Georgia licenses social workers whose educational attainment is at the master’s or doctoral level. There are two licenses: Master’s Social Worker (MSW) and Clinical Social Worker (CSW). License is by examination. The clinical license carries a supervised practice requirement; Georgia’s is slightly higher than that of many states.
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Prospective licensees are to enroll in master’s programs that are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (Master’s in Social Work programs in Georgia). Education can also be accepted if the program held candidacy status.
It is expected that clinical licensees will have had sufficient training/ education/ experience in diagnosis. A social worker who works with individuals with mental illness, substance abuse issues, or developmental disorders falls under state curriculum mandates. The requirement for coursework that supports diagnosis may be met through a single graduate course or training program. The Board may request additional information when it is not clear that the required content has been included.
Supervised Practice for Clinical Licensure
Clinical licensure is dependent on completion of a post-degree work period under supervision.
With a qualifying master’s but no doctoral degree, the graduate will need the equivalent of three years of full-time post-degree supervised practice. A distinction is made between clinical supervision and direction; direction involves administrative oversight. At least the first two years of supervised practice must also be under direction. The supervisee will need at least 120 hours of supervision over the course of the supervisory period. At least half the required supervision is to be under an LCSW who meets specific state mandates. At least half the required supervision is to be individual. Supervisor and supervisee are both responsible for maintaining records of supervision. The actual time period for supervised practice may range from 36 months to 108 months.
There is some difference in requirements for a candidate who also holds a doctoral degree in social work or a closely related field. Accepted fields include marriage and family therapy, psychiatric nursing, professional counseling, pastoral counseling, applied psychology, applied child/ family development, and medicine. If the doctoral program included a clinical internship, education may be accepted in lieu of one year of experience. The applicant will be expected to demonstrate at least two years of supervised, directed post-master experience. An individual who is responsible for documenting just two years of supervised practice will document at least 80 hours of supervision. In this instance, the actual post-master supervision period may last up to 72 months. It may be completed in as few as 24 months.
The Examination Process
Required examinations are those of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Licensure at the Master’s level is dependent on passing the Master’s examination. Licensure at the Clinical level is dependent on passing the Clinical examination.
The Application Process
Applicants are advised to read Georgia regulations.
Georgia allows examination retakes with some limits. Each attempt incurs an examination fee: $230 at the master’s level, $260 at the clinical level. Authorized candidates can schedule examinations at any participating testing center, in Georgia or another state.
Application materials can be found on the website of the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists (http://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/plbforms.asp?board=41).
There is now an online application process available to graduates who are applying by examination at the Master’s level. Some supplemental materials will still be required. The Board has provided an instruction sheet which includes some cautions about the order in which materials are to be requested. A qualified master’s graduate can be permitted to begin practicing under supervision and direction prior to examination.
The qualifying official transcript is to be sent directly from the school. It may be sent electronically to the address listed in the application packet.
The Board requires references from teachers or supervisors; reference forms are included in the application packet.
The applicant will submit a consent form for a background check. Applicants who have histories of arrest, disciplinary action, and or substance abuse treatment will need to provide explanatory materials.
At the clinical level, clinical supervision and administrative supervision/ direction will both be documented.
There is a $100 application fee. This is the same for licensure at the master level or clinical level.
Applicants are directed to provide an email address. Application status can be monitored online.
Out-of-State Social Workers
The Board will seek official verification from each state where the applicant has been licensed.
Georgia does not have specific endorsement or reciprocity for social workers. A social worker who has already taken the exam may apply by examination waiver. The ASWB can be reached at 888-579-3926.
The application packet includes a form for social workers who are unable to document past supervision after diligent effort.
Georgia LMSWs and LCSWs are licensed by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists (http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/licensing/plb/43). The Board can be reached at (478) 207-2440.
Licensure is governed by statute, regulation, and policy. Information changes periodically.