Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Proposed Text

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Action:
BSW and LSW licensure
Stage: Fast-Track

Part I
General Provisions

18VAC140-20-10. Definitions.

A. The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the meanings ascribed to them in § 54.1-3700 of the Code of Virginia:

Baccalaureate social worker

Board

Casework

Casework management and supportive services

Clinical social worker

Master's social worker

Practice of social work

Social worker

B. The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Accredited school of social work" means a school of social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

"Active practice" means post-licensure practice at the level of licensure for which an applicant is seeking licensure in Virginia and shall include at least 360 hours of practice in a 12-month period.

"Ancillary services" means activities such as case management, recordkeeping, referral, and coordination of services.

"Clinical course of study" means graduate course work that includes specialized advanced courses in human behavior and the social environment, social justice and policy, psychopathology and diversity issues; research; clinical practice with individuals, families, and groups; and a clinical practicum that focuses on diagnostic, prevention and treatment services.

"Clinical social work services" include the application of social work principles and methods in performing assessments and diagnoses based on a recognized manual of mental and emotional disorders or recognized system of problem definition, preventive and early intervention services, and treatment services, including psychosocial interventions, psychotherapy, and counseling for mental disorders, substance abuse, marriage and family dysfunction, and problems caused by social and psychological stress or health impairment.

"Exempt practice" is that which meets the conditions of exemption from the requirements of licensure as defined in § 54.1-3701 of the Code of Virginia.

"Face-to-face supervision" means the physical presence of the individuals involved in the supervisory relationship during either individual or group supervision or the use of technology that provides real-time, visual contact among the individuals involved.

"LBSW" means a licensed baccalaureate social worker.

"LMSW" means a licensed master's social worker.

"Nonexempt practice" is that which does not meet the conditions of exemption from the requirements of licensure as defined in § 54.1-3701 of the Code of Virginia.

"Supervisee" means an individual who has submitted a supervisory contract and has received board approval to provide clinical services in social work under supervision.

"Supervision" means a professional relationship between a supervisor and supervisee in which the supervisor directs, monitors and evaluates the supervisee's social work practice while promoting development of the supervisee's knowledge, skills and abilities to provide social work services in an ethical and competent manner.

18VAC140-20-30. Fees.

A. The board has established fees for the following:

1. Registration of supervision

$50

2. Addition to or change in registration of supervision

$25

3. Application processing

a. Licensed clinical social worker

$165

b. Licensed social worker LBSW

c. LMSW

$115

$115

4. Annual license renewal

 

a. Registered social worker

$25

b. Associate social worker

$25

c. Licensed social worker LBSW

d. LMSW

$65

$65

d.e. Licensed clinical social worker

$90

5. Penalty for late renewal

a. Registered social worker

$10

b. Associate social worker

$10

c. Licensed social worker LBSW

d. LMSW

$20

$20

d.e. Licensed clinical social worker

$30

6. Verification of license to another jurisdiction

$25

7. Additional or replacement licenses

$15

8. Additional or replacement wall certificates

$25

9. Returned check

$35

10. Reinstatement following disciplinary action

$500

B. Fees shall be paid by check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia and forwarded to the board. All fees are nonrefundable.

C. Examination fees shall be paid directly to the examination service according to its requirements.

18VAC140-20-37. Licensure; general.

Licensed social workers LBSWs and LMSWs may practice in exempt practice settings under appropriate supervision. In accordance with § 54.1-3700 of the Code of Virginia, a LBSW shall engage in the practice of social work under the supervision of a master's social worker. Only licensed clinical social workers may practice at the autonomous level.

18VAC140-20-51. Requirements for licensure by examination as a licensed social worker LBSW or LMSW.

A. In order to be approved to sit for the board-approved examination for as a licensed social worker LBSW or a LMSW, an applicant shall:

1. Meet the education requirements prescribed in 18VAC140-20-60 A.

2. Submit a completed application to the board office to include:

a. The application fee prescribed in 18VAC140-20-30; and

b. Official transcript or transcripts submitted from the appropriate institutions of higher education.

