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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: January 30, 2017 02:37 PM
From: Senator Thomas H. Killion and Sen. John P. Blake
To: All Senate members
Subject: Updating Licensure Requirements and Scope of Practice for Clinical Social Work
Please join us in co-sponsoring 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 our bill is to update the licensure requirements and scope of practice for clinical social work by reflecting and incorporating the changes that have taken place since the law was originally enacted; and are now in place in a large majority of states.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 45 other states. (Five states that do not have “diagnosis” included are: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Alabama, Nebraska and California).
  • 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 individuals practicing clinical social work in any setting other than independent practice will not be required to have a license under this bill, although that option will remain available as it is currently. (Two states that do not provide this type of consumer protection to its residents who need the services of a clinical social worker are: Pennsylvania and Montana).
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 define who may call themselves a licensed clinical social worker in order to improve consumer protection in Pennsylvania for persons needing those services.

This initiative is a priority of the Pennsylvania Chapter of National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Pennsylvania Society of Clinical Social Workers.

This legislation will be identical to Senate Bill 1078 (Blake) and the amended form of House Bill 1415 (Miccarelli) from the 2015-2016 Legislative Session. House Bill 1415, PN 3450, was approved by the House of Representatives on June 13, 2016 by a vote of 186-5, and was unanimously approved by the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee on October 18, 2016.

Introduced as SB530