What is Clinical Social Work?

There are different mental health professionals who are qualified to provide interventions designed to remediate mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders, and address distresses which interfere with mental health and development. Among those professionals are psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed marital and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, psychiatric nurses, clinical social workers and other licensed professionals with mental health training.

A psychiatrist has a degree in medicine and can prescribe medication to treat mental illness. Not all psychiatrists provide psychotherapy.
The other professionals mentioned above cannot prescribe medications, but instead utilize psychotherapeutic methods within a professional relationship to assist the person.

Clinical Social Work practice has the goal of enhancement and maintenance of psychosocial functioning of individuals, families and groups. In addition to studying different theories of human behavior, Clinical Social Workers are specially trained to focus on person-and-environment in interaction.

The perspective of person-in-situation is central to Clinical Social Work practice. Clinical Social Work includes interventions directed to assist the person to achieve a better level of adaptation, to acquire greater realization of their potential, to modify internal (such as intrapsychic dynamics) and external conditions (such as interpersonal interactions) which may be affecting them in respect to behavior, emotions, and thinking. Treatment is directed at helping people increase their problem-solving and coping abilities so they can deal more adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth; in short, helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive functioning and social adjustment.