Frequently Asked Questions for Clinical Social Workers


What is ABE?
What is ABE’s Connection to the Center for Clinical Social Work?
What is the BCD certification?
What are ABE's Specialty Credentials?
What does ABE do for clinical social workers?
What does the BCD do for clinical social workers?
What is the BCD application process?
What's the difference between the BCD and other certifications?
Why does a state-licensed clinician need the BCD?
What is the role of the BCD in the mental health arena?



What is ABE?
The American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (ABE) is a national, independent nonprofit certification organization dedicated solely to advanced clinical social work. With volunteer board members and a full-time staff, ABE promotes uniform national standards to the profession and the healthcare delivery system, maintains an online BCD directory of its certificants, and advocates for all of advanced clinical social work.

back to top


What is ABE’s Connection to the Center for Clinical Social Work?
ABE is a unit of the Center for Clinical Social Work, a not-for-profit organization. ABE’s focus is on certification, at the advanced-generalist and specialist levels. The Center’s main purposes are to promote clinical social work as a profession and to advance it in all settings by developing practice standards and credentials, advocating for practitioners and their clients, and enhancing opportunities for research, education, and training.

back to top


What is the BCD certification?
The Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (BCD) is an advanced-practice certification that embodies the highest standards in the field in the areas of clinical education, training, and experience. Prospective BCD clinicians are required to have the following minimum qualifications (summarized):

  • Master's (or doctoral) degree in social work with coursework and fieldwork focused on direct practice
  • State licensure at the highest clinical level available in the state(s) where the clinician practices unless exempted by law or terms of government employment
  • Five years/7,500 hours' post-graduate clinical social work practice, including 3,000 hours under supervision (1,500 hours supervised by an advanced clinical social worker)
  • 40 hours of clinical continuing education in the past three years, (standard is waived if licensed in a state not requiring CE by law)
  • Since 1997, successful completion of an application process with clinical peer evaluations.

BCD clinicians recertify annually on the basis of currency of direct practice, 20 hours of continuing clinical education, maintenance of licensure in good standing (if applicable), and adherence to ABE's Code of Ethics.

back to top


What are ABE's Specialty Credentials?
ABE offers clinical social work specialty credentials in Practice with Children & their Families and in Psychoanalysis. These credentials are offered to BCD clinicians who have the skill and knowledge required for specialty practice. The competency-based application process includes confidential evaluations by professional colleagues.

back to top


What does ABE do for clinical social workers?

ABE sets and safeguards national clinical social work standards, and awards and promotes the BCD certification and specialty credentials. ABE also maintains the OnLine BCD Directory, which presents each BCD clinician in terms of education, training, experience, and practice areas. The Directory may be searched and sorted electronically by key-words or any other set of discriminators, and results may be downloaded in order to offer practice and referral opportunities to BCD clinicians.

ABE advocates for advanced clinical social work with state and federal government (courts, regulators, legislatures, agencies), and intervenes with any system that discriminates against board-certified clinical social workers or their clients. ABE markets the services of BCD clinicians to employers and referral-makers, tracks the activities of the healthcare industry, and attends and presents at conferences.


back to top


What does the BCD do for clinical social workers?
The BCD permits an advanced practitioner to stand apart from other licensees—to be identified with a national mark of excellence in clinical social work practice. Beyond professional recognition, the BCD offers Professional Liability Insurance (10% discount for full-time BCD clinicians), including highly desirable occurrence coverage administered by Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO). The BCD also generates referrals and other reimbursable opportunities; confers distinction in court and university settings; and meets the national standards for quality care needs of the healthcare industry. In addition, ABE conducts annual recertification of all its certificants, a unique requirement that gives the BCD-holder preferred status in the marketplace.

back to top


What is the BCD application process?
The BCD application process examines the candidate’s competence as an advanced practitioner in these three areas:

  1. academic and practice background
  2. continuing clinical education
  3. practice abilities, rated by confidential evaluations by clinical peers

The Board’s mandate is to assess the candidate’s practice-related competence rather than the type of knowledge measured by a multiple-choice test.


back to top


What's the difference between the BCD and other certifications?
The BCD certification is the gold standard in clinical social work—it is rigorous in criteria, and is the most intensely promoted and widely recognized. As the emblem of clinical competence at the advanced level and of unique annual recertification, the certification is highly valued by referral-makers, including national payor systems, to which it has been professionally marketed since 1990. Knowing that BCD clinicians are annually verified by ABE to be current in practice at the advanced and specialty practice level(s) in good standing, insurance companies and other payors tend to give them preference when filling provider panels and offering other opportunities for reimbursable practice. Insurance companies and other payors may access ABE's OnLine BCD Directory FREE of CHARGE, which gives BCD clinicians thousands more opportunities for referrals than does any other directory in the field of mental-emotional healthcare!

back to top


Why does a state-licensed clinician need the BCD?
The BCD is a national certification, crossing all state lines with a uniform set of advanced criteria—any payor doing business nationwide or regionally will have a keen interest in the BCD. Licensure criteria are variable and pitched at the entry level of practice; by contrast, the BCD embodies uniform standards and is a means of distinguishing high levels of practice competence. Few state regulatory agencies publish their databases, and none markets them; ABE publishes detailed personalized profiles about all BCD clinicians in the OnLine BCD Directory and markets them nationwide to payors and professionals.

back to top


What is the role of the BCD in the mental health arena?
Insurance companies, managed-care organizations, public and private agencies, hospitals, EAPs, professionals, and others use the BCD to identify highly competent clinical social workers to whom to make referrals and extend preferential practice opportunities.
back to top


 
 

 Privacy Policy • Terms of Use • Contact UsSite Map Resources & LinksFAQ's

241 Humphrey Street, Marblehead, MA 01945  •  800-694-5285  •   645 Broadway, Suite C, Sonoma, CA 95476
© Center for Clinical Social Work. All rights reserved.