Social Work Social Work Regulation
by
Karen S. Knox, Andrew Marks
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 10 March 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0196

Introduction

Social work regulation refers to the laws, rules, and regulations that uphold the profession’s ethical and practice standards and mandate credentialing of social work professionals. Social work regulation specifies the required qualifications for social worker credentialing and the scope of practice and services that can legally be provided. Social work regulation in the United States is relatively new as concerted efforts were initiated in 1969, when the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) passed a resolution to pursue licensing in each state. By 1993, all of the states and the District of Columbia had implemented some form of regulation. Internationally, many European countries, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand mandate some form of social work regulation, but development is still in process for many countries. Social work regulatory processes are mandated through governmental boards and statutes from the jurisdiction’s legislative body. Another type of social worker credentialing is through voluntary membership in professional associations that establish practice standards and codes of ethics. Protection of the public is the primary focus for both types of credentialing. Governmental regulation protects recipients of social work services through an enforcement process and sanctions for unprofessional behavior with regard to social work values, ethics, and standards of practice. Typical sanctions may include revocation of the regulatory title, additional training and supervision, and treatment for impairments, such as mental illness or substance abuse. Voluntary membership organizations also have consequences for members who violate their standards or policies, usually withdrawal of credentials and dismissal from the organization. There are three types of regulation: licensing, certification, and registration. These titles are used interchangeably by regulatory authorities, and therefore, can be one and the same depending on the jurisdiction. Protection of the title of “social worker” is another purpose of regulation, to ensure that only professionals who satisfy the conditions of social work licensure can, by law or statute, call themselves social workers. These conditions usually require having a social work degree from a higher education accredited social work program and passing a licensing exam at the appropriate level of education and experience. The national licensing exams are administered in the United States and Canada under the authority of the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB). Social worker regulation also requires continuing education or training to ensure professional competency, but jurisdictions vary greatly on their regulation requirements and titles, which can be confusing to both professionals and consumers.

General Overviews

Knowledge of social work ethics, values, and practice standards is essential to understanding social work regulation, since these form the basis of the codes of conduct and codes of ethics for governmental regulatory bodies and voluntary associations. Reamer 2006a is a classic, a comprehensive overview of social work values and ethics, authored by one of the most prolific authors on social work ethics. Reamer 2006b also offers a general overview of the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics, which proscribes ethical standards for social work professionals. Readers can cross-reference Frederic G. Reamer’s article on “Ethics and Values in Social Work” in Oxford Bibliographies online for additional resources and references. Dolgoff, et al. 2012 provides a solid foundation for students and practitioners on social work ethics and values, plus a decision-making model for dealing appropriately with ethical dilemmas. Bibus and Boutté-Queen 2013 presents the most up-to-date coverage of the current state of social worker regulation in the United States, while Groshong 2009 focuses on clinical practice standards and regulation. Barsky 2012 gives the reader a comprehensive overview of the legal systems, issues, and proceedings that social workers need to be knowledgeable about for risk management, since many complaints to regulatory boards involve legal and criminal violations. Pollack and Kleinman 2003 explains and examines legal cases and court rulings that influence social welfare policy and practice. Schroeder 1995 focuses on the impacts of legal systems and legislation on social work service delivery.

  • Barsky, Allen. 2012. Clinicians in court: A guide to subpoenas, depositions, testifying and everything else you need to know. 2d ed. New York: Guilford.

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    The author provides a general overview of forensic social work with specific explanations on preparing for legal proceedings, court testimony, and understanding evidentiary issues. Discussion and guidelines for professional preparation for involvement in legal proceedings is helpful for social workers in a variety of settings.

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    • Bibus, Anthony, and Needha Boutté-Queen. 2013. Regulating social work: A primer on licensing practice. Chicago: Lyceum.

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      The purpose and process of social work regulation and licensure are presented, with discussion of the current benefits, controversies, and suggestions for improvements. Information on the development of global social work regulation is included. A literature review and other resources provide valuable information for social work students and practitioners.

