Connecticut licenses social workers at the master’s and clinical levels. Those who seek credentialing as Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) are licensed first at the Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) level.
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Licensure is necessary for those who wish to practice clinical social work. The scope of practice of a clinical social worker includes psychotherapy and mental health consultation; LCSWs can diagnose biopsychosocial dysfunctions and disorders, including emotional disorder and addictive disorder. A graduate degree is required.
Individuals who graduate from bachelor’s level programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), though, are allowed to practice nonclinical social work.
Educational Standards and Options
The prospective licensee will complete a CSWE-accredited master’s in social work program in Connecticut or doctoral social work program. The CSWE accreditation requirement does not apply to degrees attained outside the United States. However, the degree will need to be found equivalent.
The CSWE has provided a searchable directory of accredited programs (https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx).
Individuals who have earned CSWE-accredited social work degrees at the baccalaureate level may be granted advanced standing; this allows them to move through the master’s curriculum relatively quickly. Master’s level social work students may opt for concentrations such as addictions or children and families.
The Examination and Application Process
A person who seeks licensure as a clinical social worker in Connecticut will take an examination two times: once at the master’s level and once at the clinical level. The masters and clinical examinations are both available through the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). They are computer-delivered. Candidate guides are available on the ASWB website (https://www.aswb.org/exam-candidates/about-the-exams/). Software tutorials are also available. Candidates for whom English is a second language may request accommodations. The examination fee is $230 at the master’s level, $260 at the clinical level.
An individual may hold a temporary permit while waiting to take the master’s level examination. This status is valid for up to 120 days from the date the degree was attained. However, an individual who fails an examination attempt does not enjoy the privilege of working under this credential.
The licensing agency will need verification that the degree has been completed, whether in the form of a transcript or a letter from the program director or registrar.
Examination permission is granted at the state level. This necessitates application. The prospective Connecticut social worker will pay an initial application fee of $220.
The application is submitted online; a link can be found on the website of the Connecticut Department of Health (http://www.portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations/Masters-Level-Social-Worker/Licensing-Requirements). Supplemental documents are to be mailed to the Connecticut Department of Public Health in Hartford. The LCSW licensure page includes links for experience and supervision verification forms (http://www.portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations/Socialworker/LCSW-Licensing-Requirements). These forms are to be sent directly from the source (the employer or supervisor).
Examinations are available by appointment at Pearson VUE testing centers. The Pearson VUE website shows three Connecticut locations (Wethersfield, Wallingford, and Norwalk). Some candidates may be better served by locations in New York, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island.
A person who holds licensure as an LMSW must work under professional supervision. Supervision may be provided by professionals with various credentials: clinical social worker, marriage and family therapist, professional counselor, psychologist, physician, or advanced practice registered nurse. However, there is a requirement that 100 hours be under the supervision of an LCSW or Certified Independent Social Worker.
During the time that the social worker holds LMSW licensure, his or her diagnoses will be made in consultation with a qualified professional (e.g. counselor, psychologist). The candidate will have a monthly review by a professional supervisor.
The minimum number of supervised hours is 3,000.
A candidate who has held licensure in another state will need to provide license verification. This form is also sent directly from the source. The Department of Public Health recommends contacting the out-of-state agency about fees that may be assessed for verification.
Endorsement is available to master’s and clinical level social workers who are licensed in states that have standards at least substantially equivalent to those of Connecticut.
The licensing agency notes that three years of licensed clinical experience, if properly documented , may be accepted in lieu of the traditional experience/ supervision requirements (http://www.portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations/Socialworker/LCSW-Licensing-Requirements).
Connecticut has set continuing education requirements. Much of the coursework is at licensee discretion but must be related to social work practice. However, the licensee will need to complete coursework in required areas such as cultural competency. There are some limits placed on online learning and home study. The continuing education requirements may be waived in some circumstances.
There have been significant changes in recent years. The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the best source for current information (http://www.portal.ct.gov/DPH/Practitioner-Licensing–Investigations/Socialworker/Social-Work-Licensure). The Practice Act is available online.
The Practitioner Licensing and Investigations Section can be reached by telephone at (860) 509-7603 or by email at ‘oplc.dph at ct.gov’; email is noted as the preferred form of communication.