Social workers must have an undergraduate, graduate or doctoral degree in social work from a recognized university to be fully registered with the BC College of Social Workers. They must also have 700 hours of experience and successfully complete a licensure exam to become registered.

In British Columbia, the terms “registered social worker” and “registered clinical social worker” can only be used by social workers registered with the British Columbia College of Social Workers. Some registered social workers use titles that are not regulated, for example mental health therapist, play therapist or counselor. Counseling is not a regulated profession in B.C.

What does a registered social worker do?

Social workers can help you through difficult times, often with deeply personal and sensitive issues. Social workers will assist you and your family, communities and groups. Their professional purpose is to help individuals and communities achieve the highest psychosocial wellbeing possible.

How do registered social workers keep their skills up to date?

Registered social workers must renew their registration every year. They are required to complete not less than 40 hours of continuing professional development every year.

What happens when I first visit a registered social worker?

The first visit you have with a social worker will usually involve a discussion where you can talk about the issue or issues you are facing and what things in your life that may influence you. Your social worker can help you through direct service by helping you identify and act on your goals. They may provide clinical treatment for emotional or mental disorders. Together, you will develop a plan to resolve issues and enhance your problem solving skills.

How can I find a registered social worker?

Social workers can be found in many different places, for example in hospitals, family welfare offices, seniors’ homes and organizations, immigration and refugee agencies, child protection services, prisons, and counseling services. If you want to find out if your social worker is licensed and regulated you can visit

How do I pay for a registered social worker?

Health authorities, not-for-profit agencies and other organizations employ many social workers and there may be no fees charged for their service. Services like counseling and treatment for addictions may be covered through employee assistance programs. If you are a victim of a crime, social work services may also be paid for.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from a registered social worker?

As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your registered social worker. If you think that has not happened, please contact the Registrar of the BC College of Social Workers

Where can I find more information about registered social workers?



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Group of doctors talking about a patient's care. Patient is in the foreground.

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