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      • Dolgoff, Ralph, Donna Harrington, and Frank Lowenberg. 2012. Ethical decisions for social work practice. 9th ed. Brooks/Cole Empowerment Series. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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        A standard resource for social workers that provides an overview of professional values and ethics; the guidelines for ethical decision making are widely used. Special topics and case applications on client rights, informed consent, and confidentiality are included.

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        • Groshong, Laura. 2009. Clinical social work practice and regulation. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.

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          A general discussion about clinical practice in social work is provided, along with content on the various ways that clinical practice is regulated. The author contributes to the argument for standardizing clinical licensing nationally and presents a set of practice standards for clinical social work.

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          • Pollack, Daniel, and Toby Kleinman. 2003. Social work and the courts: A casebook. London: Routledge.

            DOI: 10.4324/9780203426753Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            The authors present legal cases, court rulings, and case studies that are relevant to social work practice. The legal summaries clearly explain and examine how the legal system impacts social workers and social welfare policy. A 3rd edition will be available in 2016.

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            • Reamer, Frederic. 2006a. Social work values and ethics. 3d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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              A comprehensive overview of critical issues, ethical dilemmas, professional misconduct, and malpractice that includes content on the historical development of ethical standards and case applications using the NASW Code of Ethics.

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              • Reamer, Frederic. 2006b. Ethical standards in social work: A review of the NASW Code of Ethics. 2d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                This edition offers an in-depth analysis of the ethical and practice standards and code of ethics of the NASW. An overview of relevant literature on ethical conflicts and violations, as well as discussion of challenging ethical cases, is included.

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                • Schroeder, Leila. 1995. The legal environment of social work. Washington, DC: NASW.

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                  The focus on how legal systems impact social work agencies and professionals is useful to both administrators and practitioners. This book covers legislation, laws, and legal cases that pertain to the delivery of social work services.

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                  Historical Overviews

                  Laurence and Baeck 1960 is one of the first publications on the development of social work regulation, focusing on California’s attempts to introduce legislation. Berliner 1989 contributes one of the first research studies on types of ethics complaints and violations. Thyer and Biggerstaff 1989 is another early effort to document and promote the development of social work regulation, and Biggerstaff 1995 and Biggerstaff 2000 continue to provide scholarly leadership in the development of social work regulation through the author’s work on the Model State Social Work Practice Act. Reamer 1994 is one of the first resources for social workers on liability issues and risk management strategies. Examination of legal issues relevant to social work practice is found in Saltzman and Furman 1999 and in Albert 2000.

                  • Albert, Raymond. 2000. Law and social work practice: A legal systems approach. 2d ed. New York: Springer.

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                    Provides an extensive overview of the legal system in the United States and what social work professionals need to understand to work within the legal system and on behalf of clients. Identifies skills utilized by social workers in the legal system and areas of practice.

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                    • Berliner, Arthur. 1989. Misconduct in social work practice. Social Work (January): 69–72.

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                      One of the earliest attempts to examine ethics complaints reported to NASW from 1975–1985 to determine the types of violations. Recommendations include establishing a database of complaints, more control over those sanctioned, and implementation of professional ethics courses in social work education.

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                      • Biggerstaff, Marilyn. 1995. Licensing, regulation, and certification. In Encyclopedia of social work. Edited by Richard Edwards and June Hopps, 1616–1624. Washington, DC: NASW.

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                        A comprehensive chapter on social work regulation that is one of the first professional publications presenting the history and issues impacting the development of social work credentialing in the United States.

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                        • Biggerstaff, Marilyn. 2000. A critique of the Model State Social Work Practice Act. Social Work 45.2 (March): 105–115.

                          DOI: 10.1093/sw/45.2.105Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Examination of the recommendations for the Model Practice Act made by the American Association of State Social Work Boards, later renamed the Association of Social Work Boards. Provides discussion on statutory language that should be considered by jurisdictions in implementing the act and how implementation may impact practitioners and consumers.