B. In order to be licensed by examination as a licensed social worker LBSW or a LMSW, an applicant shall:

1. Meet the education and experience requirements prescribed in 18VAC140-20-60; and

2. Submit, in addition to the application requirements of subsection A of this section, the following:

a. Documentation, on the appropriate forms, of the successful completion of the supervised experience requirements of 18VAC140-20-60 along with documentation of the supervisor's out-of-state license where applicable. An applicant whose former supervisor is deceased, or whose whereabouts is unknown, shall submit to the board a notarized affidavit from the present chief executive officer of the agency, corporation or partnership in which the applicant was supervised. The affidavit shall specify dates of employment, job responsibilities, supervisor's name and last known address, and the total number of hours spent by the applicant with the supervisor in face-to-face supervision;

b. Verification of a passing score on the board-approved national examination;

c.b. Documentation of any other health or mental health licensure or certification, if applicable; and

d.c. A current report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB).

3. Provide evidence of passage of the examination prescribed in 18VAC140-20-70 For licensure as a LBSW, submit documentation, on the appropriate forms, of the successful completion of the supervised experience requirements of 18VAC140-20-60 along with documentation of the supervisor's out-of-state license where applicable. An applicant whose former supervisor is deceased, or whose whereabouts is unknown, shall submit to the board a notarized affidavit from the present chief executive officer of the agency, corporation or partnership in which the applicant was supervised. The affidavit shall specify dates of employment, job responsibilities, supervisor's name and last known address, and the total number of hours spent by the applicant with the supervisor in face-to-face supervision.

18VAC140-20-60. Education and experience requirements for a licensed social worker LBSW or LMSW.

A. Education. The applicant for licensure as a LBSW shall hold a bachelor's or a master's degree from an accredited school of social work. The applicant for licensure as a LMSW shall hold a master's degree from an accredited school of social work. Graduates of foreign institutions must establish the equivalency of their education to this requirement through the Foreign Equivalency Determination Service of the Council on Social Work Education.

B. Master's degree applicant. An applicant who holds a master's degree may apply for licensure as a licensed social worker LMSW without documentation of supervised experience.

C. Supervised experience requirement for bachelor's degree applicants. Supervised experience without prior written board approval will not be accepted toward licensure, except supervision obtained in another United States jurisdiction may be accepted if it met the requirements of that jurisdiction.

1. Registration. Prior to the onset of supervision, an individual who proposes to obtain supervised experience in Virginia shall:

a. Register on a form provided by the board and completed by the supervisor and the supervised individual; and

b. Pay the registration of supervision fee set forth in 18VAC140-20-30.

2. Hours. Bachelor's degree applicants shall have completed a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised post-bachelor's degree experience in casework management and supportive services under supervision satisfactory to the board. A minimum of one hour and a maximum of four hours of face-to-face supervision shall be provided per 40 hours of work experience for a total of at least 100 hours.

3. Supervised experience shall be acquired in no less than two nor more than four consecutive years from the beginning of the supervised experience. An individual who does not complete the supervision requirement after four consecutive years of supervised experience may request an extension of up to 12 months. The request for an extension shall include evidence that demonstrates extenuating circumstances that prevented completion of the supervised experience within four consecutive years.

D. Requirements for supervisors.

1. The supervisor providing supervision shall hold an active, unrestricted license as a licensed social worker with a master's degree, or a licensed social worker with a bachelor's degree and at least three years of post-licensure social work experience or a licensed clinical social worker in the jurisdiction in which the social work services are being rendered. If this requirement places an undue burden on the applicant due to geography or disability, the board may consider individuals with comparable qualifications.

2. The supervisor shall:

a. Be responsible for the social work practice of the prospective applicant once the supervisory arrangement is accepted by the board;

b. Review and approve the assessment and service plan of a representative sample of cases assigned to the applicant during the course of supervision. The sample should be representative of the variables of gender, age, assessment, length of service and casework method within the client population seen by the applicant. It is the applicant's responsibility to assure the representativeness of the sample that is presented to the supervisor. The supervisor shall be available to the applicant on a regularly scheduled basis for supervision. The supervisor will maintain documentation, for five years post supervision, of which clients were the subject of supervision;

c. Provide supervision only for those casework management and support services activities for which the supervisor has determined the applicant is competent to provide to clients;

d. Provide supervision only for those activities for which the supervisor is qualified;

e. Evaluate the supervisee in the areas of professional ethics and professional competency; and

f. Ensure that the board is notified of any change in supervision or if the supervision has ended or has been terminated by the supervisor.

