Clinical Policies & Procedures


Clinical Social Work Registry

Policies and Procedures





A) Clinical Social Work

Clinical Social Work is a mental health profession based on the application of knowledge and theory of “psychosocial development, behaviour, psychopathology, unconscious motivation, interpersonal relationships and environmental stress”*. It utilizes social work methods to assess, diagnose and provide psychotherapeutic interventions across the lifespan with individuals, couples, families and groups. Clinical Social Workers demonstrate a commitment to continuing competence, ethical practice and respect for diversity.

* Handbook of Clinical Social Work Supervision (3rd edition) Carlton E. Munson, PhD p. 9.

B) Clinical Supervision

Clinical supervision is defined as the one-to-one relationship between a clinical supervisor and a supervisee that looks at case dynamics and conceptualization, clinical theory, therapeutic interventions, and “self” in relation to the case.

C) Direct Clinical Practice

Direct practice includes time spent with clients, documentation, consultation, case conferencing, file review, supervision, preparation time, and similar client related activities. It does not include teaching, research, or other non-client related activities.

D) Internal/External Supervision

Internal supervision means that the supervisor is the applicant’s immediate supervisor within the site and may include administrative supervision, practice supervision, or both. Supervision provided from any person outside the immediate program is external supervision.

1. Qualifications for the Clinical Specialty Registry

All applicants to the clinical specialty registry must meet minimum qualifications prior to application.

a) All applicants must hold a master’s degree in social work or a related clinical field.

b) All applicants must provide evidence (course outlines and transcripts) of learning in the following areas. Each learning area should be addressed by at least the equivalent of one half-course.

1.    systems/ecological/PIE model of practice

2.    social policy

3.    social work ethics and social justice/diversity/oppression

4.    evaluation of practice

5.    clinical social work foundations

6.     a minimum of three half courses with a clinical focus in addition to the foundations course.

Topics 1 - 3 may be at either the graduate or undergraduate level.  Topics 4 - 6 must be at the graduate level and must include instruction on assessment and a treatment model(s) generally accepted as appropriate in clinical social work practice.

c) Applicants must document a minimum of 450 hours of clinical practice experience, supervised by a Registered Social Worker with a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree in clinical practice, prior to beginning the application process. These hours may be demonstrated through clinical field education as part of a MSW degree program. Applicants who do not have a clinical MSW, who completed a thesis/project in place of a practicum, or whose practicum was not in a clinical setting may accumulate this experience in a post-master’s clinical position. Practice experience prior to completing a master’s degree will not be counted toward these hours.

d) Applications will be reviewed at regular committee meetings. The committee will inform the applicant of which aspects appear to be outstanding, if any. The applicant may provide additional evidence to be considered at a subsequent meeting if there is disagreement on any content areas.

2. Workplace requirements for new applicants to the registry

All applicants must practice in a setting with access to a range of learning opportunities.

All applicants must demonstrate that the following is accessible and utilized within their current practice:

  • Group or team consultation/case conferencing;
  • A plan for professional development with specific reference to clinical practice;
  • Individual clinical supervision as documented in the supervision plan, noting
  • Frequency
  • With whom
  • Supervision approach
  • Focus of supervision
  • Exposure to different approaches to practice and professional viewpoints;
  • Peer consultation a minimum of once per week;
  • Regular review of social work ethics and standards of practice;
  • Clinical file review at least quarterly;
  • Involvement in non-clinical activities which may include:
  • Interagency/interprofessional activities
  • Committee work
  • Volunteer work
  • Advocacy
  • Social action

3. Approved supervisors

The supervisor of record must be an approved supervisor.


a)   Supervisors must apply to the Clinical Committee if they wish to be recognized as an approved clinical supervisor.

  • Submit completed FORM 4A: Application to be an Approved Supervisor
  • Submit two references using FORM 4B: Supervisor or Consultant Reference Form.

b)   Qualifications to be an approved supervisor include:

  • Provision of 100 hours of clinical supervision/consultation to clinical practitioners/masters level students within the past 10 years;
  • A minimum of 20 hours of training in the fundamentals of social work supervision within the past five years;
  • At least 3000 hours of direct clinical practice, which may include providing supervision, within the past eight years;
  • Two letters of reference, one of which must be from a current supervisor/member of consultation group;
  • Membership on the clinical specialty registry.

c)   An applicant who meets most of the requirements may be provisionally approved if the committee is satisfied with the other information in the application. A provisionally approved applicant must provide documentation to show that all requirements have been met within one year.

d)   A list of approved supervisors is maintained on the ACSW web site,

e)   In order to maintain status as an approved clinical supervisor, the individual must provide documentation of providing at least 10 hours of supervision per year and complete a minimum of six hours of supervision training every five years.

