The nation’s 250,000 clinical social workers provide more behavioral healthcare, of more types and in more settings, than any other profession. Working in both the public and private sectors, including many non-profit programs, clinical social workers are the mainstay of the American mental healthcare system.
Clinical social workers typically provide bio-psychosocial services, including diagnosis and clinical treatment (e.g. psychotherapy), that are reimbursable under health insurance programs and by every major self-insured company in America. In the public sector, many agencies, departments, and programs specifically recognize Clinical Social Workers as direct, autonomous (non-supervised) providers of mental healthcare and related services.
Recognized with their own title, clinical social workers, and their own level of state licensure (to protect the public) in every state in the union, clinical social workers are mental healthcare professionals similar to clinical psychologists. While they are sometimes confused with other types of social worker, clinical social workers are very different in their services and professional attainments, which include board-certification signifying competence in clinical knowledge and skills.
In federal programs, clinical social workers—as distinct from social workers—are specifically named, and their services are described, in the laws and regulations governing the following:
- Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
- Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan
- Military Health Care System, including TRICARE
- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)
- Family and Medical Leave Act