Masters in Clinical Social Work
The primary degree for a career in social work is the Master of Social Work, or MSW. Like many masters programs this one offers areas of specialization, one of which is clinical studies. The Master of Clinical Social Work is generally a MSW choice of focus, or major. Social workers in all states must be licensed; those that wish to do counseling work are usually called clinical social workers and will need a MSW in order to obtain a license.
The two major divisions in social work are clinical and administrative. Clinical workers focus on individuals, families and groups; those that chose an administrative area of concentration get involved in social services policy, agency management and community advocacy. Those who graduate with a Master of Clinical Social Work may provide mental health treatment in hospitals, homeless shelters, social service agencies or outpatient clinics. A clinical social worker may often become involved in an intervention role with families, since the source of many social problems is family dysfunction. Clinical social workers also focus on counseling for adolescents and families that may not involve mental health, but issues such as school problems or the basics of food and shelter.
A Master of Clinical Social Work usually requires a two-year academic commitment. One of the requirements for any sort of social work degree is extensive training in the field, working in a social services environment that is related to the MSW major. For clinical social work that usually means working with an experience social work counselor for several hundred hours during the second year of study. Because of the requirement for field work the few online degrees require the student to work out field placement arrangements that are acceptable to the school. It is also critical to check with the state licensing agency where you intend to practice about the academic program you have chosen.