4. Initial application

i) All applicants must submit an initial application package

The initial application package includes:

  • the application form (FORM 1A);
  • a supervision plan (FORM 1B); 
  • the application fee;
  • a detailed resume;
  • MSW transcripts;
  • detailed description of all clinical courses completed (course outlines preferred) as well as MSW practica;
  • a criminal record check;
  • a reference letter from the supervisor of record on the supervision plan addressing the applicant’s readiness and suitability to begin the process, the supervisor’s willingness to proceed, the satisfaction of all parties with regard to the supervision plan, and a general reference for the applicant;
  • a completed Supervisor Reference Form (FORM 1C) from each supervisor named in the supervision plan; and
  • other documents as may be identified in the application package.

ii) Only complete applications will be submitted to the Clinical Committee for review.

a)   It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all required forms and supporting documentation are submitted in a timely manner.

b)   If more than 6 months has passed since the last documents were received, an incomplete application may be destroyed.

c)   Each time a new application is submitted the current application fee must be paid. Application fees are non-refundable.

d)   Complete applications will be presented to the Clinical Committee at their meetings held four times per year. Applicants can contact the ACSW office to find out the committee meeting dates.

iii) Supervision plans must be approved by the Clinical Committee before supervised hours can be counted.

a)   The supervision plan must include a minimum of 100 supervision hours spread throughout the period of supervised practice referred to in the supervision plan.

  • The supervisor of record is responsible for the provision of a minimum of 50 hours of direct individual clinical supervision spread throughout the period of supervised practice.
  • The remaining 50 supervision hours may include case consultation, group supervision, supervision by others named in the supervision plan, and related activities.

b)   Direct supervision may be face-to-face, via telephone or internet, or by any other form of communication suitable to the parties.

c)   The supervisor of record must directly review a minimum of 10 sessions between the supervisee and clients, spread throughout the period of supervised practice. Reviews may be live or by means of audio or video recordings.

d)   The supervision plan applies to a minimum of 1600 clinical client contact hours.

e)   The supervision must be completed in not less than two years and within five years. In extenuating circumstances an extension may be granted at the discretion of the committee. Applicants must submit a written request to extend the timeframe.

iv) The applicant must update the application if there are any changes to the supervision plan, the supervisor of record, or the applicant’s status.

a)   A revised supervision plan must be submitted for approval prior to change taking place. Practice hours completed that are not in accordance with an approved supervision plan may not be counted toward the required practice hours. This includes but is not limited to any changes in the applicant’s employment/practice setting, supervisor of record, work place supervisor, practice/client focus, etc.

b)   An applicant who is taking a leave from practice must submit a revised supervision plan with updated timelines.

c)   An applicant who is charged with a criminal offense, under discipline by the ACSW or an employer, or who is dealing with any other matter that may have an impact on their ability to provide effective services to their clients must report this status to the Clinical Committee. The Committee will review the circumstances and determine whether any conditions should be placed on the applicant or the applicant’s practice.

5. Multiple/external supervisors

Where the supervisor of record is off-site and or the applicant has an additional employment-based supervisor, the applicant is responsible for coordinating roles with all parties.

a)   All parties (supervisee, supervisor of record, agency supervisor/manager) must discuss and agree on how the external supervision can be most helpful, prior to completing the supervision plan.

b)   A letter of agreement outlining roles and responsibilities is to be signed by all parties. A copy of the agreement is to be included with the application package.

c)   The supervisor of record must communicate with the employment supervisor/manager with regard to the applicant’s practice and progress at least once every six months.

6. Interim evaluation

An interim evaluation must be submitted by each supervisor who is a party to the Supervision Plan with regard to the applicant at least once every six months.

a)   The interim evaluation must be completed by each supervisor who is a party to the Supervision Plan on FORM 2A: Supervisor Evaluation. Please note: the committee expects that the form will be completed by the supervisor. Supervisors are encouraged to work with the supervisee in completing the form, but please do not ask them to complete it.

b)   Each supervisor must provide a copy of their evaluations to the other supervisor(s) named in the agreement and to the supervisee in a timely manner.

c)   If there is significant disagreement between the evaluations all parties must discuss the concerns and develop a plan for resolution.

d)   Any time there is cause for concern with regard to the applicant’s practice an interim evaluation should be completed by the supervisor who has the concern and provided to the other parties, including the applicant.

e)   The supervisee must review and sign all interim evaluations.

f)   Each interim evaluation report is to be submitted to the clinical committee and shall remain as part of the application package. A copy should be maintained in the supervisor of record’s file.

g)   If an applicant takes a leave of absence, or changes supervisors, an interim evaluation should be completed immediately prior to the leave or change. The next interim evaluation will be due six months after return to practice.