3. The supervisor shall not provide supervision for a family member or provide supervision for anyone with whom the supervisor has a dual relationship.

Part III
Examinations

18VAC140-20-70. Examination requirement.

A. An applicant for licensure by the board as a social worker LBSW, a LMSW, or clinical social worker shall pass a written examination prescribed by the board.

1. The examination prescribed for licensure as a clinical social worker shall be the licensing examination of the Association of Social Work Boards at the clinical level.

2. The examination prescribed for licensure as a social worker LBSW shall minimally be the licensing examination of the Association of Social Work Boards at the bachelor's level.

3. The examination prescribed for licensure as a LMSW shall be the licensing examination of the Association of Social Work Boards at the master's level.

B. A candidate approved by the board to sit for an examination shall take that examination within two years of the date of the initial board approval. If the candidate has not passed the examination by the end of the two-year period here prescribed, the applicant shall reapply according to the requirements of the regulations in effect at that time. After an applicant has failed the examination twice, he shall be required to register for supervision and complete one additional year as a supervisee before approval to re-take the examination is granted.

18VAC140-20-105. Continued competency requirements for renewal of an active license.

A. Licensed clinical social workers shall be required to have completed a minimum of 30 contact hours of continuing education. and licensed social workers LBSWs and LMSWs shall be required to have completed a minimum of 15 contact hours of continuing education prior to licensure renewal in even years. Courses or activities shall be directly related to the practice of social work or another behavioral health field. A minimum of two of those hours must pertain to ethics or the standards of practice for the behavioral health professions or to laws governing the practice of social work in Virginia. Up to two continuing education hours required for renewal may be satisfied through delivery of social work services, without compensation, to low-income individuals receiving health services through a local health department or a free clinic organized in whole or primarily for the delivery of those services, as verified by the department or clinic. Three hours of volunteer service is required for one hour of continuing education credit.

1. The board may grant an extension for good cause of up to one year for the completion of continuing education requirements upon written request from the licensee prior to the renewal date. Such extension shall not relieve the licensee of the continuing education requirement.

2. The board may grant an exemption for all or part of the continuing education requirements due to circumstances beyond the control of the licensee such as temporary disability, mandatory military service, or officially declared disasters upon written request from the licensee prior to the renewal date.

B. Hours may be obtained from a combination of board-approved activities in the following two categories:

1. Category I. Formally Organized Learning Activities. A minimum of 20 hours for licensed clinical social workers or 10 hours for licensed social workers shall be documented in this category, which shall include one or more of the following:

a. Regionally accredited university or college academic courses in a behavioral health discipline. A maximum of 15 hours will be accepted for each academic course.

b. Continuing education programs offered by universities or colleges accredited by the Council on Social Work Education.

c. Workshops, seminars, conferences, or courses in the behavioral health field offered by federal, state or local social service agencies, public school systems or licensed health facilities and licensed hospitals.

d. Workshops, seminars, conferences or courses in the behavioral health field offered by an individual or organization that has been certified or approved by one of the following:

(1) The Child Welfare League of America and its state and local affiliates.

(2) The National Association of Social Workers and its state and local affiliates.

(3) The National Association of Black Social Workers and its state and local affiliates.

(4) The Family Service Association of America and its state and local affiliates.

(5) The Clinical Social Work Association and its state and local affiliates.

(6) The Association of Social Work Boards.

(7) Any state social work board.

