Why choose a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker?


Clinical Social Workers in Washington State

Clinical social work has a crucial role in the delivery of mental health services nationally with over 250,000 licensed clinical social workers. The clinical social worker is also a strong advocate for access to mental health treatment and other social services for the vulnerable citizens of Washington State.

Clinical social work training varies from state to state but requires far more extensive training than generic social work. In Washington, there are over 2,700 Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSW) and over 3,000 more social workers doing clinical work in a variety of settings.

Here are some facts about clinical social workers:

  • Clinical social workers provide 61% of mental health treatment in the country (SAMHSA, 2000) and have clinical training standards that are the equivalent or stronger than mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric nurses, and psychologists.
  • Clinical social workers are trained to provide diagnosis and treatment through psychotherapy and counseling of all mental health disorders, working closely with health care professionals who provide drug and other therapies for mental health disorders.
  • Clinical social workers had one of the highest satisfaction ratings of all mental health professionals in a 1995 Consumer Reports article according to 4000 consumers of mental health services.
  • Clinical social workers practice arenas include independent private practice, forensic assessment, mental health agencies, medical social work, school social work, and consultation to business.
  • Clinical social workers have one of the lowest complaint rates of any mental health discipline (less than 1% in Washington, according to Department of Health, 2003).
  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers in Washington State have the highest standards for clinical social work licensure in the country including an MSW degree and three years of post-graduate supervised experience.
  • Clinical social workers contribute to fewer medical problems and decreased health care costs by treating the emotional disorders that lead to 50% of visits to family practitioners (Office of the Surgeon General, 2000).
  • Clinical social workers play an integral role in state, county, and city mental health programs in Washington, King County and Seattle.


Clinical social work

(1.) "Clinical social work" means the professional application of social work theory and methods for the treatment and prevention of psychosocial dysfunction, disability, or impairment, including emotional and mental disorders of individuals and families.

(2.) "Clinical social work" includes rendering a diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual in current use.


Information provided by Laura W. Groshong, WSSCSW Legislative Consultant, (206) 524-3690

See:  Licensed Clinical Social Workers in Washington State.

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