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                          • Laurence, Virginia, and Anne Baeck. 1960. Voluntary certification vs. the California title licensing bill. Social Work (January): 9–13.

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                            Compares voluntary certification through a professional organization to state licensing laws as to which would be most effective in protecting the public and regulating the profession. They were not arguing for both options, and advocated for regulation through state licensing laws.

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                            • Reamer, Frederic. 1994. Social work malpractice and liability strategies for prevention. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                              Historical overview of malpractice and liability issues for social work practitioners is presented, along with discussion of potential areas for consideration in specific practice areas, such as service delivery, supervision, termination, fraud, and confidentiality.

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                              • Saltzman, Andrea, and David Furman. 1999. Law and social work practice. Boston: Cengage Learning.

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                                Exhaustive coverage of the legal arena in relation to social work practice that provides details from a national perspective regarding specific areas of law and social work practice. Content on professional interactions with attorneys on behalf of clients or in consultation of practice issues is presented.

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                                • Thyer, Bruce, and Marilyn Biggerstaff. 1989. Professional social work credentialing and legal regulation: A review of critical issues and an annotated bibliography. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

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                                  This publication was the first effort to document the development of legal regulation of social work practice by presenting critical issues, a history of credentialing in the United States, and an annotated bibliography on social work licensure. This was a seminal work that influenced the professionalism and regulation of social workers.

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                                  Reference Works

                                  Two of the most widely used references in social work are the Encyclopedia of Social Work, which is now online as well as in print, and Roberts 2008. Both resources have chapters on social work values and ethics, social work regulation, malpractice, and standards of practice, providing information pertinent to social work students and practitioners at all levels of practice and licensure. Social Work Speaks explains the policy initiatives and statements of the NASW for the current federal legislative cycle of 2012–2014. Hussein 2011 provides detailed information on social work regulation in Europe. The professional journals Ethics and Social Welfare and Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics are noted for their scholarly contributions in the area of social work ethics and professionalism. Professional development and continuing education are the focus of Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education.

                                  Textbooks

                                  Israel 2011 provides comprehensive content on legal principles and ethical issues in mental health treatment, while Carr and Brayne 2013 is a leading textbook on the legal system and social work practice in England and Wales. Barsky 2009 and Strom-Gottfried 2014 give students an excellent overview of core social work values and ethics with case applications and strategies to guide ethical practice. Ethical issues with boundaries, duel relationships, self-disclosure, and conflicts of interest are the focus of Reamer 2012, and this textbook also provides students with interesting case applications and strategies for risk management. Healy and Link 2011, widely recognized for its contributions to international social work, has chapters and information on international regulation and professional organizations. Additional references on international standards for social work and social work education can be located in Lynne M. Healy’s “International Social Work” in Oxford Bibliographies online, under the sections on International Social Work Organizations, Values and Ethics, International Social Work Education, and International Standards and Comparisons. Kagel and Kopels 2008 offer a comprehensive overview of recordkeeping and documentation for social workers involved in the legal systems and discusses federal and state laws relating to privacy and privilege.

                                  • Barsky, Allan. 2009. Ethics and values in social work: An integrated approach for a comprehensive curriculum. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                    Provides a systematic framework for addressing and dealing with ethical issues across practice fields and client populations, including macro-level administration and supervision. Using conflict resolution theory, this textbook has case applications and experiential exercises for students, along with guidelines and strategies for managing ethical dilemmas.

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                                    • Carr, Helen, and Hugh Brayne. 2013. Law for social workers. 12th ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                      Leading textbook about the legal system and laws impacting on social work practice in England and Wales. Client issues involving discrimination, capacity, consent, and confidentiality are presented. Case studies in the practice fields of family and children’s services, mental health, immigration, housing, human rights, and violence are included.

