Frequently asked questions (FAQ's) when applying for AMHSW credential
AASW = Australian Association of Social Workers
AMHSW = Accredited Mental Health Social Worker
CPD = Continuing Professional Development
FPS = Focussed Psychological Strategies
MH = Mental Health
MHPN = Mental Health Professionals Network
How do I check whether my qualifications allow me to apply for accreditation as a Mental Health Social Worker?
Applicants are required to have completed an AASW accredited Bachelor of Social Work or a Master of Social Work (qualifying) for entry to practice as a professional social worker, please refer to the careers and study section of the website to find a list of AASW approved qualifying programs. Having a social work qualification, and being a member of AASW membership is the requirement (criterion), a social worker must also be able to demonstrate that they have supervised practice experience in a clinical mental health type position, in order to proceed with their application for AMHSW status.
Yes. An applicant is required to be a current eligible member (Full Fee, Reduced Fee or Graduate Member) of the AASW prior to submitting their application for accreditation as a Mental Health Social Worker. To become a member of the AASW please click here.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate at least 2 years full time equivalent post qualifying supervised practice in a mental health or demonstrably related field.
I studied and have worked as a social worker overseas, how can I find out if my qualifications are applicable in Australia?
Please click here for information regarding international qualification assessment.
I attained CPD accreditation when I first joined the AASW many years ago, is this sufficient to meet the requirements for AMHSW?
No. An applicant must meet the CPD requirements for the current or preceding year in which they submit their application for AMHSW. For example if you are applying today, you must meet the CPD requirements for the previous financial year or the current financial year. A financial year runs from July to June. Becoming a CPD accredited member is a tangible way to demonstrate commitment to ongoing development and education. It is also an ongoing requirement for maintaining AMHSW status. You must continue to meet your CPD requirements each year and log them in the AASW Membership Portal. Please refer to the CPD section of the website for further details.
Social workers interested in applying for AMHSW status must demonstrate they have met the Accredited Mental Health Social Worker Continuing Professional Goals. For further information please refer to the CPD section of the website. Goals are currently allocated to you by the system. If you do not appear to have the Accredited Mental Health Social Worker goal visible, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and request it to be added.
Applicants must log their CPD online through their AASW membership portal. To do this you need to log in using your membership details and password and select the option 'My CPD Record'. The CPD Policy has been updated effective 15 July 2020. You will need to demonstrate that you have met the Accredited Mental Health Social Worker CPD requirements (for the previous or current financial year). The goal will say status "Achieved" when you have entered the required activities and number of hours. If you are having difficulties achieving the requirements, please review the CPD policy and the CPD Record User Guide. Or you can contact us by emailing email@example.com
I have been on maternity/paternity leave for the past 12 months. How do I meet the CPD requirements?
The AASW has capacity to review professional development from the current financial year or the past financial year. The most appropriate period for the AASW to review will depend on the date in which you commenced parental leave. Most applicants are surprised how quickly they find they can meet the professional development requirements, when considering readings related to social work, networking, reflecting on your practice, supervision as well as workshops, online training, conferences, can all be considered to count towards the required professional development hours. Please review the CPD section of the website for further information about what is considered as professional development.
I don't work in a mental health setting, how do I know if my work experience meets the requirements for AMHSW status?
Social workers are considered to have worked in the mental health field if they can demonstrate they have covered areas in the Practice Standards for Mental Health Social Workers 2014. Among other things, this would necessitate social workers showing that they have a specific knowledge about mental illness and serious mental health problems, and involved in the assessment, planning and interventions with clients with mental disorders or dual diagnosis. Where the applicant has worked in a field that they consider to be highly related to mental health, the applicant will need to make a case to demonstrate the relevance and the use of focussed psychological strategies (FPS).
I have been working part time since I graduated 2 years ago, does that meet the requirements for AMHSW status?
No. An applicant must demonstrate a minimum of two years full time equivalent post qualifying work experience in a mental health field using focussed psychological strategies. You will also need to provide evidence that you have received supervision throughout this time. The AASW is aware that many social workers are employed on a part time basis, so in order for a social worker to meet the two-years full-time employment requirement, they can demonstrate full time equivalence. In order to make this calculation, the AASW recognises that full time employment equates to the maximum of 35 hours per week, for 48 weeks per year and uses this definition to require a total of 3360 hours to meet the two-year full-time employment requirement. Applicants are required to verify this through their documentation such as referee statements, statements of service and position descriptions.
The AASW would recommend social workers obtain supervision from an experienced social work supervisor. For the purposes of this assessment however, it is not mandatory to receive supervision from a social worker supervisor. The person who completes the referee statement also does not have to be a social worker. Applicants should be able to show that they have been formally supervised, in line with the AASW Supervision Standards 2014. Generally, supervisors should have a higher level of practice experience than their supervisees and should have some training in supervision. For the purposes of this assessment, the supervisor or employer does not necessarily need to have a social work background but should have provided the applicant/supervisee with appraisal and assessment in relation to practice in a mental health field (i.e.: psychologist, medical practitioner or a mental health nurse).
The AASW does not specify any individual education or training programs to assist an applicant to meet the requirements of accreditation for Mental Health Social Worker status. In general we would encourage social workers to identify their own needs for further education around working with people with mental health problems and perhaps discuss these needs with their supervisor. For further details regarding upcoming events/training/activities please refer to the following suggestions: the events calendar; AASW Social Work Online Training (SWOT) online learning management system; some providers are currently offering mental health specific training, these include MHPN and MHPOD for further details please go to www.mhpn.org.au or www.mhpod.gov.au or click here for the registration form.
