Social workers assist organizations, communities, groups, families, and individuals in a variety of ways. Whether you’ve experienced a traumatic crisis or are just in need of additional family support, social workers are able to help by providing counseling and psychotherapy services, connecting clients to resources, and advocating for clients’ needs.
The first step to seeking social work services is finding a licensed social worker near you.
Contact a local non-profit or social service agency
If you are already familiar with a non-profit agency that provides human services to people in your local area, this is a great place to start. Many non-profits have social workers on staff who are able to provide a variety of services for individuals, families, and groups. These non-profits often provide a host of services, including after-school programs for kids, therapy groups, and other community-based programs and events. It may be the case that you have already established a relationship with a local non-profit through their other services and programs; if so, that’s a great place to start looking for a social worker! Ask the receptionist or staff at the agency if they employ social workers who offer individual or group therapy – they can put you in touch!
Tip: Particularly if you are looking for a social worker who specializes in a particular issue or client group, connecting with a local non-profit focused on that issue or group is a great way to find a social worker who meets your needs. For example, if you are seeking a social worker who has specialized experience with children, visit an agency that offers programs and services to children specifically. Or if you are looking for a social worker with experience assisting individuals going through divorce, look for an agency that focuses on family issues.
Search through the State Board of Social Work Examiners for your State
Because social work is a professional discipline, every state has a Board of Social Work Examiners in place that is responsible for overseeing social work licensure. The State Board of Social Work Examiners usually maintains an online, searchable list of licensed social workers within the state on their website. This is a great way to find a social work and ensure that they have the proper licensure required by the state to provide services.
Do a simple Google search for “State Board of Social Work Examiners” plus the name of your state, and navigate to their website. For example, when you go to the Louisiana State Board of Social Work Examiners website, one of the options from the homepage is “Looking for a Licensed Professional.” Following that link leads you to a search page, where you can search for licensed social workers in a variety of ways: by name, by licensee number, by city, by speciality area, and by profession. Each state has a similar search tool.
Tip: If you are looking for ongoing counseling services, you will want to search for a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This is one of the options in the “Profession” search field. Searching through the State Board of Social Work Examiners will also show you if any of the licensed social workers in your area have had disciplinary action taken against them.
Search through the National Association of Social Workers
The National Association of Social Workers formed a partnership with HelpPro to create a search tool for social workers across the nation – the Social Worker Finder. This tool allows you to search for social workers within a certain mile radius from your zip code. You are also able to search by specialization in a particular concern, age group, or population, and have the option of limiting to your search to only those who accept your insurance.
Tip: Include as much information as possible in the search fields in order to refine your search, making it particular to your needs. This limits the number of social workers who will show up in your search, but ensures that those who do are able to provide the specialized assistance you seek.
Ask for a Referral from a Social Worker you Know
You might not realize that you are already in contact with a social worker – perhaps you have a friend or family member who practices social work, or you’ve been in communication with the social worker at your child’s school. While it is generally not ethical for social workers to provide professional services to someone that they know, they can refer you to another social worker within their professional network. If you know a social worker already, ask them for a referral to a professional contact who is available to assist you.
Tip: Social workers are guided by a Code of Ethics, so they know to keep information confidential. If asking a social worker you know for a referral, they should act in their professional capacity to provide you with this information and keep your inquiry confidential.