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                                      • Healy, Lynne, and Rosemary Link, eds. 2011. Handbook of international social work: Human rights, development, and the global profession. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                        DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195333619.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                        Section V presents information on international professional organizations and global ethical principles and dilemmas; Section VI focuses on relevant international organizations; and Section X covers human rights. The appendix contains the international professional organizations’ codes of ethics, mental health guidelines, and global standards for education and training of social workers.

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                                        • Israel, Andrew. 2011. Using the law: Practical decision making in mental health. Chicago: Lyceum.

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                                          Readers will learn how to use legal principles and codes of ethics when working with clients in mental health settings. This books covers legal and ethical concepts across a variety of professional counseling disciplines and stresses the integration of ethical, legal, and cultural factors in practice decision making.

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                                          • Kagel, Jill Doner, and Sandra Kopels. 2008. Social work records. Long Grove, IL: Waveland.

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                                            This is an excellent resource on documentation and recordkeeping. Chapter 8 covers federal privacy and records legislation and laws, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and state laws for specific client populations. Chapter 9 explains court documents, privilege, and retention and expungement of records.

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                                            • Reamer, Frederic. 2012. Boundary issues and dual relationships in the human services. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                              Text offers chapters and case studies on dealing with ethical concerns about boundaries, dual relationships, intimate relationships, and personal benefit. Risk management models, guidelines, and strategies are proposed. Other topics include self-disclosure, the bartering of services, electronic communication with clients, and conflicts of interest, such as gifts and favors.

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                                              • Strom-Gottfried, Kimberly. 2014. Straight talk about professional ethics. 2d ed. Chicago: Lyceum.

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                                                The seven core concepts of ethical practice and applicable case examples are presented. Ethical risks, ethical decision-making, and ways to sustain ethical habits are discussed to provide resources and guidelines for social work students and practitioners.

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                                                Regulatory and Professional Organizations

                                                Important information on requirements for social work regulation, licensing, and certification by regulatory bodies and professional organizations can be found on the Internet. Information on policies and standards for social work education in the United States is available from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), and in Canada, from the Canadian Association for Social Work Education. Information on regulatory authorities in the United States and Canada can be found on the Association of Social Work Boards website and on the Health & Care Professions Council website for the United Kingdom. Resources and membership benefits can be explored on websites for professional organizations, such as the Canadian Association of Social Workers, the National Association of Social Workers, the Center for Clinical Social Work, and the International Federation of Social Workers. The International Federation of Social Workers’ website also provides information on social worker regulation and Codes of Ethics through website links to over one hundred country members. For additional references on other professional associations and their Codes of Ethics and membership certification, readers can cross-reference Frederic G. Reamer’s section on Codes of Ethics in his article on “Ethics and Values in Social Work” in Oxford Bibliographies online. Readers have access to additional references on international professional organizations in Margaret Lombe’s article, “International Social Work and Education,” also in Oxford Bibliographies online.

                                                Licensure and Regulation

                                                General content on social work regulation and licensing in the United States is found in Hoffman 2008 and Marks and Knox 2008, with both resources presenting information on current types and requirements of social work licensure. Furness 2013 and McLaughlin 2007 report on the development and changes in the United Kingdom on regulating social workers, and Furness 2013 also provides an analysis of findings from current conduct complaints in the United Kingdom. Duke 2012 provides information on the impacts of legislation that mandated social worker registration regarding workforce issues and continuing education in New Zealand. Varzinskiene 2009 discusses the positive and negative impacts from the development of social work regulation in Lithuania. Social work students and practitioners often have many questions about the licensing exams here in the United States, and DeAngelis and Marson 2010 provides clear answers for the most commonly asked questions, while Marson, et al. 2011 offers information on different aspects of the exam, including the test construction and format, how to prepare for the exam, study strategies, and other test-taking tips.

                                                • DeAngelis, Donna, and Stephen Marson. 2010. 10 questions about the ASWB exams. New Social Worker (Summer): 24–25.

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                                                  The authors provide answers to the most commonly asked questions about the national licensing examinations.

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                                                  • Duke, Jan. 2012. Registration and professional practice. Social Work Now: The Practice Journal of Child, Work & Family (November): 9–16.

