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Psychiatric Social Worker (9870)

Psychiatric Social Worker

California State Personnel Board Specification

  • Schematic Code: XP30
  • Class Code: 9870
  • Established: 1931
  • Revised: 04/21/1987
  • Title Changed: 11/04/1965


Under general direction, to do responsible psychiatric social work with and on behalf of mentally, physically or developmentally disabled persons and their relatives and to do other related work.

Typical Tasks

Provides assistance to patients and relatives in locating and taking advantage of available treatment, casework, and community services; interprets the social aspects of mental disturbances and physical disabilities to relatives, interested persons, and community agencies; prepares socio-psychiatric case history information for use in diagnosis and participates in diagnostic formulations; acquaints medical, nursing, and other staff with the social service role in patient treatment and works as a team member with other treatment disciplines; provides case work and group work treatment for patients; assists program staff in evaluating patients' readiness for release; determines the home and community circumstances preliminary to patients' release from hospital care; locates, evaluates, and makes recommendations regarding family care (foster) homes; locates and approves employment opportunities for patients; counsels patients, relatives, family caretakers, employers, and others on matters related to the patients' welfare; determines patients' need for further hospital care and initiates steps to return patients for such care; evaluates patients' community behavior to insure community protection; may manage a small field office; may serve in the absence of a higher level supervisor; assists with, or conducts, community social work programs such as recreation programs; provides emergency protective social services at night and on weekends and holidays as required; participates in research projects; participates in education and consulting services for furthering mental and physical health; prepares verbal, written, and statistical reports; participates in meetings, committees, and conferences. This class is distinguished from the licensed class of Psychiatric Social Worker (Health Facility) by the fact that it is not used in a health facility.

Minimum Qualifications

Education: Completion of a master's degree program from an accredited school of social work, approved by the Council on Social Work Education, or equivalent degree approved by the California Superintendent of Public Instruction under the provisions of California Education Code Section 94310(b). (Candidates who are enrolled in the final academic year of graduate work will be admitted to the examination, but they will not be appointed until they have completed the required education.)

Knowledge and Abilities

Knowledge of: Principles, procedures, techniques, trends, and literature of social work with particular reference to psychiatric social work; social aspects of mental, developmental, and physical disabilities; principles of mental health education; community organization principles; scope and activities of public and private health and welfare agencies; characteristics of mental, developmental, and physical disabilities; current trends in mental hygiene, public health and public welfare, and Federal and State programs in these fields.


Ability to: Utilize and apply effectively the required technical knowledge; establish and maintain the confidence and cooperation of persons contacted in the work; secure accurate social data and record such data systematically; write clear, accurate, and concise reports; find homes for and place and supervise family-care patients; locate jobs for and plan and supervise patients in protected employment; analyze situations accurately and take effective action; speak and write effectively.

Special Personal Characteristics

An objective and sympathetic understanding of the mentally, developmentally, or physically disabled; willingness to work at night, and at irregular hours; tolerance; tact; and emotional stability.

  Updated: 6/3/2012
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