2. Category II. Individual Professional Activities. A maximum of 10 of the required 30 hours for licensed clinical social workers or a maximum of five of the required 15 hours for licensed social workers may be earned in this category, which shall include one or more of the following:

a. Participation in an Association of Social Work Boards item writing workshop. (Activity will count for a maximum of two hours.)

b. Publication of a professional social work-related book or initial preparation/presentation of a social work-related course. (Activity will count for a maximum of 10 hours.)

c. Publication of a professional social work-related article or chapter of a book, or initial preparation/presentation of a social work-related in-service training, seminar, or workshop. (Activity will count for a maximum of five hours.)

d. Provision of a continuing education program sponsored or approved by an organization listed under Category I. (Activity will count for a maximum of two hours and will only be accepted one time for any specific program.)

e. Field instruction of graduate students in a Council on Social Work Education-accredited school. (Activity will count for a maximum of two hours.)

f. Serving as an officer or committee member of one of the national professional social work associations listed under subdivision B 1 d of this section or as a member of a state social work licensing board. (Activity will count for a maximum of two hours.)

g. Attendance at formal staffings at federal, state, or local social service agencies, public school systems, or licensed health facilities and licensed hospitals. (Activity will count for a maximum of five hours.)

h. Individual or group study including listening to audio tapes, viewing video tapes, reading, professional books or articles. (Activity will count for a maximum of five hours.)

18VAC140-20-110. Late renewal; reinstatement; reactivation.

A. A social worker LBSW, LMSW or clinical social worker whose license has expired may renew that license within one year after its expiration date by:

1. Providing evidence of having met all applicable continuing education requirements.

2. Paying the penalty for late renewal and the renewal fee as prescribed in 18VAC140-20-30.

B. A social worker LBSW, LMSW or clinical social worker who fails to renew the license after one year and who wishes to resume practice shall apply for reinstatement and pay the reinstatement fee, which shall consist of the application processing fee and the penalty fee for late renewal, as set forth in 18VAC140-20-30. An applicant for reinstatement shall also provide:

1. Documentation of having completed all applicable continued competency hours equal to the number of years the license has lapsed, not to exceed four years;

2. Documentation of any other health or mental health licensure or certification held in another United States jurisdiction, if applicable; and

3. A current report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Practitioner Data Bank.

C. In addition to requirements set forth in subsection B of this section, an applicant for reinstatement whose license has been lapsed for 10 or more years shall also provide evidence of competency to practice by documenting:

1. Active practice in another United States jurisdiction for at least 24 out of the past 60 months immediately preceding application;

2. Active practice in an exempt setting for at least 24 out of the past 60 months immediately preceding application; or

3. Practice as a supervisee under supervision for at least 360 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding reinstatement of licensure in Virginia. The supervised practice shall include a minimum of 60 hours of face-to-face direct client contact and nine hours of face-to-face supervision.

D. A social worker LBSW, LMSW or clinical social worker wishing to reactivate an inactive license shall submit the difference between the renewal fee for active licensure and the fee for inactive licensure renewal and document completion of continued competency hours equal to the number of years the license has been inactive, not to exceed four years. An applicant for reactivation who has been inactive for 10 or more years shall also provide evidence of competency to practice by documenting:

1. Active practice in another United States jurisdiction for at least 24 out of the past 60 months immediately preceding application;

2. Active practice in an exempt setting for at least 24 out of the past 60 months immediately preceding application; or

3. Practice as a supervisee under supervision for at least 360 hours in the 12 months immediately preceding reactivation of licensure in Virginia. The supervised practice shall include a minimum of 60 hours of face-to-face direct client contact and nine hours of face-to-face supervision.

Part V
Standards of Practice

18VAC140-20-150. Professional conduct.

A. The protection of the public health, safety, and welfare and the best interest of the public shall be the primary guide in determining the appropriate professional conduct of all persons whose activities are regulated by the board. Regardless of the delivery method, whether in person, by telephone or electronically, these standards shall apply to the practice of social work.

B. Persons licensed as social workers LBSWs, LMSWs, and clinical social workers shall:

1. Be able to justify all services rendered to or on behalf of clients as necessary for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.

2. Provide for continuation of care when services must be interrupted or terminated.

3. Practice only within the competency areas for which they are qualified by education and experience.

4. Report to the board known or suspected violations of the laws and regulations governing the practice of social work.

5. Neither accept nor give commissions, rebates, or other forms of remuneration for referral of clients for professional services.