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                                                    An overview is presented of the impacts of the Social Workers Registration Act (2003) in New Zealand, which established professional qualifications and requirements for registration for social workers. Workforce planning, continuing education, professional supervision, and cultural competency requirements are discussed.

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                                                    • Furness, Sheila. 2013. Conduct matters: The regulation of social work in England. British Journal of Social Work Online (November).

                                                      DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bct178Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Social work regulation in the United Kingdom transferred to the Heath and Care Professions Council in 2012. This article contains an analysis of the findings of conduct hearings from 2006 through 2012 to compare differences in court and decision-making processes on sanctions for proven misconduct.

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                                                      • Hoffman, Kathleen. 2008. The basics of social work licensing. New Social Worker 9.2: 28–30.

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                                                        The author discusses the complexities of different social work licensing designations and titles in the United States. The basics of licensing are explained along with the requirements for licensed clinical social workers across state jurisdictions.

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                                                        • Marks, Andrew, and Karen Knox. 2008. Social work regulation and licensing. In Social workers’ desk reference. 2d ed. Edited by Albert R. Roberts, 148–155. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                          The authors present a historical overview of social worker regulation, including types of credentials typically utilized in social worker licensing. Definitions and differences between registration, certification, licensing, and endorsement are provided. Regulatory responsibilities of governing entities and the process to become credentialed in various jurisdictions are explained clearly.

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                                                          • Marson, Stephen, Robert Kersting, and Donna DeAngelis. 2011. What do I do when I fail the social work exam? New Social Worker (Summer): 16–18.

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                                                            This is a very useful document that provides the reader with information about the exam, test construction, study strategies, and suggestions on answering the test items.

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                                                            • McLaughlin, Kenneth. 2007. Regulation and risk in social work: The General Social Care Council and the Social Care Register in context. British Journal of Social Work 37.7 (October): 1263–1277.

                                                              DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bc1079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                              The increase in regulatory control in 2002 in the United Kingdom by the General Social Care Council and Social Care Register is discussed with respect to risk management, protection of the public, and improving the quality of care and pubic confidence in the social work profession.

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                                                              • Varzinskiene, Laura. 2009. Socialino darbo teorjia ir paktika. Socialinis Darbas 8.1: 124–130.

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                                                                English translation: “The Impact of Legal Regulation on the Formation of a Status of Social Work Profession.” Readers will gain knowledge about regulatory actions and functions in relation to social work practice in Lithuania. The author provides an overview of both positive and negative ramifications with regard to professional regulation.

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                                                                Competency and Continuing Education

                                                                Both Congress 2012 and Sowbel 2012 reflect on the importance of professional competency and continuing education requirements and opportunities in the United States; they offer commentary on the role of social work education in addressing issues of licensing and regulation of social workers. The importance of continued professional training in best practices for social workers providing substance abuse treatment is the focus for Quinn and Straussner 2010. Current challenges for professional development in the United Kingdom are discussed in Vitali 2011 and in Moriarty and Manthorpe 2013, including the need for more educational opportunities, which are currently only offered by higher education. Beddoe and Duke 2013 reports on the development of continuing educational programs for social workers in New Zealand, while Kent 2006 provides information on opportunities and limitations for continuing professional education in Australia. Campanini 2010 reports on the importance of self-evaluation and professional development for social workers in Italy and other European countries.

                                                                • Beddoe, Liz, and Jan Duke. 2013. Continuing professional development of registered social workers in New Zealand. AOTEAROA New Zealand Social Worker 25.3: 35–49.

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                                                                  The authors examine mandated continuing professional development activities of New Zealand social workers. Findings indicate most regulated professionals were not planning for their professional development and made little effort to focus continuing education on improvement in their practice field.

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                                                                  • Campanini, Annamaria. 2010. Evaluation “in” social work: A positive connection with experiences of continuing education in Italy. Revista de Asistenta Sociala IX.4: 165–173.

