Finally! A social work credential just for me!

A year after I graduated with my Master of Social Work degree, I passed my licensure test. Honestly, I think I felt more relief about finishing the licensure than about getting through graduate school–whereas I loved almost all of my classes at GWB, getting through the licensure exam meant, for me, two months of almost nightly studying so that I could be somewhat knowledgeable about clinical diagnosis, pharmacology, brief solution focused therapy, and a variety of other social work-related concepts to which I virtually no prior exposure. I took the licensure exam, really, because I knew that I wanted to supervise social work students, and because I believe in the importance of having a professional regulatory and monitoring system.

And, then, I pretty much forgot about it except for my panic every two years when I realized that I needed to finish my continuing education hours. For those hours, then, I am frustrated every cycle when I have so few choices for macro practice-related content; our state requires at least 7 hours of diagnosis and treatment continuing education credits, with no parallel requirement for anything regarding systems work or social change. I’ve learned something about treating eating disorders, childhood sexual abuse, and bipolar disorder, I guess, but I have to say that very little of what I’ve absorbed in CEUs for my license has ever helped me in my work.

So, you can imagine my excitement, when, in a meeting with our university’s practicum director, she pointed out that the National Association of Social Workers has made the ACSW (Academy of Certified Social Workers) credential a sort of “license for the experienced macro professional”.

Now, of course, this isn’t a license, but a credential (so it wouldn’t have saved me from that test!), but, as it has similar requirements for post-graduate practice and supervision as the clinical credential, I see it as exalting the stature of macro practitioners and, I hope, ultimately raising the profile of our contributions to the profession and our continuing education needs.

Mainly, I’m excited that NASW has recognized the unique skill set that experienced macro social workers bring to practice, and sought to distinguish these professionals within our field. At this point, I don’t see that our profession, or, certainly, macro practitioners, have so carved out a niche for ourselves that we are in a position to demand ACSW certification for those in macro practice, and we certainly don’t have the insurance reimbursement pressure to force the question the way that our clinical colleagues do. So I don’t foresee a tremendous financial incentive for credentialing, at least not yet.

But we’ll never get there without a movement towards increasing professionalization and recognition within our own field. I’d love to hear from those of you in macro practice now–do you have ACSW credentials? If not, why not? What might influence you to pursue it? What do you think, in general, about the idea of a macro practice recognition like this?

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