Association Urges Inclusion in DSM-V Group

NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark has written two letters to American Psychiatric Association President Jay Scully asking for the inclusion of social workers in a task force for the development of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V).

“[T]he DSM is a widely used resource for clinical social workers who are trained and licensed to diagnose and treat mental illness,” Clark wrote in a Sept. 15 letter. “As one of the largest providers of mental health services in the United States, clinical social workers have clinical expertise that would be an asset in the development of the DSM-V.”

Clark pointed out that, while a May 2008 news release from APA indicated that clinicians from the social work field are included in DSM-V work groups, “there is no one on the oversight group, and we believe that only three of 120 clinicians in the work groups have any social work training.”

NASW first asked the APA for clinical social work representation on the task force in a letter sent in December 2007. In that letter, Clark noted that a clinical social worker was chosen for the task force for the DSM-IV.

In the September 2008 letter, Clark named a number of expert social workers who are researchers and clinicians in specialty areas of mental disorders. She suggested that they be appointed to the DSM-V work groups. They include: Gail Steketee, an expert on anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and dissociative disorders; Jim Drisko, an expert on disorders in childhood and adolescence; Doris Tomer, an expert on eating disorders; Luis Zayas, an expert on mood disorders; Marsha Seltzer, an expert on neurodevelopmental disorders; John Brekke, an expert on psychotic disorders; and Renee C. Williams, an expert on substance-related disorders.

NASW received a response from APA this past December. “Your concern about increasing representation by clinical social workers [on the DSM-V development groups] is understandable, particularly given the need for collaborators with clinical expertise,” Scully wrote.

In the letter, Scully extended his appreciation to Clark for making APA aware of the matter.

NASW will continue to advocate for an active role in the development of the DSM-V, Clark said.