7. Application for Approval to take the Clinical Exam

Once the required period of supervision has been completed the applicant may apply to take the Clinical Social Work Exam

a)   The applicant must submit FORM 3A: Application for Approval to take the Clinical Exam to the Clinical Committee.

b)   Each supervisor who has been a party to the supervision plan must submit a final evaluation of the applicant on FORM 3B: Supervisor Evaluation Report to the Clinical Committee. A copy of each form must be provided to each party to the Supervision Plan.

b.1) If the applicant has only received supervision from the supervisor of record, the application must be supported by a letter of reference from another master’s level prepared clinical practitioner who is familiar with the applicant’s practice.

c)   Once all forms have been submitted, the application will be reviewed by the clinical committee.

d)   If the application is approved, the applicant’s name is submitted to the testing vendor authorizing the applicant to take the exam and the applicant is given information on how to register for the exam. Authorization to take the exam is good for up to one year.

e)   While waiting to take the exam, the applicant must continue to receive supervision at least monthly. Verification of supervision must be submitted to the Clinical Committee every six months on FORM 3C until the exam has been passed.

f)   An applicant who fails the exam must wait 90 days prior to re-taking the exam.

g)   An applicant who fails the exam three times must reapply to join the registry at the initial application stage.

h)   Applicants are responsible for all costs associated with taking the exam and for being aware of all policies and procedures related to scheduling, taking, or missing the exam.

i)    If the applicant does not take the exam within one year of approval the application will be considered closed. If an applicant whose file has been closed wishes to be considered again in the future, the applicant must begin the process with a new application.

j)    If there are extenuating circumstances the applicant may request an extension for a maximum of six months. A request must be received within 6 months of the file being closed.

8. Joining the Registry

Names shall be added to the Clinical Specialty Register upon receipt of appropriate documentation.


a)   An applicant who has completed all the requirements to join the Clinical Registry shall be added to the register once official notice of the passing score has been received by the ACSW from the testing vendor.

b)   Applicants who are licensed or registered on a clinical register in another jurisdiction with substantially similar requirements shall be added to the register upon providing evidence of current licensure/registration and good standing in the previous jurisdiction.

9. Continuing Competence

In order to remain on the clinical register, a member must annually complete professional development, structured supervision/ consultation, and additional hours of competence activities.

a) In order to remain on the register, a member must provide evidence annually of the following:

1.   20 hours of continuing education (category A) with a specific focus on clinical practice,

2.   receipt of a minimum of 10 hours of structured supervision, peer review, or consultation in amounts proportional to the member's areas of practice,

3.   at least 20 hours of additional continuing competence activities as defined in the Social Workers Profession Regulation.

b) Clinical social workers in part time practice must provide evidence annually of the following:

1.   10 hours of continuing education (category A) with a specific focus on clinical practice,

2.   a minimum of 5 hours of structured supervision, peer review, or consultation in amounts proportional to the member's areas of practice,

3.   at least 20 hours of additional continuing competence activities in any category, at least 10 of which must have a clinical focus.

c)   Clinical social workers who are inactive (either generally or in clinical practice only) must provide evidence annually of the following:

1.   10 hours of continuing education (category A) with a specific focus on clinical practice,

2.   at least 10 hours of additional continuing competence activities with a clinical focus in any category,

3.   specific goals in the learning plan related to maintaining clinical competence.

d)   Clinical social workers must work a minimum of 500 hours within the preceding three year period to maintain their status on the register. Any member of the Clinical Specialty Registry who does not practice clinically for three or more years must have their portfolio assessed prior to reinstating on the register. Based upon the assessment of the portfolio, the member may be required to do one or more of the following:

1.   work for a period of time under the supervision of a clinical social worker;

2.   complete coursework on one or more specific topics;

3.   pass the Clinical Social Work Exam.

10. Request for Review

Applicants who disagree with a decision made by the Clinical Committee may request a review of the decision.

a)   A request for review may be submitted, in writing, to the Clinical Social Work Committee. A request must state the specific decision and reasons for the request.

b)   The first level of review shall be by three members of the committee who were not involved in the original decision with regard to the application.

c)   If the applicant is not satisfied with the outcome of the review, the applicant may request a review by ACSW Council.

d)   Any request for review must be submitted within 30 days of receipt of the decision by the Committee.



Copyright 2010 Alberta College of Social Workers