Most Maryland social workers have likely attended a conference or workshop somewhere around the state that Carlton Munson, MSW, PhD, has presented. If you haven’t, you certainly know of his reputation as a man highly regarded in the field of social work. He is the consummate professional who not only looks the part but also lives the part. He has devoted his career to advancing clinical social work practice and supervision and has published more on clinical social work supervision than any other scholar in the history of clinical social work. He pioneered the first code of ethics for clinical supervisors and developed the narrative theory of clinical social work supervision.
Munson is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and director of the Washington Area Supervision Institute at Woodstock Forest Center where he also operates his private practice, focusing on child welfare and child trauma. He was the first graduate of the UMB SSW doctoral program in 1975 and became director of the doctoral program from 1992 to 1999. He was a professor at Shepherd University (and established the BSW program there), Catholic University, University of Houston, and Fordham University in NYC. His teaching areas have been clinical supervision, clinical child welfare, and psychopathology. Munson’s practice and research focus on trauma and loss in children, including international child abduction.
He has a special research interest in the effects of trauma on child development including a focus on receptive and language impairments. Carlton has published seven books and more than 80 journal articles and book chapters, including; Handbook of Clinical Social Work Supervision, The Mental Health Diagnostic Desk Reference, and Social Work Supervision, which have been widely adopted as texts in the U.S. and abroad. He is the founding editor of The Clinical Supervisor Journal. He was the clinician in a precedent-setting Maryland Court of Appeals case that affirmed the right of clinical social workers to perform DSM diagnoses, to testify as experts, and to testify to ultimate issues. The case has had national implications for the practice of clinical social work.
Carlton was born in Baltimore in 1940 when his parents moved there from Hagerstown, Md. so his father, Maurice, could work at Bethlehem Steel building battleships. Carlton and his mother, Katherine, moved back to Western Maryland when his father was drafted to serve in World War II. Carlton and his wife Joan were high school sweethearts and married in 1960. He joined the US Coast Guard and served during the Vietnam War era. He dedicated 12 years to his military service and left as a Lieutenant Commander.
In 1964, Carlton was one of the first juvenile probation officers hired in Maryland. Two years later, Carlton and four other probation officers became known as today’s Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.
Munson’s mentors include Verl Lewis, the founding dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland; Ruth Young; Daniel Thursz; Hans Falck; Harris Chaiklin; Ina Nucho; and Stanley Mazer.
Carlton’s awards are numerous and he has been named an NASW Social Work Pioneer. In addition, he received the prestigious NASW Knee/Wittman Award in 2008, and a Lifetime Achievement Award for Forensic Social Work in 2016. In 2013, he was appointed to the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Child Custody Decision Making, established by the Maryland General Assembly. He served as chair of the Commission’s Research and Literature Committee. He was one of the few clinical social workers selected to participate in the field trials for the DSM-5.
Carlton Munson has dedicated his professional career to the advancement of the social work profession. He is devoted to NASW. In fact, 2017 marks his 50th year as a member of our organization and serves as the chairperson of our chapter’s Professional Standards Committee.