Psychiatric Social Worker Jobs & Career Guide 2023

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By Staff Writer
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What Is a Psychiatric Social Worker?

Psychiatric social work is a subset of social work. These specialized social workers work with people with severe mental illnesses, addictions, and neurological problems. Their patients are often in emotional distress while struggling with complicated, difficult disorders. Psychiatric Social Workers are often caring for individuals with major traumas and emotional distress who may be a danger to themselves or others in their community.

A Psychiatric Social Worker can support, therapize, or coordinate care for the individuals they’re treating. Their patients often require hospitalization or other psychiatric interventions. Their ultimate job function is getting people with severe mental health issues the support they need to function.

What Is a Psychiatric Social Worker Responsible For?

Generally, a Psychiatric Social Worker will complete a detailed intake of their patient to assess their mental state. This may involve an entire team of professionals, like psychiatrists and neuropsychologists, depending on their patient’s condition. Their information, along with the rest of the group’s, helps determine an appropriate treatment plan for the person.

After the treatment plan is developed, the Psychiatric Social Worker ensure their patient follows through with it. They may even be a part of the plan. For instance, their role could be providing therapy to the individual.

Outside of patient interaction, Psychiatric Social Workers are often speaking to the person’s family members. They give updates about their patient’s condition, their progress within the treatment plan, and provide education about what the person is experiencing with their condition. They may also run support groups for the patient’s family.

If their patient is hospitalized, a Psychiatric Social Worker will likely be involved with their discharge and transition to reenter society.

There are a multitude of tasks a Psychiatric Social Worker could be responsible for completing. Depending on where they work, they might be specialized in one of these functionalities or all of them.

On the job, a Psychiatric Social Worker can expect to”

  • Complete patient assessments and use these to help develop treatment plans.
  • Communicate with an interdisciplinary team about the patient’s care and how they are functioning within their treatment plan.
  • Document a person’s psychiatric care.
  • Meet with the patient’s family (likely alongside another member of their medical team) to discuss their progress.
  • Lead educational classes about medical wellness and mental health.

Where Does a Psychiatric Social Worker Work?

With this career, there are plenty of options of where to work.  Psychiatric Social Workers are most commonly found in some kind of care setting: hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers (both inpatient and outpatient), government settings (local and state), substance abuse clinics, jails, and outpatient healthcare locations.

What Other Career Options Are Available to a Psychiatric Social Worker?

Being a Psychiatric Social Worker means having a choice in two important factors: the population they want to work with and the type of facility where they’d like to practice. The job can be focused on a singular issue or on a larger set of problems. It depends on their preference.

A Psychiatric Social Worker can expect to find a career in the following areas:

  • Inpatient Psychiatric Social Workers: These social workers are often employed by a psychiatric department within a hospital system. They treat hospitalized patients with psychosis, addictions, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other severe psychological or behavior problems. Their work includes completing assessments about a patient’s well-being and health needs, providing therapy, and cooperating with other members of the patient’s care team. They’re advocates for their patients.
  • Psychiatric Emergency Services and Crisis Response Social Workers: In this social work niche, patients are in active crisis. Crisis Response Social Workers give assessments, provide short-term support, and coordinate care. After determining their patient’s needs, they may recommend an involuntary hospitalization. It depends on the severity of the individual. They are often working with people who are a danger to themselves or others.
  • Outpatient Psychiatric Social Workers: When a person with severe mental illness doesn’t currently need to be hospitalized, they work with an Outpatient Psychiatric Social Worker. These social workers have patients with a range of issues who are either at risk for hospitalization or were recently released from an inpatient program.

What Degree Is Required to Become a Psychiatric Social Worker? What Do They Study?

Getting into psychiatric social work will require earning a college degree — both undergrad and graduate. Prospective students normally major in psychology or social work for their bachelor’s degree. Then, they’ll earn a master’s in a subject like mental health or psychiatric social work.

With their two degrees in hand, the next step is getting their social work license. This requires an internship and thousands of hours of supervised social work activities. Once they’ve earned their license, they’ll need to keep it current. These rules vary by state, but Psychiatric Social Workers can expect to attend a certain number of classes that cover social work issues.

What Skills are Required in Psychiatric Social Work?

This subset of psychology is known for its difficult patients and challenging, yet depressing, situations. Being a Psychiatric Social Worker requires an individual who has patience, empathy (within boundaries), and a strong sense of resolve.

Choosing this career path also means choosing to be tolerant of others’ situations. Psychiatric Social Workers must be able to meet people where they are with a nonjudgmental attitude.

