Pursuing Legislative Authority for Clinical Social Workers to Provide Private Independent Mental Health Services in the United States: What is the Status and What are the Issues?
Dianna Cooper-Bolinskey, MSW; Caroline Blower, BSW

The scope of clinical social work practice differs among the various US states as defined by legislative codes. Understanding these differences is challenging because legislative codes are difficult to read, sometimes requires advanced knowledge to interpret, or do not provide the sufficient breadth and/or depth of information to enable a full understanding of practice limits. The study utilized an electronic survey and asked social workers throughout the US five questions about providing private independent mental health services. These questions addressed the ability of licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) to (1) provide diagnosis, (2) create treatment plans, (3) bill third party insurance, (4) bill Medicaid, and (5) bill Medicare. Results indicated that LCSWs in at least 32 states reported ability to provide all five services independently and privately; 17 states whose respondents reported conflictual or uncertain ability to provide one or more of the services; and two states whose respondents reported inability to provide one or more of the services. Fortunately, respondents from no states reported inability to provide all the services. The conflictual or uncertain responses likely arise from complications or restrictions in scope of practice in some states and in understanding evolving definitions of private and independent practice.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jssw.v4n1a4