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Online Education (degree In Clinical Social Work)
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A program that prepares individuals for the specialized professional practice of social work, in collaboration with other health care professionals, in hospitals and other health care facilities and organizations. Includes instruction in social work, psychiatric case work, clinical interviewing techniques, therapeutic intervention strategies, patient testing and evaluation, patient and family counseling, social rehabilitation, patient care planning, record-keeping, and support services liaison.
What is Clinical Social Work?
Clinical social work separates itself from traditional social work through the level of education and specialization necessary in order to conduct one's tasks, often conducting services through private practice or from a hospital or clinic. Individuals in this field typically work alone or alongside medical professionals in order to provide assistance and counseling for clients. Clinical social workers may work closely with physicians and other healthcare professionals to assist in development and care and to provide a treatment plan that best assists a patient.
Individuals seeking to become clinical social workers must first complete a master degree program accredited by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). A bachelor's degree in social work is not required to pursue a masters, and almost any bachelor's degree is acceptable when pursuing a master degree level education. Individuals may also opt for doctoral degree program upon completion, which allows for further specialization and education, and allows for employment as an educator at the collegiate level.
A curriculum may include:
Social Work Research
Social Work and the Law
A clinical social worker may seek employment through private practice, group practice, or through government agency. Individuals working at hospitals will work alongside healthcare professionals to provide assistance, diagnosis and treatment for individuals suffering from mental health or social issues. Private practices require the individual to build a clientele and to work with clients and insurance providers to ensure payments are made in order to sustain one's business. Group practices are similar, with professionals working with one another to reduce risk and increase coverage. Most states require clinical social workers to receive licensure, which often requires a certain number of clinical hours to be met, and several years of education.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Job growth for social workers is expected to increase greatly over the next decade as the demand for assistance and mental health professionals rises. The growth will not be uniform within the field as various specialities, such as health care, mental health and substance abuse, being in higher demand than others. The average salary of a clinical social worker is $66,000 annually, but may vary based on location, experience and education. Individuals interested in clinical social work may also be interested in mental health counseling, substance abuse and addiction counseling, or marriage counseling and family therapy.
Clinical social work is often referred to as micro social work, a concentration on the mounting social problems affecting individuals or small groups (macro social work focuses on psychosocial issues facing larger groups like communities and organizations). Clinical social workers play a supportive role, providing mental health services to help diagnose, treat, and prevent mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders at the micro level (individuals, families, and groups). Child abuse, homelessness, substance abuse, and urban decay are just a few of the issues social workers tackle.
Graduate students in social work who plan to become clinical practitioners will take additional clinical course work, do fieldwork in a clinical setting under the supervision of an experienced clinical social work and will, upon graduation, complete a minimum amount (two years) of supervised clinical social work employment.
When you’re considering which schools to apply to for your master’s degree and subsequent license to practice social work, location can be important. Schools in certain regions may emphasize social work needs specific to that region. For example, schools in urban areas may offer classes and field study that differ from those offered by schools in rural areas. Some schools may want to recruit students who plan to stay and work in the area so that they can help improve the surrounding community.
Students typically complete their master’s coursework in clinical social work in two years of full-time study. Part-time programs typically take three to four years to complete. Unlike other master’s programs, some clinical social work programs do not require their students to complete a master’s thesis, which can be good news to those who dread grueling research projects. However, graduate students are required to complete hours of demanding field study (at least 900 hours) before graduation. Students find that it makes them more prepared for what they’ll face once they enter the profession.
Those wishing to pursue careers in teaching and research go on to obtain their Ph.D.s in the field. Many schools offer dual master’s and Ph.D. programs; so if this is your goal, look out for programs that offer you a full course of study.
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