Practicing in this niche requires plenty of critical thinking and rationality as well. This is the type of career where workers learn much more in the field than they do in school. College is only a jumping off point — the environment is the real classroom.

How Much Money Does a Psychiatric Social Worker Earn?

On average, a Psychiatric Social Worker can expect to make $52,891. Based on location and experience level, their salaries can vary from $30,000 for entry level positions to $90,000 for senior positions.

The social work field is expected to expand by 12 percent — which is faster compared to other job sectors. This growth is influenced by the United States’ ever-growing need for healthcare and social services. See also: Psychology jobs salary guide

Latest Psychiatric Social Worker Jobs & Career Guide 2023 Listings

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Position Company Location Posted
ED Pediatric Adolescent Crisis Evaluator (Pool/Per Diem) Nicklaus Children's Health System Miami, Florida 12/03/2023
DescriptionJob Summary Responsible for interventions involving psychiatric services and needs to Pediatric and Adolescent patients presenting to the Emergency Department for evaluation. Evaluates and collects accurate history of the illness, past mental health concerns, past and/or current psychiatric treatment, family history and thorough mental status examination. Provides crisis assessments/interventions and risk assessments to evaluate for services ... More
Psychotherapist Pacific Medical Centers Bothell, Washington 12/02/2023
Pacific Medical Centers is seeking a full-time Behavioral Health Specialist to join a dedicated, clinical Primary Care team in Bothell, Washington. This position focuses on seeing patients who are part of the PacMed AdvantAge program - which provides comprehensive primary care services to those that are 62 years old or older. Additionally, you will coordinate directly with a specialized care team located at the Canyon Park clinic as you provide both patient-centered psychotherapy and integrated ... More
Clinical Social Worker II - Ambulatory Services - Float, $15,000 Sign-on Bonus UM Medical Center Baltimore, Maryland 12/02/2023
Job ID: 108994 Area of Interest: Allied Health Location: Baltimore,MD USHours of Work: 8a-5p Job Facility: UM Medical Center Employment Type: Full Time Shift: DayJob Description Float Social Worker, LCSW-C, Ambulatory Services Full-Time Baltimore, MD Come elevate your skills and experience by working with a world class 800-bed, Magnet designated Academic Medical Center. We are ... More
PERINATAL SOCIAL WORKER- (LCSW) UM Capital Region Health Largo, Maryland 12/02/2023
Job ID: REF19324L Area of Interest: Location: Largo,MD USHours of Work: 7-am4pm Job Facility: UM Capital Region Health Employment Type: Full Time Shift: RotatingJob Description Under limited supervision assesses, develops, implements and coordinates care plans for patients receiving extended medical and/or behavioral care, provides direct care to patients experiencing emotional and social problems and supportive counseling to ... More
Assistant Clinical Professor - Social Work Northern Arizona University Yuma, Arizona 12/02/2023
Assistant Clinical Professor - Social Work Location: NAU - Yuma Regular/Temporary: Regular Job ID: 607551 Full/Part Time: Full-Time Workplace Culture NAU aims to be the nation's preeminent engine of opportunity, vehicle of economic mobility, and driver of social impact by delivering equitable postsecondary ... More
Mental Health Therapist Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, New York 11/30/2023
Job SummaryPlease note: This position requires the ability to work occasional evenings and weekends.This position will work within a multi-disciplinary staff and report to the Director or Associate Director of Counseling and Psychological Services. The successful candidate will value a multifaceted approach involving strongly linked clinical and training efforts, consultation with the campus, mental health prevention/early intervention, multicultural ... More
NTID Mental Health Therapist Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester, New York 11/30/2023
Job ResponsibilitiesThe mental health therapist will work within a multi-disciplinary staff and report to the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services. This position will value a multi-faceted approach involving strongly linked clinical and training efforts, consultation with the NTI campus community, mental health prevention/early intervention, multicultural values/awareness and collaborative campus connections.The mental health therapist will maintain a dynamic ... More
Licensed Social Worker The Lincoln Center for Family & Youth Smithfield, North Carolina 11/28/2023
Title: Licensed School-based Counselor/ Social Worker (Johnston County, North Carolina) FLSA: Exempt Reports To: TLCs Chief Clinical Officer Organization Summary: The Lincoln Center for Family and Youth (TLC) is a regional social impact company serving thePhiladelphia area for over 50 years. Founded in 1970 and incorporated in 1983, TLC is one of theregions longest serving nonprofit organizations providing alternative education, ... More
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