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Hawaii licenses social workers at three levels: Licensed Bachelor Social Worker (LBSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), and Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Licensure is required unless a person falls into an exemption category that is identified in state code.
All levels of licensure depend on education and examination. Additionally, the Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential is dependent on completion of a period of supervised practice. (The prospective LCSW can identify himself or herself as an intern during this time.)
Hawaii has identified a scope of practice for each category of practice. An LBSW can carry out a variety of activities, including resource identification, mediation, case management and casework intervention, and even social service program administration. At the LSW level, the scope includes additional roles such as 1) carrying out formal research directed toward social work programs and social systems and policies and 2) providing services designed to prevent biosocial dysfunction. The LSW can form diagnostic impressions, which are a little different than the diagnoses allowable at the LCSW level. The LCSW scope of practice includes psychotherapy and clinical diagnosis.
Education and Examination Requirements
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the programmatic accrediting agency for the social work profession. A Hawaii LBSW candidate is to show evidence of having completed a bachelor’s level program that is CSWE-accredited or equivalent. The CSWE has a unit for equivalency evaluation of foreign degrees.
A person can meet educational requirements for the LSW or LCSW by completing a master’s program that is CSWE-accredited or equivalent (CSWE Accredited Master’s of Social Work Programs in Hawaii). Also acceptable is a doctoral program housed in a regionally accredited university.
At the bachelor’s level, the prospective social worker will take the examination that is specifically designed for this level of practice. At the LSW level, a candidate may take any of the three higher examinations. The master level is the minimum. The candidate can instead opt for the advanced generalist exam or clinical exam. The clinical exam is the one that is required for the LCSW.
Normally a person applies to the licensing agency for permission to take the exam. Once approved, the candidate registers with the ASWB and pays fees. A candidate at the LBSW level will pay $230. A candidate at the clinical level will pay $260. (An LSW candidate may pay $230 or $260 depending on the exam he or she opts for.)
Examinations are scheduled through Pearson VUE. The Pearson VUE website currently lists one Hawaii testing location, in Honolulu (http://www.pearsonvue.com/aswb). There are sites around the nation. Examinations are scheduled on an ongoing basis. A candidate who has received an Authorization to Test from the ASWB may call Pearson VUE or submit registration materials. Online chat is available to those who wish for direct contact with customer service (http://www.pearsonvue.com/aswb/contact/).
The licensing agency is able to accept exam results for candidates who already took the required exam in another state.
Additional Requirements for Clinical Licensure
An LCSW must work under supervision for 3,000 hours.
There are alternative methods for demonstrating that experience requirements have been met. These rely on professional certification. They require a level of experience beyond that typically required for licensure. However, certification may be the desired method for some experienced social workers to demonstrate their expertise.
Supervised Practice Requirements for New Graduates: The 3,000 hours of supervised practice is to include at least 2,000 hours of psychotherapy, diagnosis, and clinical assessment. It may include up to 900 hours of consultation, evaluation, and client-centered advocacy. 100 hours is credited for meeting the minimum requirement for supervision.
Up to 40 hours of the required supervision may take place in a small group setting. No fewer than 60 are to be individual. The supervised practice requirement is to be met over a period of two to five years.
The supervisor is to be an experienced clinical social worker. Hawaii will allow some of the required supervision (potentially all) to be carried out electronically but advises candidates to also check the laws and regulations of other states where they may seek licensure. Electronic supervision will use video conferencing technology. It will need to be in compliance with HIPAA and other laws.
Accepted Certifications: The practice requirement is considered met if the applicant holds a credential as a Qualified Clinical Social Worker or Diplomate in Clinical Social Work through the National Association of Social Workers or is a Board Certified Diplomate through the American Board of Examiners.
NASW clinical social work credentials are only awarded to social workers who hold a current state license (https://www.socialworkers.org/Careers/Credentials-Certifications/Apply-for-NASW-Social-Work-Credentials/Diplomate-in-Clinical-Social-Work). They must have completed 4,500 hours/ three years of clinical experience. Additionally, they must be graduates of CSWE-accredited master’s programs. They will have had at least 20 hours of clinical coursework. They will have completed recent continuing education and will have secured references from colleagues. They will be current NASW members who subscribe to the code of ethics.BCD standards are similar but not identical (https://abecsw.org/certification/#BCD). The social worker must have practiced at least 100 hours in the prior year; 3,000 in the past decade. Total post-master hours will number at least 7,500. The social worker must be evaluated positively by peers.
The Application Process
Application materials can be downloaded from the website of Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing (http://cca.hawaii.gov/pvl/programs/socialworker/application_publications/).
The licensing agency will require an official transcript, sent directly from the school. An applicant who seeks credit for prior examination will request that the ASWB send them directly.
There is a $60 license application fee. The licensing fee will vary, depending on the stage of the license renewal period. Applicants who have already passed the examination required for their level will include the licensing fee with the application.
Social workers are under the jurisdiction of Hawaii Professional and Vocational Licensing (http://cca.hawaii.gov/pvl/programs/socialworker/). The Social Work Licensing Program can be reached at 808-586-2704.
Renewal is triennial. Hawaii now has a continuing education requirement.