Application process questions
From the AASW Home Page you need to go to the Quicklinks on the right hand side of the page and click on ‘Apply – Accredited Mental Health Social Worker’. This should take you straight to your current application. If you have more than one application in progress, and the application you want to work on hasn't opened, you will need to click on your name in the top right-hand corner and then click on home. This will take you to your feed on the AASW Online Community Hub. Once here, scroll down and on the right hand side you will be able to see all available credentials and your status for each one. You will then need to click on the application that you are ready to work on.
For the purposes of this assessment we are interested in learning about your experience of receiving supervision.
You should document to the best of your ability the supervision you have received within the place of work along with any external supervision.
Focussed Psychological Strategies are specific mental health care treatment strategies derived from evidence based psychological therapies. FPS have been shown to integrate the best research evidence of clinical effectiveness with the majority of mental health disorders. Medicare Australia specify FPS are to be used when allied health professionals (including social workers) utilise the Medicare rebate. Please see the Department of Health for further information.
What kind of information should be included when describing 'demonstrated clinical social work practice' in criteria 5?
Applicants are required to describe how and why they would utilise FPS when working with a client. Applicants are required to select two case studies, from the provided selection, and discuss the: assessment process; the treatment plan; the knowledge and theory the social worker would employ when working with the client and what FPS would be used to support the client. Further information is available on the AASW website.
I mainly use Narrative therapy in my practice. Is this acceptable under the FPS guidelines specified by Medicare Australia?
Currently Narrative therapy has been approved as a psychological intervention only for use with indigenous clients with mental health problems. Narrative therapy has been identified as a particularly valuable mode of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as it builds on the story telling that is central part of their culture.
Is a letter of reference a suitable replacement for the on the official AASW Referee Statement form?
No. An official Referee Statement must be completed by an employer, manager or supervisor for every position you are putting forward to meet Criterion 2a
I started filling in responses to Criteria 2, but I seem to be repeating myself, how can I answer the questions more simply?
The main purpose of providing information in your application is for you to demonstrate to the assessor your knowledge and skills in working with people experiencing mental health problems and in particular demonstrate how your practice enables you to meet the Practice Standards for Mental Health Social Workers 2008. We acknowledge that applicants may provide information in a variety of ways and in order to allow applicants to express this information in the way they feel most comfortable we have not specified a set format. For Criteria 2, for each Practice Standard; you will need to identify a real life Mental Health practice issue from the positions that you have nominated in your application, that would be best addressed through the application of the specific Practice Standard to that situation. Your response should also demonstrate your mental health practice utilising FPS to address the matter.
What steps are there in the assessment process? Will I be contacted if further information is required?
As soon as an application is received, a preliminary review of the supplied information is conducted to ensure the required detail has been included. If it is noted at this time, that further information is required, you will be contacted. This is a common occurrence, the additional information can usually be sent back to us via email. You may be asked to elaborate on what you have already submitted. Often there may be a need to communicate several times with you during the assessment process. The AASW will also contact you once the assessment has been completed to advise you of the assessment outcome. For further information about the assessment process please refer to this helpful document.
You have asked me to provide additional information to support my application, can I send it by email or does it need to be posted?
We are happy to receive additional information by email or mail. Email will enable us to complete your application more promptly.
Please provide any requested information as soon as possible to avoid delaying your application. If the additional information has not been received after six months your application will be closed. You may reapply once you have obtained all the required documentation. A refund may not be issued if your application is closed for this reason. A new application will need to be submitted when you re-apply.
Applicants are not assessed on their formatting. Applicants should try to make their responses clear and concise. The assessor will review, and make an assessment based on the content of the responses for all criteria. It is recommended that for Criterion 2b, applicants demonstrate their understanding of each particular standard. For each Practice Standard; identify a real life Mental Health practice issue from the positions that you have nominated in your application, that would be best addressed through the application of the specific Practice Standard to that situation. Your response should also demonstrate your mental health practice utilising FPS to address the matter. It is up to the individual applicant's discretion as to how to format response to Criterion 5, some applicants have preferred to write their response in report form, whereas others have responded in essay form. Applicants are required to provide an assessment and plan their work with the case examples, identifying which Focussed Psychological Strategy or Strategies they would use with the client. The case studies are based on real people and situations, and are an example of a referral from a Medical Practitioner that an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker might receive when working privately, and claiming through Medicare.
Each application for accreditation as a Mental Health Social Worker needs to be thoroughly assessed. Please allow up to three months from the date in which a complete application has been received by the AASW, for assessment. For more information please visit the Processing Times page on the website.
How much does the assessment cost and if my application is not successful will the assessment fee be refunded?
To apply for accreditation as a Mental Health Social Worker there is an assessment accreditation fee. The fee, covers two separate costs. The first, incorporates the cost of conducting the assessment, $470. The second, is the annual accreditation fee, $208. If an applicant applies between May to December, the full fee amount is required (assessment cost plus full accreditation membership cost) an amount of $678. If an applicant applies between January to April, the amount required incorporates the assessment cost plus half the annual accreditation fee, therefore the required amount during this time will be $574. Both amounts are inclusive of GST. Should an applicant not meet the requirements, the accreditation membership cost will be refunded (either $208 or $104 depending on the time of year).