The duties performed by a clinical social worker role are numerous and vary according to the particular setting in which they work. Overall, clinical social workers deliver therapy to individuals who are in need of mental or emotional support, as well as coordinate various other services to help meet individuals’ needs. Clinical social workers’ work environments vary widely depending on their employers; typical employers include hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, and substance abuse treatment centers.
The tasks that a clinical social worker performs throughout the day vary according to case load and setting. Often, the first encounter with a patient comes as the result of a social work referral from another professional or clinician. Initially, clinical social workers assess patients for psychological disorders, sometimes making a diagnosis. In addition, clinical social workers also typically analyze patients for difficulty in their daily lives. By combining both of these sets of information, clinical social workers formulate a treatment plan, often in conjunction with other clinicians. Clinical social workers give therapy to patients and refer them to additional supportive resources as needed.
Working as a clinical social worker generally requires a master’s degree in social work, as well as appropriate state-specific licensing or certification. A number of skills are critical for working as a clinical social worker. These include empathy, excellent communication and organizational skills, effective time management, and the ability to work well under stress.
Clinical Social Worker Tasks
- Communicate with patients and rehabilitation or care programs to ensure appropriate actions are taken.
- Conduct psychosocial evaluations and advise clinicians on social work matters.
- Coordinate patient interactions from patient care, discharge instructions, follow-up to aftercare information.
- Negotiate with payers, outreach, family, and third party groups to safeguard patients.