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                                                                    The importance of evaluating one’s own social work practice and professional development are significant topics for European social workers, and the author discusses the benefits and challenges of practice evaluation. Suggestions of specific tools for practice evaluation that are useful for both social workers and their organizations are provided.

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                                                                    • Congress, Elaine. 2012. Continuing education: Lifelong learning for social work practitioners and educators. Journal of Social Work Education 48.3: 397–401.

                                                                      DOI: 10.5175/JSWE.2012.201200085Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Editorial on the need for continuing social work education, current financial concerns, relevant topics for courses and workshops, and program evaluation efforts. Innovations in technology and changes to delivery of continuing education courses are also presented.

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                                                                      • Kent, Heather. 2006. Protecting clients from harm: The role of continuing professional education. Australian Social Work 59.4: 435–448.

                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/03124070600986002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        The Australian Association of Social Workers promotes self-regulation and continuing professional education to increase credibility of the profession and maintain high practice standards. The author maintains that the AASW must provide relevant continuing education programs on economics, globalization, and ideological issues and changes that impact clients and social workers.

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                                                                        • Moriarty, Jo, and Jill Manthorpe. 2013. Post-qualifying education for social workers: A continuing problem or a new opportunity? Social Work Education 33.3: 397–411.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2013.806468Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          Current challenges for professional development opportunities in the United Kingdom are discussed including funding constraints and lack of evidence about the long-term benefits of post-qualifying courses. More options are proposed, such as work-based or self-directed learning, rather than relying solely on higher education programs.

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                                                                          • Quinn, Gregorio, and Shulamith Straussner. 2010. Licensure and continuing education requirements for substance abuse training in social work. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 10 (October–December): 433–437.

                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/1533256X.2010.521084Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                            Discussion of the need for continued training for social workers on substance abuse practice issues. Since social workers are the largest providers of mental health services, the authors assert that training in substance abuse is necessary and assists the practitioner in providing professional services for clients with substance abuse issues.

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                                                                            • Sowbel, Lynda. 2012. Gatekeeping: Why shouldn’t we be ambivalent? Journal of Social Work Education 48.1 (Winter): 27–43.

                                                                              DOI: 10.5175/JSWE.2012.201000027Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Factors impacting professional competency and gatekeeping are discussed, including fear of litigation, the need for clear suitability criteria, and a lack of performance measures. Declining licensure passing rates and an increase in ethical violations support the author’s premise that gatekeeping is a fundamental ethical obligation for social work educators.

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                                                                              • Vitali, Sharon. 2011. The acquisition of professional social work competencies. Social Work Education 30.2 (March): 236–246.

                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2011.540400Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                This longitudinal study tracked how social work undergraduates acquired and demonstrated competency of the required National Occupational Standards for Social Work (United Kingdom). Measurement tools to document and evaluate student performance of social work competencies are presented.

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                                                                                Legal Aspects of Social Work Regulation

                                                                                References on legal factors that impact social work regulation and ethics complaints or violations are essential for social work practitioners, and Alexander 2003 and Slater and Finck 2012 provide information that is specific to social work practice and client rights. Stein 2004 focuses on professional liability and legal issues in specific fields of practice such as family violence, mental health treatment, and medical social work. The focus on mental health continues with Hartsell and Bernstein 2013, which provides an excellent resource on protection of client confidentiality and records for risk management in clinical practice. Dickens 2013 offers a framework for understanding how the law intersects with social work ethical challenges in the United Kingdom, and Regehr and Kanani 2006 provides information on Canadian legal systems and statues that are relevant to social work practice. Hansen, et al. 2010 presents laws that impact social work practice in Texas. Palley 2008 reports on federal regulations and laws that impact on school social work.

                                                                                • Alexander, Rudolph. 2003. Understanding legal concepts that influence social welfare policy and practice. Boston: Cengage Learning.

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                                                                                  A general overview is presented of the legal system and its operations. Information is tailored to specific practice arenas and identifies key aspects for social workers to successfully navigate the legal system for clients.

