All Work is Clinical Work

You can be both micro and macro.  Photo Credit and Source:  License: Creative Commons.
You can be both micro and macro. Photo Credit and Source: License: Creative Commons.

I once had a professor in graduate school who told us that all work is clinical work.

Whether we are working in case management, residential care, home-visiting, or—even without stretching things too much—macro/policy work, everything we do requires an attuned knowledge and experience of human relationships. In all social work, we are assessing a need, an asset, a hope for a change, and most importantly, engaging into a human relationship that becomes a vehicle for that change. The clinician in private practice is attuned to the oppressions a client faces, and the mezzo or macro worker is conscious of intricate human idiosyncracies present in any community organizing effort.

What does that have to do with anything? Well, while the LMSW is considered a generalist license and the LCSW the clinical license, it’s a reminder that both aspects of the work inform each other. So the clinical vs. macro debate is now settled and we can all go home now, you’re welcome.

*Frantic phone calls from the New York State Society of Clinical Social Work and Community Advocacy Organizations start to come in*

Or not. When it comes to the test, it returns us to the importance of human relationships.  In social work, relationships are change vehicles that rise above persuasion and cheap manipulation, but through an honoring of self-determination that does not expect, but highly hopes.

Summary Points

1.  Macro social work requires micro skills, and vice versa.

2.  Many “application” questions on the exam will ask you to apply social work values to situational or vignette questions.  As you answer these questions, the profession’s values will guide you to the correct choice!  One such value is self-determination.

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