Important References

NASW Code of Ethics

Professional ethics are at the core of social work. The profession has an obligation to articulate its basic values, ethical principles, and ethical standards. The NASW Code of Ethics sets forth these values, principles, and standards to guide social workers’ conduct.

Current students should review and familiarize themselves with the code of ethics.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California

  1. What is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?
    The practice of clinical social work is defined as a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that unconscious motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive social adjustments. The application of social work principles and methods includes, but is not restricted to, counseling and using applied psychotherapy of a nonmedical nature with individuals, families, or groups; providing information and referral services; providing or arranging for the provision of social services; explaining or interpreting the psychosocial aspects in the situations of individuals, families, or groups; helping communities to organize, to provide, or to improve social or health services; or doing research related to social work.
    Psychotherapy, within the meaning of this chapter, is the use of psychosocial methods within a professional relationship, to assist the person or persons to achieve a better psychosocial adaptation, to acquire greater human realization of psychosocial potential and adaptation, to modify internal and external conditions which affect individuals, groups, or communities in respect to behavior, emotions, and thinking, in respect to their intrapersonal and interpersonal processes.
    California Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS):
    The BBS is the licensing body for California LCSW licenses.  The following are the required steps and information you will need to obtain the LCSW.  Please review all BBS website pages/links that specifically explain the LCSW license requirements.
    1. What are the steps to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in California?
      • Education
        • Obtain a master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from an accredited school of social work
      • Register with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) as an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW)
        • Video Guide on applying for an Associate Clinical Social Worker (ASW) Registration in California
        • Registration Packet – review and complete
      • Take and Pass the California Law and Ethics Exam
        • Complete any additional coursework required (if applicable)
      • Accrue Supervised Experience
        • All hours in California must be gained while registered
        • 3,000 total supervised hours, over 104 weeks (minimum)
      • Take and Pass the ASWB Clinical Exam
      • Request/ Obtain official license after passing Clinical Exam

BBS Additional Information

  1. Additional Information and Resources

*Please note that the School of Social Work at San Diego State University is not responsible for the accuracy of the information provided above, and applicants are themselves responsible for verifying all information related to the licensing process with the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS).

Domestic Violence Resource Guide

See the Domestic Violence Resource Guide – a list of local San Diego-area hotlines, shelters, and instructions, for addressing domestic violence issues.

Trauma Informed Care and Criminal Justice Resources

resources assembled by: Jessica Rathbun, MSW

TED Talks/Videos


  • Ear Hustle: Ear Hustle brings you the stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it. 
  • The Uncertain Hour: In The Uncertain Hour, host Krissy Clark dives into one controversial topic each season to reveal the surprising origin stories of our economy. From the Marketplace Wealth & Poverty Desk, each season goes beyond buzzwords to bust longstanding myths and uncover surprising backstories. Because the things we fight the most about are the things we know the least about.
  • The Moth: Moth stories are true, as remembered by the storyteller and always told live. Listen to the latest episode of The Moth Radio Hour, Moth Podcast, or dip into our library of stories going back to 1997.
  • This American Life: This American Life is a weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme. You can filter their archives based on topics of interest.
  • The Social Work Podcast: Provides information on all things social work, including direct practice (both clinical and community organizing), research, policy, education… and everything in between.


  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  • Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison by Nell Bernstein
  • A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown
  • A Same Kind of Different as Me by Denver Moore
  • Cooked: My Journey from the streets to the stove by Jeff Henderson
  • Boy Raised as a Dog by Dr. Bruce Perry
  • Mindsight by Dr. Dan Siegel
  • Whole Brain Child by Dr. Dan Siegel
  • The Teenage Brain by Frances E. Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk
  • Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


  • 13th: 2016 American documentary by director Ava DuVernay. Centered on race in the United States criminal justice system, the film is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery. DuVernay’s documentary argues that slavery is being effectively perpetuated through mass incarceration.
  • They Call Us Monsters: goes behind the walls of the Compound, a high-security facility where Los Angeles houses its most violent juvenile criminals. To their advocates, they’re kids. To the system, they’re adults. To their victims, they’re monsters. The film follows three young offenders who sign up to take a screenwriting class with producer Gabe Cowan as they await their respective trials. Arrested at 16, Jarad faces 200 years-to-life for four attempted murders; Juan, also arrested at 16, faces 90-to-life for first-degree murder; Antonio was arrested at 14 and faces 90-to-life for two attempted murders. As the boys work with Gabe on their screenplay, their complex stories are revealed.
  • Kids for Cash: The “kids for cash” scandal unfolded in 2008 over judicial kickbacks at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
  • Into the Abyss (Werner Herzog, 2011): Acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog’s latest documentary is a series of conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime, which serve as an examination of why people – and the state – kill. A fascinating study of America’s prisons and the death penalty.
  • The House I Live In (Eugene Jarecki, 2012): A penetrating look inside America’s criminal justice system – from dealer to police from prisoner to judge – revealing the profound human rights implications of U.S. drug policy.
  • The Interrupters (Steve James, 2011): A year in the life of inner-city Chicago, a major American city grappling greatly with urban violence. The film tells the moving and surprising stories of three “Violence Interrupters” who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed.
  • Crime After Crime: In 1983, Deborah Peagler, a woman brutally abused by her boyfriend, was sentenced to 25 years-to-life for her connection to his murder. Twenty years later, as she languished in prison, a California law allowing incarcerated domestic-violence survivors to reopen their cases was passed.

Training, Best Practices, and Other Resource Sites

Contact Us

SDSU Social Work

Hepner Hall room 119
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-4119