Montana licenses clinical social workers. Those who are working toward meeting post-degree licensure within the state are regulated as Social Work Licensure Candidates. Licensure is dependent on education, supervised experience, and examination. Licensees must also evidence good character.
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Educational Standards and Options
The prospective clinical social worker will need to earn a master’s or doctoral degree from a program that holds accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (See: Master’s of Social Work Programs in Montana). The CSWE has provided a directory of accredited programs around the nation (https://www.cswe.org/Accreditation/Directory-of-Accredited-Programs.aspx).
While Montana does not license social workers at the bachelor’s level, there are accredited social work programs in the state that prepare graduates for entry-level practice. Indeed, having a social work degree at the bachelor’s level sometimes expedites the process.
Prospective LCSWs must accrue 3,000 hours of supervised practice. The total supervised experience period will be at least two years. At least 1,500 hours are to be comprised of direct client contact; the individual will employ psychosocial methods. In order to be credited, experience must take place within a five-year period.
Montana candidates are regulated as Social Worker Licensure Candidates (SWLCs). SWLCs work under training plans. The initial plan is subject to Board approval. The Board is to be apprised of major changes. Registration is renewed each year.
The supervisee will have a supervisor who is responsible for his or her practice in the ways described in state code (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/ChapterHome.asp?Chapter=24%2E219). The supervisor will, for example, review assessment results and interpretations. ,/p.
In some cases, an individual will have more than one supervisor. Clinical supervisors must meet requirements described in state code. A psychologist or psychiatrist might be approved.
The supervisee will need 100 total hours of supervision. The supervisor will directly observe the supervisee for at least 10 hours; the supervisor may be present at the session or make observations through unedited recordings.
Some group supervision is permitted, but at least half of the required hours must be both face-to-face and individual; these 50 hours, moreover, are to be under the supervision of an LCSW.
The candidate is to have a minimum of two hours of supervision during every 160 hours. If unusual circumstances preclude this, the Candidate is to seek Board approval.
The Application and Examination Process
A person who is meeting first-time licensing requirements in Montana will first apply at the Social Work Licensure Candidate Level. He or she will submit a training and supervision plan. Transcripts are also due at this stage.
A person submits an application for LCSW after completing all requirements (save for examination, which is completed after application and under Board regulation).
The applicant will need three reference letters. Letters are to come from professionals who practice social work, psychology, or psychiatry. At least one is to be from a supervisor.
The LCSW application fee is $200.
Routine applications are typically reviewed quickly, within about 14 business days. Non-routine applications take longer. (This information is as of late 2017.)
Once approved, the candidate will register to take the clinical exam with the Association of Social Work Boards. A fee, currently $260, will be assessed. The ASWB has provided candidate bulletins and other preparatory materials. The candidate will schedule the examination at his or her convenience through Pearson VUE. Currently, the website lists two Montana testing centers: Billings and Helena (http://www.pearsonvue.com/aswb/). The appointment can be made at any authorized testing center, however; it does not have to be in Montana.
Approval is granted for a year. Montana allows only three examination attempts unless the Board agrees to a candidate request; in this instance, remediation may be required.
Montana requires fingerprint-based criminal background checks. Applicants are directed to contact the Board for fingerprinting packets. Individuals working in-state are fingerprinted at the candidate level.
License by Endorsement
An endorsement candidate is to provide verification from all states of licensure, past or current. The licensing agency will seek evidence of either supervised practice or recent professional experience. In some cases, supervision may be accepted on the basis of an affidavit by the applicant.
Endorsement candidates are expected to meet basic standards. Montana mandates that clinical counselors pass the ASWB clinical exam or other equivalent exam. The ASWB advanced generalist exam is not accepted for licensing purposes.
Generally, Montana expects annual continuing education. Some hours, though, may be carried forward to the next year (http://www.mtrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?RN=24%2E219%2E2101).
Montana Licensed Clinical Social Workers are under the regulation of the Board of Behavioral Health. Questions can be directed to the Board by telephone at 406-841-2391 or 406-841-2392 or by email at ‘dlibsdswp at mt.gov’.
The National Association of Social Workers-Montana is the state chapter of a national professional association. NASW-Montana does not have licensing responsibilities but has provided resources about the Montana licensing process (http://naswmt.org/resources/licensure-the-mt-board-of-social-work-examiners-professional-counselors/). NASW-Montana is also a resource with regard to clinical supervisors.
Standards and requirements are subject to change. Formal candidacy status, for example, is a relatively recent requirement.