What is the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work?

If you are considering specializing your social work career in assessing, diagnosing, and treating problems that interfere with individuals’ healthy bio-psychosocial functioning, then it is important that you learn about the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABE). As a unit of the Center for Clinical Social Work, the ABE is the national standard-setting organization that promotes the practice standards and issues credentials for clinical social workers. The ABE is committed to establishing uniform national standards for education and training in the area of social work to guarantee individuals have the practice competencies and ethics to enhance our nation’s mental health. If you have received the calling to join this growing field, below is a comprehensive overview of everything you should know about the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.

All About the ABE

First founded in 1987 as the national credentialing unit for the Center for Clinical Social Work, the ABE is headquartered in Marblehead, MA to issue advanced certification to social workers who exhibit the characteristics and meet the national standards needed to excel in clinical practice. Beyond delivering standards-based national certifications, the ABE is also involved in educating the public about the value of these credentials and maintains an online directory of board certified professionals for referring the public to high-quality mental health services. At times, the ABE will conduct outreach programs or conferences in healthcare systems to educate service users, distribute information about their services, interact with professionals, and intervene in solving any problems of discrimination.

Benefits of ABE Board Certification

Earning the Board Certified Diplomate (BCD) in Clinical Social Work from the ABE is the national hallmark for high-quality mental health practice that is recognized by insurance carriers, healthcare professionals, court systems, and the public. ABE board certification is designed to designate the individuals who have proven their competency in practicing advanced generalist clinical social work at the highest level of expertise. As a result, holding the BCD credential will provide social workers with professional prestige, continuing clinical education, stronger client confidence, and recognition within the ABE’s referrals directory. Since board certified clinical social workers provide a higher level of mental health services with less risk, earning the BCD will also enable professionals to qualify for liability insurance at 10% discount.

Qualifications to Become Board Certified

Within the ABE, clinical social workers have the option of pursuing one of four different advanced practice certifications, which include Advanced Generalist Practice, Practice with Children and their Families, Practice in Clinical Supervision, or Practice in Psychoanalysis. In order to qualify for any of the board certifications, professionals will need to possess at least a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree focused on direct practice from an accredited school. Applicants must also have valid state licensure at the highest clinical level available, complete 40 hours of clinical continuing education, have at least five years of post-graduate clinical social work practice, and successfully pass clinical peer evaluations.

Resource: What are the Licensing Requirements for Social Workers?

Overall, the ABE is a national organization that is focused on providing credentials for clinical social workers in any practice and at all levels of professional development as the national voice of the profession. In order to distinguish yourself from other social workers in your community, it is highly recommended that you consider receiving board certification from the American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work.

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