I enjoy the Dear Amy column. I often find her wit and answers in alignment with my own. After reading this column, I thought about how the most unsolicited professional advice for me came when I informed people about the requirements to become a licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW). The requirements read:
Graduation from a master’s or doctorate social work educational program accredited by the council on social work education.
- Minimum of four thousand hours (4000) of experience.
- 1,000 hours must be direct client contact over a three-year period.
- Supervised by a LICSW
- 130 hours of supervision by a licensed mental health practitioner. Of the total supervision, 70 hours must be with an independent clinical social worker. The 70 hours may be in one-to-one supervision or group supervision. The other 60 hours may be with an equally qualified licensed mental health practitioner. The 60 hours must be in one-on-one supervision. Distance supervision is limited to 60 supervision hours.
- Exam Requirements: The American Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) exam is required for licensure. The advanced exam is required to be a LASW, and the clinical exam is required to be a LICSW.
I got a host of “That’s not too bad. You worked full-time and put yourself through grad school. You can do this”.
It’s like they missed the part where I completed thousands of hours of practicum and I could NOT apply that toward my 4,000 hours of experience. The other most common advice I got was “You will get a job.”
I couldn’t just get a job! I had graduated with 76 other people who were in the same boat. I also had to have a licensed mental health practitioner sign off on my hours. This was like finding a needle in a haystack, though people kept asking me about my career and I kept telling them. Then one day a friend said, “That is absurd, you need to advocate to change the laws.” This friend put me in contact with his friend- a state representative. I was heard (have your concerns and evidence ready. Rambling and bitching rarely gets you results)!
With the support of this state representative I decided to use my voice to lobby. The requirements have been updated. One can receive clinical supervision from others licensed professionally other than just social workers. This is a win for many clinical social workers who want to work on an interdisciplinary team. The number of years to get licensed has been increased to six instead of three. I also put in place a survey to find out how many individuals were renewing their associate verse obtaining their clinical licensing each year. There is still plenty of work to be done. However, talking about my dreams in the open, I was able to make change to my profession. I echo the words of Dear Amy, “Don’t stop talking about your work (if you’re asked) — or avoid or ignore this unsolicited advice — but look for effective ways to cope with it.”