6. Ensure that clients are aware of fees and billing arrangements before rendering services.

7. Inform clients of potential risks and benefits of services and the limitations on confidentiality and ensure that clients have provided informed written consent to treatment.

8. Keep confidential their therapeutic relationships with clients and disclose client records to others only with written consent of the client, with the following exceptions: (i) when the client is a danger to self or others; or (ii) as required by law.

9. When advertising their services to the public, ensure that such advertising is neither fraudulent nor misleading.

10. As treatment requires and with the written consent of the client, collaborate with other health or mental health providers concurrently providing services to the client.

11. Refrain from undertaking any activity in which one's personal problems are likely to lead to inadequate or harmful services.

12. Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of the nature and directions of loyalties and responsibilities involved.

C. In regard to client records, persons licensed by the board shall comply with provisions of § 32.1-127.1:03 of the Code of Virginia on health records privacy and shall:

1. Maintain written or electronic clinical records for each client to include identifying information and assessment that substantiates diagnosis and treatment plans. Each record shall include a diagnosis and treatment plan, progress notes for each case activity, information received from all collaborative contacts and the treatment implications of that information, and the termination process and summary.

2. Maintain client records securely, inform all employees of the requirements of confidentiality, and provide for the destruction of records that are no longer useful in a manner that ensures client confidentiality.

3. Disclose or release records to others only with clients' expressed written consent or that of their legally authorized representative or as mandated by law.

4. Ensure confidentiality in the usage of client records and clinical materials by obtaining informed consent from clients or their legally authorized representative before (i) videotaping, (ii) audio recording, (iii) permitting third-party observation, or (iv) using identifiable client records and clinical materials in teaching, writing or public presentations.

5. Maintain client records for a minimum of six years or as otherwise required by law from the date of termination of the therapeutic relationship with the following exceptions:

a. At minimum, records of a minor child shall be maintained for six years after attaining the age of majority or 10 years following termination, whichever comes later.

b. Records that are required by contractual obligation or federal law to be maintained for a longer period of time.

c. Records that have been transferred to another mental health professional or have been given to the client or his legally authorized representative.

D. In regard to dual relationships, persons licensed by the board shall:

1. Not engage in a dual relationship with a client or a supervisee that could impair professional judgment or increase the risk of exploitation or harm to the client or supervisee. (Examples of such a relationship include, but are not limited to, familial, social, financial, business, bartering, or a close personal relationship with a client or supervisee.) Social workers shall take appropriate professional precautions when a dual relationship cannot be avoided, such as informed consent, consultation, supervision, and documentation to ensure that judgment is not impaired and no exploitation occurs.

2. Not have any type of romantic relationship or sexual intimacies with a client or those included in collateral therapeutic services, and not provide services to those persons with whom they have had a romantic or sexual relationship. Social workers shall not engage in romantic relationship or sexual intimacies with a former client within a minimum of five years after terminating the professional relationship. Social workers who engage in such a relationship after five years following termination shall have the responsibility to examine and document thoroughly that such a relationship did not have an exploitive nature, based on factors such as duration of therapy, amount of time since therapy, termination circumstances, client's personal history and mental status, adverse impact on the client. A client's consent to, initiation of or participation in sexual behavior or involvement with a social worker does not change the nature of the conduct nor lift the regulatory prohibition.

3. Not engage in any romantic or sexual relationship or establish a therapeutic relationship with a current supervisee or student. Social workers shall avoid any nonsexual dual relationship with a supervisee or student in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the supervisee or student, or the potential for interference with the supervisor's professional judgment.

4. Recognize conflicts of interest and inform all parties of the nature and directions of loyalties and responsibilities involved.

5. Not engage in a personal relationship with a former client in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm or if the former client continues to relate to the social worker in his professional capacity.

E. Upon learning of evidence that indicates a reasonable probability that another mental health provider is or may be guilty of a violation of standards of conduct as defined in statute or regulation, persons licensed by the board shall advise their clients of their right to report such misconduct to the Department of Health Professions in accordance with § 54.1-2400.4 of the Code of Virginia.