The Department of Health licenses two types of social workers—independent clinical social workers and advanced social workers. To become licensed as either type of social worker, an applicant must have graduated from an approved master's or doctorate level social work educational program, passed an approved examination, and completed a supervised experience requirement.
The supervised experience requirement for independent clinical social workers consists of 4000 hours of experience under an approved supervisor. At least 1000 of those hours must have direct client contact and no more than 60 supervised hours may be completed through distance supervision.
The supervised experience requirement for advanced social workers consists of 3200 hours of experience under an approved supervisor. At least 800 of those hours must have direct client contact and no more than 40 hours may be completed through distance supervision.
The limitations on the number of supervised experience hours that a person pursuing a license as an independent clinical social worker or advanced social worker may complete through distance supervision are removed.
PRO: This bill will help social workers across Washington State complete the required supervision hours needed to obtain their license. Social worker supervisors take on a lot of responsibility and become responsible for their trainee which can make it difficult to find a supervisor willing to take on this responsibility. It is hard to find specialized supervisors in rural areas due to the limited number of social workers. Distance supervision will allow people across the state to complete their training and connect with supervisors who otherwise might be too far away. The pandemic has highlighted the problem with distance learning and this update to the statute will allow social workers to get the supervision they need to obtain their license.