Arizona Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) Guide - 2023
AKA: Arizona LCSW License
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If you’re a social worker in Arizona looking to advance your career into clinical practice, you might consider pursuing the most advanced license. The Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) title requires an advanced degree beyond the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). The advanced clinical degree in social work for Arizonians is the same as licensed master social workers (LMSW): the Master of Social Work (MSW). The difference comes in with the required clinical hours for the LCSW license.
Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Arizona will significantly expand your scope of practice by giving you the authority to diagnose and treat mental disorders without physician supervision. As an LCSW, you’re more likely to be providing therapy for individuals or families
and it is common to have your own practice or work in other clinics and mental health facilities. Working as an LCSW in Arizona is highly focused on patient care and rarely requires travel.
Another aspect that is unique to the LCSW license is that once you are fully licensed, you are qualified to supervise LMSWs in direct patient care or other LCSWs going through the clinical supervision requirements.
There are four steps to earning your LCSW license in Arizona.
Earning your license in Arizona as an LCSW requires completion of a Council of Social Work Education (CSWE)-accredited master’s program in social work. Below are three Master of Social Work (MSW) programs inside Arizona that are CSWE-accredited.
Find all social work degree programs in Arizona.
Verify that your educational program qualifies for Arizona licensure by conducting a CSWE search. Even if you find your program on the CSWE search, you should also check with the Arizona licensing board before enrolling to ensure that you will be able to obtain your license with the program.
Your approved MSW program geared toward LCSW licensure will include a focus on advanced assessment and patient care. With some programs, you can complete your MSW in as little as one year if added to your existing CSWE-accredited BSW degree.
While clinical experience is not always required to obtain your MSW degree for all programs, it is required by the board before licensure as an LCSW. It may be beneficial to choose an MSW program that includes clinical internships, such as those available at ASU, which require between 480 and 960 hours of fieldwork. Once you’ve earned your Master’s in Social Work, you are one step closer to licensure in Arizona.
The Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners requires a minimum amount of work experience and clinical supervision within two years in order to be fully licensed as an LCSW in the state. Direct contact means face-to-face time working with patients to assess, diagnose, and treat. Clinical supervision counts as hours when a board-approved senior LCSW or clinical supervisor (licensed psychologist, for example).
The supervisor must be pre-approved by the board for the hours to count. You can search the board’s Clinical Supervisor Registry to find approved supervisors. Within two years before applying for your license, you must document the following experience:
The senior LCSW or other approved supervisor must sign off on the hours on forms to include with your application. The clinical supervision must be performed by five or fewer approved supervisors. These forms confirm your competency in the following skills: documentation, consultation, collaboration, and coordination of care. Verification forms, which will be required for your licensure application, can be found on the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners website.
There are some situations where an exemption to the clinical supervision or work experience is warranted, such as completing your hours outside of the state of Arizona. Familiarize yourself with Arizona’s exemptions rules for further direction if you are unsure about your clinical supervision situation. Fill out a clinical supervisor exemption request online prior to starting clinical supervision whenever possible. Once you’ve completed your required clinical experience, you’re ready for the next step in licensure: applying for your license.
Start the process by first filling out a paper application for your license with the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners, who will grant permission for you to take the licensing exam. In some situations, you may have already taken the exam. In such a case, you can mark that in Part VII on the application allows you to select whether you have taken the exam. You will be instructed to send your official scores to the state licensing board. If you haven’t taken the exam, you will be provided further instructions on scheduling the exam after you submit your application.
The application for your LCSW license includes the following sections:
Some parts of your application can be submitted online, such as documentation for Part VI, supervision and clinical experience. If you’re already licensed in Arizona as an LMSW and have paid the fee for license renewal within 90 days, you can complete the waiver on the first page of the LCSW application and do not need to pay the application fee with this new license. To submit your application, there is a $250 application fee plus a $40 fingerprint processing fee. Fees can be paid online or by mail.
After submitting your application and paying the fees, you can check the status of your application on the board’s website. Your application will be reviewed at a Committee Board meeting and you’ll be notified when you are approved to register for the licensure exam.
To become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Arizona, you must pass the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) Clinical Examination. The fee to take this exam is $260. Once you’re approved by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners to test, you will need to register with ASWB and schedule your exam at a Pearson Vue testing center. Be mindful of expiration dates on any letters that you receive from official organizations regarding your testing. ASWB will send your results to the Arizona board within two weeks, which completes the LCSW licensure process.
Congratulations, you’ve now completed the final step toward earning your LCSW license! To keep your license active, you must renew it every two years through the Center for Continuing Education (CCE) along with 30 hours of continuing education credits. The renewal fee is $325 plus a $25 one-time fee for the mandatory Arizona Statutes/Regulations tutorial which also counts as 3 CE credit hours.
Social workers are special people who help others during their most vulnerable times in life. If you’ve chosen a career as a licensed social worker in Arizona, we have provided the resources above so that a clear path is laid out, showing you how to achieve your licensure in the state.