Employment as a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) requires a master's degree in social work plus state licensing. Social work master's programs can take between about two years to complete. Students may concentrate in specialties like child and family services, mental health or administration. They usually take part in multiple field practica throughout the program and complete a final professional project. Graduates can find employment in schools or with hospitals, public agencies, community organizations or private practice.
Graduates need more than just a master's degree to get their licensure as a clinical social worker. They need to do supervised work for a minimum of two years after they graduate to qualify to take the licensure exam. This work has to take place in a clinical setting.
Here are some common concepts explored in LCSW courses:
- Biopsychosocial evaluation
- Racial justice
- Urban environments
Overview of LCSW Courses
Human Behavior and Social Environment Course
Classroom lectures explore how individuals, families, groups or communities act based on biology, psychology and sociology. Readings examine the behavior of children and adults with regard to culture, spirituality, gender, social and economic class, race, sexual orientation and ethnicity. Students explore and discuss practical social work applications based on common theoretical models at micro, mezzo and macro levels.
Social Welfare Policy Course
This course presents an overview and analysis of past and present state and federal welfare systems. Students examine how policies are developed, enacted into law, implemented and evaluated for results. Studies include the effects of social welfare policy on specific populations, as well as the tools used for influencing social welfare policy.
Clinical Practice Course
In this required class, aspiring licensed clinical social workers develop general practical service skills in the context of traditional social work values. These skills include addressing special considerations for working with individuals, families, groups and communities of all kinds. Professional ethics and judgment are emphasized. A historical look at the evolution of social work practice methods, including current challenges, may be part of the syllabus.
Research Methods in Social Work Course
Students apply the principles of the scientific method to social work research in this required class. Qualitative and quantitative data analyses methods are discussed. Students identify an issue, design and carry out a study, and review and interpret results according to academic and professional standards. They hone critical thinking skills with regard to reviewing others' research.
Child Welfare Course
In this elective course taken by students concentrating on child welfare, coursework focuses on developmentally appropriate assessment and intervention and prevention techniques for serving children's needs. Students will learn strategies for working with children who are experiencing familial changes, violence or neglect. Emphasis is placed on the skills used to get children into safe, secure and nurturing environments.
Addictions Practice Course
Licensed clinical social workers often help people suffering from addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling and other vices. This elective course covers prevention, intervention and recovery support services. Service methods stress interviewing and assessing clients and developing plans of action for treatment and recovery based on established social work principles.
The course introduces students to appropriate outreach methods for individuals, families and communities within the context of addiction. Biological, psychological, cultural and economic factors that contribute to and inhibit client success are identified.