Psychiatric Social Worker Jobs & Career Guide 2024

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 alsoPsychology jobs salary guide

Latest Psychiatric Social Worker Job Listings

PositionCompanyLocationPosted
Multicultural Mental Health Professional (Mental Health Specialist)Indiana University Indianapolis, Indiana US05/21/2024
Indiana University School of Medicine is a national leader in medical research and education. With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across 9 campuses statewide and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, the school is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.The Department of Mental Health Services promotes psychological health, well-being, and … More
Assistant Sports PsychologistUSAFA Athletics Colorado Springs, Colorado US05/20/2024
Serves as the Assistant Sport Psychologist under the direction of the Director of Sports Psychology to render mental performance services and operate as a mental health advisor for the USAFA Athletic Department (AD). Serves as a member of the Sports Psychology team as a subject matter expert and consultant on Sport Psychology matters for AD leadership, athletic coaches, and cadet-athletes in accordance with American Psychological Association, and the Association of Applied Sport Psychology … More
Eating Disorder Specialist ( Counselor / Psychologist )Infinite Mindcare George Town, Grand Cayman KY05/17/2024
Infinite Mindcare, located in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, is a licensed, multi-specialty outpatient counseling center also offering programs for addictions, and first responders. We are seeking a full-time, experienced, licensed,Doctoral-level Psychologist, Master Level Counselor, or Clinical Social Workerto work at our thriving practice. Job Duties: Provide individual therapy (and possible group) … More
PsychologistOchsner Health New Orleans, Louisiana US05/14/2024
We’ve made a lot of progress since opening the doors in 1942, but one thing has never changed – our commitment to serve, heal, lead, educate, and innovate. We believe that every award earned, every record broken and every patient helped is because of the dedicated employees who fill our hallways. At Ochsner, whether you work with patients every day or support those who do, you are making a difference and that matters. Come make a difference at Ochsner Health and discover your … More
Pediatric Behavioral Health ClinicianUW Health Madison, Wisconsin US05/09/2024
Be part of something remarkable Working as an independent health care provider, you’ll play an integral role in our care teams by providing high-quality, cost-effective care to adult patients while working collaboratively within a multidisciplinary health team. We are seeking aBehavioral Health ClinicianorClinical Psychologistto: Collaborate with other medical professionals in a fast-paced environment. … More
Mobile Crisis Mental Health Practitioner or ProfessionalStellher Human Services Bemidji, Minnesota US05/09/2024
Stellher Human Services is looking for a full-time Mobile Crisis Response Mental Health Practitioner or Mental Health Professional **Sign-on Bonus** Position Description: … More
Behavioral Health Care Advocate – Weekend overnight shiftUnitedHealth Group San Diego, California US05/09/2024
For those who want to invent the future of health care, here’s your opportunity. We’re going beyond basic care to health programs integrated across the entire continuum of care. Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. Master’s level cleared behavioral health, California License: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMF), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Psychologist for position for the County … More
Behavioral Health ConsultantUnity Care NW Bellingham, Washington US05/08/2024
Compensation: New hires are placed on our starting wage scale of $72,700 to $88,300 per year ($34.95-$42.45 hourly equivalent) Based on performance, there is room to grow on our full wage scale of $72,7000 – $104,000 per year ($34.95-$50 hourly equivalent) Exempt/Salary Work Schedule:Monday – Friday Who We Are Unity Care NW is a private, non-profit, … More
Position
Indiana University School of Medicine is a national leader in medical research and education. With more than 60 academic departments and specialty divisions across 9 campuses statewide and strong clinical partnerships with Indiana’s most advanced hospitals and physician networks, the school is continuously advancing its mission to prepare healers and transform health in Indiana and throughout the world.The Department of Mental Health Services promotes psychological health, well-being, and … More
Company
Indiana University
Location
Indianapolis, Indiana US
Posted
05/21/2024
Position
Serves as the Assistant Sport Psychologist under the direction of the Director of Sports Psychology to render mental performance services and operate as a mental health advisor for the USAFA Athletic Department (AD). Serves as a member of the Sports Psychology team as a subject matter expert and consultant on Sport Psychology matters for AD leadership, athletic coaches, and cadet-athletes in accordance with American Psychological Association, and the Association of Applied Sport Psychology … More
Company
USAFA Athletics
Location
Colorado Springs, Colorado US
Posted
05/20/2024
Position
Infinite Mindcare, located in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, is a licensed, multi-specialty outpatient counseling center also offering programs for addictions, and first responders. We are seeking a full-time, experienced, licensed,Doctoral-level Psychologist, Master Level Counselor, or Clinical Social Workerto work at our thriving practice. Job Duties: Provide individual therapy (and possible group) … More
Company
Infinite Mindcare
Location
George Town, Grand Cayman KY
Posted
05/17/2024
Position
We’ve made a lot of progress since opening the doors in 1942, but one thing has never changed – our commitment to serve, heal, lead, educate, and innovate. We believe that every award earned, every record broken and every patient helped is because of the dedicated employees who fill our hallways. At Ochsner, whether you work with patients every day or support those who do, you are making a difference and that matters. Come make a difference at Ochsner Health and discover your … More
Company
Ochsner Health
Location
New Orleans, Louisiana US
Posted
05/14/2024
Position
Be part of something remarkable Working as an independent health care provider, you’ll play an integral role in our care teams by providing high-quality, cost-effective care to adult patients while working collaboratively within a multidisciplinary health team. We are seeking aBehavioral Health ClinicianorClinical Psychologistto: Collaborate with other medical professionals in a fast-paced environment. … More
Company
UW Health
Location
Madison, Wisconsin US
Posted
05/09/2024
Position
Stellher Human Services is looking for a full-time Mobile Crisis Response Mental Health Practitioner or Mental Health Professional **Sign-on Bonus** Position Description: … More
Company
Stellher Human Services
Location
Bemidji, Minnesota US
Posted
05/09/2024
Position
For those who want to invent the future of health care, here’s your opportunity. We’re going beyond basic care to health programs integrated across the entire continuum of care. Join us to start Caring. Connecting. Growing together. Master’s level cleared behavioral health, California License: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMF), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Psychologist for position for the County … More
Company
UnitedHealth Group
Location
San Diego, California US
Posted
05/09/2024
Position
Compensation: New hires are placed on our starting wage scale of $72,700 to $88,300 per year ($34.95-$42.45 hourly equivalent) Based on performance, there is room to grow on our full wage scale of $72,7000 – $104,000 per year ($34.95-$50 hourly equivalent) Exempt/Salary Work Schedule:Monday – Friday Who We Are Unity Care NW is a private, non-profit, … More
Company
Unity Care NW
Location
Bellingham, Washington US
Posted
05/08/2024