explaining or interpreting the psychosocial aspects in the situations of individuals, families, or groups; helping communities to organize, to provide, or to improve social or health services; or doing research related to social work.”

Licensed Clinical Social Workers are well-trained and highly skilled professionals with a minimum of experience of:

  • Two-year master’s degree in Social Welfare from accredited national universities, including a two-year clinical internship of 1,000 hours
  • Two years post master’s degree supervision in clinical practice, including a two-year clinical internship of 3,200 hours
  • Having passed written and oral licensing examinations
  • Increasingly, many hold doctorate degrees and other advanced accreditations in the field of mental health

Licensed Clinical Social Workers maintain professional standards through:

  • Regulation by the State Board of Behavioral Science Examiners, Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Continuing education through universities, professional seminars, workshops and other sources
  • Abiding by a stringent Code of Ethics
  • National Certification through the Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work

Among the services which Licensed Clinical Social Workers provide are:

  • Psychotherapy for children, adolescents, adults, families and groups
  • Marital, family, child and geriatric counseling
  • Diagnostic evaluations
  • Treatment, case management and follow-up services to children, adolescents and adults in residential treatment centers and hospitals, in nursing homes and hospices, and in outpatient clinics
  • Mental health education
  • Grief and loss counseling
  • Consultation to probation, courts, hospitals, schools, social and governmental agencies and to the private industry
  • Preventative mental health and wellness programs
  • Rehabilitation
  • Divorce and business mediation

For additional information about Licensed Clinical Social Workers, please visit the following websites:

  1. National Association of Social Workers:www.naswdc.org/pressroom/features/general/profession.asp
  2. American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work:www.abecsw.org/info/org/i_overview.shtml
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics: www.bls.gov
  4. California Board of Behavioral Science: 
    www.bbs.ca.gov/gen-3.htm