Arizona social workers are behavioral health professionals. They assist people in increasing their functional abilities and may also use social work theory to carry out psychotherapy.
There are three categories of social work licensure: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Professionals with the highest license, LCSW, are qualified to diagnose, assess, and treat mental disorders. They achieve independence, though, only after a period of supervised clinical practice.
Social workers at any level must meet education, examination, and character requirements. Those who have not achieved clinical licensure can engage in activities considered clinical only when under direct supervision.
Education and Examination
An initial license may be granted on the basis of education at the bachelor’s or master’s level. However, an individual who wishes to advance to the level of clinical social worker must have education at the master’s level. (Social Work Schools in Arizona).
The social work program is to be accredited by CSWE; the sponsoring school is to be regionally accredited. Equivalent foreign degrees may be accepted; this is determined by the CSWE Foreign Equivalency Determination Service.
The candidate will need to pass a licensing examination at the expected level or at a higher one. Examinations are administered by the Association of Social Work Boards. There is just one examination accepted for LCSW licensing: the clinical exam. A candidate at the LMSW level may be licensed on the basis of having passed the master’s, advanced generalist, or clinical examination. These examinations can also be accepted at the LBSW level; however, at this stage, the bachelor’s level examination is acceptable.
Applicants who have not yet tested will seek receive authorization from the Arizona Board. Once an ATT has been issued, the candidate can self-schedule through Pearson VUE. Candidate guides are available from the ASWB (www.aswb.org).
Temporary licensure is available to otherwise qualified candidates who have not yet tested.
Supervised Practice Requirements and List of Supervisors
Arizona distinguishes between direct supervision and clinical supervision. Direct supervision is oversight and responsibility for services. Clinical supervision is directed toward preparation for clinical licensure.
A candidate for clinical licensure will work under supervision for at least 24 months and accrue at least 3,200 experience hours. At least half the required hours will be spent in direct client contact. Of these, up to 400 may be credited for provision of psycho-education. Professional consultation is among the activities that would fall into the indirect client care category.
100 hours of clinical supervision hours will be required. The clinical supervisor may be different than the direct supervisor. The practitioner will need both during the time he or she is accruing hours for clinical licensure.
The supervisee will receive clinical supervision from one or more professionals with the following licensing: clinical social worker, professional counselor, independent substance abuse counselor, independent marriage and family therapist. The person must have had appropriate education and be in good status.
The clinical supervisor will have multiple responsibilities, including monitoring practice, providing instruction, reviewing legal requirements, and ensuring that the supervisee’s own documentation is adequate. He or she will observe at least 10 hours of client sessions, whether directly or through recordings or electronic systems.
In most cases, the associate will need at least 50 hours of supervision from a clinical social worker. Arizona is very specific about many aspects of clinical supervision, including the employment status of the clinical supervisor. Exemptions may be granted in some circumstances, for example, when there is not a person who is qualified to supervise employed by the entity for which the supervisee works; exemption requests can be found in the application packet. In all cases, supervision is to be carried out by someone who is not family and does not have a relationship that would bias his or her assessment.
Supervisee and supervisor should both take care to ensure that standards are met. Sample session forms can be downloaded from the Board website.
Up to 90 clinical hours may be provided through videoconferencing or through a combination of videoconferencing and telephone; of these, no more than 15 may be by telephone.
Some supervision may be provided in a small group setting. However, at least 25 must be individual and no more than 50 may take place in a group larger than two.
The Board website includes a list of supervisors who have requested registry placement (http://www.azbbhe.us/node/23).
The supervised social worker will need to be rated as at least ‘satisfactory’.
The Application Process
Applications and detailed instructions can be downloaded from the website of the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (http://www.azbbhe.us/node/557).
Applicants will need official transcripts verifying their degrees; an applicant who applies at the LMSW level, though, will not need to resubmit transcripts at the LCSW level.
A self-query of a national data bank will be necessary. The applicant will list past employers and credentials. He or she will verify any behavioral health credentials and any recent credentials held in other fields. Online verification will, in some cases, include the required information.
Applicants are required to document their legal residency.
Applications require notarization.
The application fee is $250. There is an additional fee for issuance of the license: $100 at the LBSW and LMSW levels, $250 at the LCSW level.
Renewal is biennial; licensees must meet continuing education requirements established by Board rule.
Social Work License by Endorsement in Arizona
Arizona statute makes provisions for endorsement of currently licensed social workers who have been licensed at the requisite level for three years, but there are experience requirements. The licensing agency expects these out-of-state social workers to have practiced for at least 3,600 hours during the prior five years. Licensure at the LCSW level is available only to those who hold master’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions; LCSW endorsement applicants include a copy of their transcript with their application package.
Requirements change periodically. Information is available from the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (http://www.azbbhe.us/). The Board can be reached at 602-542-1882.