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So what is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker anyway?

I often get asked by new referrals about my qualifications-rarely about my experience. Usually the first question is "Are you a Psychologist?" My answer to this is of course "No" because I am not. I do provide Psychological Support. Sometimes at this point I lose the client. There is unfortunately a misconception that Psychologists are the only profession that can provide Psychology, Mental health support and Counselling. This is a really unfair assumption. GPs often add to this myth by telling their patients that they need to see a "Psychologist" Thankfully I have worked in the same community for 10yrs and the local GPs are well versed in the services I provide-including counselling and I am their preferred referral option.

Many people do not know exactly what Social Workers do in their respective roles. Social Workers are registered and accountable to a professional body here in Australia, the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). Social Workers absolutely can and do provide counselling. Social Work is a very diverse field. Someone said to me recently "Aren't Social Workers just Casemanagers" yes we can be, but that's not all we can do. Social Workers are skilled and qualified to do so much more. Social workers are highly regarded for their expertise in complexity, culture, ecological systems of families and the social determinants of health. We are person centred and our approach is wholistic. Social Workers complete a 4 year degree that also involves 1000 hours of supervised work placement.

So what is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker? (or sometimes they are called Mental Health Social Workers). In order to work in Private Practice under Medicare a Social Worker also needs to complete extra training and gain very specialised knowledge and work experience. These professionals once qualified are given the title of Accredited Mental Health Social Worker (AMHSW). AMHSW's are highly regarded in every country in the world, especially America.

This AMHSW accreditation is not just handed out. One must complete their 4yr degree-with 1000hrs of placement. Once degree qualified, to be eligible for AMHSW Accreditation, you are then required to complete a minimum of 2yrs paid employment within a clinical mental health setting-such as an Adult Mental Health Service-AMHS or a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service-CAMHS (CAMHS is where I completed my 2yrs). You are then eligible to apply for accreditation, which involves a number of written assessments and a reference and recommendation from your current supervisor. To keep your title you also need to complete a number of continuing professional development tasks each year

The AMHSW title is a trademarked and protected title in Australia. I am proud to carry a protected title that required much experience and effort to attain and now maintain. I have some 26yrs experiences working in the human services field as a professional helper. And I also have 10yrs experience providing Mental Health Counselling and Mental Health Programs to Adults and Children. As an AMHSW I hold the privileged position of having a Medicare Provider number. This allows my service to provide rebated support services to my clients. This Accreditation is a mandatory requirement for Medicare registration and in order to keep my provider number there is much quality control and accountability.

Due to demand, Mindful Life Wellness is currently seeking to employ or contract another AMHSW. Unfortunately we are a rare find. WIth just 2000 AMHSW in the country, finding this Unicorn is proving to be very challenging. The profession needs more Social Workers to take the step and work towards Accreditation.


**To obtain rebated support-counselling or group program at Mindful Life Wellness. Please obtain a GP Mental Health Care Plan from your GP. Once you have your plan please get in touch to discuss how Mindful Life Wellness can help

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