Montana’s licensed social workers are highly educated – they must have graduate degrees. In fact, a master’s is just a step along the path. In order to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Montana social worker must fulfill a supervised practice requirement, take a licensing exam, and pass a criminal background check.
Montana now requires candidates to register before completing their supervised practice requirements.
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A prospective clinical social worker should select a graduate program that is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, or CSWE.
You may also want to read the article "Master’s Degree in Social Work: Developing Skills and Competencies" if you have any questions about Master's of Social Work programs.
After graduation, the candidate should seek a position where the candidate can apply clinical social work techniques. The candidate must work under a qualified supervisor: a clinical social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Before the candidate can achieve licensure, he or she will need to work at least 24 months and put in at least 3,000 hours. A minimum of 1,500 hours must be spent in direct contact with clients. The social worker may work part-time, but should complete requirements within five years – the Montana Board only counts experience that applicants have gained during the preceding five years.
The supervisee will need a total of 100 hours of direct supervision. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker must provide at least 50 hours of the required supervision. The remaining hours may be provided by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist. Supervision by a Licensed Professional Counselor is not permitted. The social worker in training may work no more than 160 hours without having two hours of supervision. Supervisor and supervisee are permitted to utilize communication methods like telephone and video conferencing that facilitate real time interaction.
At least 10 supervision hours must be spent reviewing delivery of social work services. The supervisor may attend a session or view it through a one way window; the viewing of audio or video tapes is also acceptable.
The supervisor and supervisee together maintain a log of supervision sessions. This log must be submitted to the Montana Board of Social Workers and Professional Counselors as part of the application process. (The form is included in the application packet; it can be downloaded from the site by clicking here and photocopied as needed.)
The prospective social worker turns in a candidate application before commencing supervised practice. Initial supervision paperwork is submitted at this time. Forms can be downloaded from the Board website.
The applicant will also need three reference letters from mental health professionals. One letter must come from a supervisor. The other two may be from social workers, psychiatrists, or psychologists.
The candidate must have a criminal background check done as part of the licensing process. The candidate may call the Board office to request the fingerprinting packet. It includes a release form as well as a fingerprint card.
The candidate must wait until they have received Board approval before taking the licensing exam. At this stage, the candidate will contact the Association of Social Work Boards to register, pay fees, and schedule a session. Exams are computerized and available on an ongoing basis. Approval grants a one year window. The candidate will take the clinical examination. (It should be noted that some states use the advanced generalist exam for macro and the clinical exam for those who diagnose mental illness and do psychotherapy.)
Applicants who have been licensed in other jurisdictions must have a verification form sent directly to the Montana Board. Endorsement candidates should verify one of two things: their supervised practice or their recent work experience. The Montana Board will accept an affidavit if it is not possible to get a hold of the supervisor.
Applications must be submitted with a $200 fee. Fingerprinting carries a $29.25 fee. Montana LCSWs must renew their licenses on an annual basis. They need to do 20 hours of continuing education during the renewal cycle.
If you are still in High School, hold a High School Diploma/GED, or hold a bachelor's degree, check out suggested steps to take along the path to become a Social Worker in Montana.