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                                                                                  • Dickens, Jonathan. 2013. Social work, law and ethics. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                    Frameworks for understanding codes of conduct, social work values and ethics, and the relevant laws are discussed, along with the dilemmas and challenges that occur in social work practice. Specific topic areas are presented, including end of life decisions, cultural considerations, safety, responsibility and blame, and court judgments.

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                                                                                    • Hansen, Vicki, J. Ray Hays, and Robert McPherson, eds. 2010. Texas law for the social worker: A 2010 sourcebook. Houston: Bayou.

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                                                                                      This reference book provides information and references on key policy and legal issues in social work practice in Texas. Discussion of case law, landmark decisions, state statutes, and official archives of the Attorney General Opinions is very useful, but specific to Texas.

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                                                                                      • Hartsell, Thomas, and Barton Bernstein. 2013. The portable lawyer for mental health professionals: An A-Z guide for protecting your clients, your practice, and yourself. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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                                                                                        Comprehensive content on protection of clinical records and client confidentiality, sample forms and contracts for clinical practice, discussion of legal issues in mental health, and advice on how to avoid malpractice suits.

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                                                                                        • Palley, Elizabeth. 2008. Federal school law and social work practice. School Social Work Journal 33.1 (Fall): 16–34.

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                                                                                          Readers will have access to information on the Federal laws that impact school social work. An excellent reference for school social workers for policy and program development that discusses the Individual Education Plans (IEP), disabilities, and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002.

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                                                                                          • Regehr, Cheryl, and Karima Kanani. 2006. Essential law for social work in Canada. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                            An overview is presented of Canadian federal and provincial legal systems and statues that impact social work practice. Ethical issues and privacy laws are discussed in relation to liability, responsibilities for record keeping, and appearing in court. Human rights, family law, child protection, and mental health content are included.

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                                                                                            • Slater, Lyn, and Kara Finck. 2012. Social work practice and the law. New York: Springer.

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                                                                                              Provides a historical framework for using the law in social work practice and has comprehensive coverage of criminal and civil proceedings. Also gives information on clients’ legal rights and how to advocate and challenge the law for clients’ best interests.

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                                                                                              • Stein, Theodore. 2004. The role of law in social work practice and administration. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                This comprehensive text covers the many intersections of social work and the law, including specific content on social work regulation, professional liability, and legal issues in specific fields of practice, such as domestic violence, child welfare, health care, and mental health.

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                                                                                                Legal Cases

                                                                                                Atkinson 2013 and the Association of Social Work Boards provide several resources on social work regulatory boards’ statutes, recent cases, and case sanctions from the ASWB Association News 2014, as well as presentations from the fall 2013 and spring 2014 Education Meetings of the ASWB. Kuczynski and Gibbs-Wahlberg 2005 discusses the implications for social workers on protection of privacy and confidentiality as mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The protection of confidentiality is also the focus of Lens 2000. NASW Law Notes is a series of publications on various legal situations and client populations social workers must be knowledgeable about when working in legal and court systems. Simone and Fulero 2005 discusses the Tarasoff cases and their impacts on social workers in regard to the duty to protect. Key legal cases that impact social work regulation are also provided in Alan E. Barsky’s article “Social Work and the Law,” in Oxford Bibliographies online; readers are encouraged to cross-reference sections of that article on Key Cases and Regulation of Social Work and Social Work Agencies for additional references.

                                                                                                • Association of Social Work Boards. 2014. To discipline or not?. Association News 24.3 (May/June).

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                                                                                                  The facts of three social work regulatory board cases are outlined, case outcomes are presented, and implications or lessons learned are discussed. Links to presentations on these cases are provided at the end of each case synopsis.

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                                                                                                  • Association of Social Work Boards.

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                                                                                                    This webpage provides online links to statutes and regulations of ASWB member boards and is a useful reference for social workers to examine the differences across states, territories, and provinces regarding social work regulation.

