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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: October 21, 2015 11:58 AM
From: Senator John P. Blake
To: All Senate members
Subject: Amending the Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act

I plan to introduce legislation that would update Act 136 of 1998, the Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors Act (“Act”). This Act licenses clinical social workers, social workers, marriage and family therapists and professional counselors and creates a licensing board to regulate the professions.

It has been nearly two decades since the Act was passed and much has changed in the delivery of health care services, including social work services. The goal of my bill is to update the licensure requirements and scope of practice for clinical social work to reflect and incorporate the changes that have taken place since the law was originally enacted and are now in place in a large majority of states.

The primary revisions proposed to the Act are:
  • To amend the definition of the “practice of clinical social work” to add the term “diagnosis” which is included in the scope of practice of clinical social workers in 44 other states.
  • To require anyone practicing clinical social work independently, that is in a private practice not affiliated with any other practice, health care facility, government agency or government regulated social service agency, to be licensed. Please note that persons practicing clinical social work in any setting other than independent practice will not be required by this bill to have a license, although that option will remain available as it is currently. Pennsylvania is one of only two states that do not provide this kind of consumer protection to its residents who need the services of a clinical social worker.
The overall goal of the bill is to provide better treatment for individuals who need the services of a clinical social worker, to clarify who may provide those services, and to clarify who may call themselves a licensed clinical social worker in order to improve consumer protection in Pennsylvania for persons needing those services.

This bill is supported by both the National Association of Social Workers- Pennsylvania Chapter and the Pennsylvania Society of Clinical Social Workers.

This is the Senate companion to Representative Nick Miccarelli’s HB 1415. Please join me in co-sponsoring this bill.

Introduced as SB1078