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Colorado licenses clinical social workers and those individuals who are working toward clinical licensure.
A prospective LSW or LCSW will need to earn a degree at the master’s or doctoral level. Master’s programs are to be accredited by the CSWE (See: Master’s in Social Work Programs in Colorado); doctoral programs are to be located within CSWE-accredited programs.
If education was obtained internationally, it will need to be evaluated for equivalency.
Supervised Practice Requirements
The prospective LCSW will work under supervision for a minimum of 24 months following completion of the qualifying degree.
During the work period, the social worker will accrue at least 3,360 hours. At least half of the required hours will involve professional relationships with responsibilities drawn from the following: treatment, counseling, assessment, diagnosis, and testing. The role could include helping people resolve conflicts, understand motivations, alleviate mental disorder, and modify their behaviors to improve functioning.
The candidate will need at least 96 hours of supervision over the course of the post-graduate practice period; this is very slightly less than the minimum standard set by many states. Hours are to be “reasonably distributed”. At least half of the hours are to be both individual and face-to-face.
The supervisor should be an LCSW or have the highest social work credential available from his or her jurisdiction.
At the end of the supervisory period, the supervisor will sign a statement that the practice requirement has been satisfactorily completed and the candidate has demonstrated generally accepted practice standards.
Alternate Social Work Credentialing: Hours may be credited that were accrued while an individual was registered as an unlicensed psychotherapist in Colorado. The Colorado Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, state chapter of a national professional organization, notes, however, that they do not recommend this method (http://www.naswco.org/?page=A6).
There is a separate provisional licensure (SWP) for social workers whose sole employment is at a residential child care facility.
In all cases, the graduate will need to be in legal compliance with credentialing mandates before beginning practice.
Prospective Colorado LCSWs take both a national licensing examination and a state jurisprudence examination. Examination is required at the LSW level.
In many cases, individuals will take two national examinations en route to the LCSW license. At the LSW level, the licensing agency can accept any ASWB examination at the intermediate (master’s) level or higher. At the clinical level, the master’s level exam is not sufficient. The National Association of Social Workers-Colorado lists the clinical examination as the necessary one, though some materials from the licensing agency list the advanced generalist exam as adequate. An applicant for Colorado licensure who has taken the advanced generalist exam may wish to contact the licensing agency about its acceptance.
Colorado allows candidates to contract directly with the national testing organization. They may begin the process by visiting the ‘Colorado’ page of the ASWB website (https://www.aswb.org/colorado/).
The ASWB has made candidate guides available. A tutorial has been provided to familiarize test takers with software features. Examinations are available at Pearson VUE testing centers around the nation. The exam is four hours; the appointment somewhat longer.
The Colorado Board allows candidates who are unsuccessful at the national exam to retake it, subject to ASWB policy. (The ASWB mandates a 90-day wait period after an unsuccessful attempt.)
The fee is $260 for the ASWB clinical examination ($230 for the master’s exam); a candidate who retakes the exam pays the fee again.
The state jurisprudence exam is open book and can be completed online. The candidate will need to register with Iso-Quality Testing. The fee is $20. Fee payment grants a 60-day examination window. Failure will necessitate payment of another fee. A brief wait-time is imposed between attempts.
The test covers topics such as mental health statutes, Board rules, confidentiality, and emergency procedures. Items are weighted, according to their level of importance for the entry-level practitioner.
The licensing agency notes that licensure at the LCSW level is dependent on having passed the most current version of the state jurisprudence exam.
The Application Process
Application is online. Checklists are available for download (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/Social_Work_Applications).
The applicant will need to complete a profile through the Healthcare Professions Profiling Program; this is first done at the LSW level.
Applicants should be prepared to upload verification of having successfully completed the jurisprudence exam.
There is a $70 application processing fee.
In some cases, the licensing agency will notify applicants about requirements that have not yet been documented.
Endorsement of Out-of-State Social Workers
Applicants must provide information about any licenses they have held in related fields. It is the current preference that the verification be scanned and submitted at the time of application.
Colorado has provisions in place for endorsement of out-of-state social workers at the level appropriate to their credentials.
Currently licensed social workers may be endorsed into Colorado at the LSW level if they completed a qualifying master’s program and passed a suitable examination. The licensing agency notes that the ASWB bachelor’s level examination is not sufficient for endorsement.
Colorado licensees participate in a continuing professional development program. A variety of activities may be credited. These are outlined in state code.
Colorado social workers are under the jurisdiction of the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/dora/Social_Work). The Board may be reached by telephone at 303-894-7800 or by email at ‘dora_mentalhealthboard at state.co.us’.
Colorado has provisions to allow individuals to request declaratory order when there is some uncertainty about how a law or rule should be interpreted.