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                                                                                                    • Atkinson, Dale. 2013. Top recent regulatory cases. Association of Social Work Boards (November).

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                                                                                                      PowerPoint document available on ASWB’s website that presents numerous cases and decisions made by professional regulatory boards. Explanations of the case situations and sanctions or penalties for the defendants are provided.

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                                                                                                      • Kuczynski, Kay, and Patty Gibbs-Wahlberg. 2005. HIPAA the health care hippo: Despite the rhetoric, is privacy still an issue? Social Work 50.3 (July): 283–287.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/sw/50.3.283Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        The authors examine the implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) with regard to practice implications for social workers. They assert that most practitioners were and continue to be primarily focused on compliance rather than on practice implications.

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                                                                                                        • Lens, Vicki. 2000. Protecting the confidentiality of the therapeutic relationship: Jaffee v. Redmond. Social Work 45.3 (May): 273–276.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/sw/45.3.273Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          This court case granted privileged communication for social workers in federal court cases. The author discusses the important impact of this court decision in confirming social work as a profession with the same respect given to lawyers and psychiatrists.

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                                                                                                          • National Association of Social Workers (NASW). NASW Law Notes. Washington, DC: NASW.

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                                                                                                            NASW publications for social workers, covering general counsel, the NASW Legal Defense Fund, the NASW Law Note Series, regarding issues related to legal and court systems. Topics include child abuse reporting, legal rights of children, privileged communication, subpoenas, expert witnesses, and the juvenile justice system.

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                                                                                                            • Simone, Simone, and Solomon Fulero. 2005. Tarasoff and the duty to protect. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma 11.12: 145–168.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1300/J146v11n01_12Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              The implications of the Tarasoff cases are discussed with regard to clinician liability as a result of the landmark decision. Legal issues are identified and examined for subsequent cases involving the duty to warn.

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                                                                                                              Malpractice

                                                                                                              Reamer 2001, Reamer 2003, and Reamer 2005 are the premier works on social work malpractice and risk management; the earlier works focus on negligence and liability issues. Reamer 2014, the most recent book, provides readers with an easy-to-use risk management audit tool and with useful strategies for addressing lawsuits and ethics complaints. Another valuable resource for practitioners is Woody 2012, which focuses on how to protect one’s professional practice against legal actions. Daley and Doughty 2006 reports findings from research on ethical complaints on social workers in rural and urban areas. The fact that social work supervisors are also at risk for liability and malpractice suits is addressed by Lynch and Versen 2003, which provides case examples and strategies for risk reduction. Ungara 2012 examines common types of complaints against Canadian social workers.

                                                                                                              • Daley, Michael, and Michael Doughty. 2006. Ethics complaints in social work practice: A rural-urban comparison. Journal of Social Work Values & Ethics 3.1: 1–7.

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                                                                                                                This survey found that violations and complaints involving confidentiality and dual relationships are similar in both rural and urban areas, contrary to the common notion that they are greater in smaller, rural communities.

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                                                                                                                • Lynch, Joseph, and Gregory Versen. 2003. Social work supervisory liability: Risk factors and strategies for risk reduction. Administration in Social Work 27.2: 37–72.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1300/J147v27n02_05Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Direct and indirect liability concerns for social work supervisors are presented, including educational malpractice, vicarious liability, negligent hiring and supervision. Case examples and strategies for risk reduction are provided, including documentation, collegial consultation, reviewing applicable laws, codes of ethics, regulations, and consultation with ethics committees or legal counsel.

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                                                                                                                  • Reamer, Frederic. 2001. The social work ethics audit: A risk management tool. Washington, DC: NASW.

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                                                                                                                    The author presents a practical and easy-to-use tool that helps social workers assess liability risks in their professional practice. An overview of the most critical ethical issues and step-by-step directions for an ethics audit are helpful for preventing ethics complaints and lawsuits.

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                                                                                                                    • Reamer, Frederic. 2003. Social work malpractice and liability. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                      Regarded as a standard for educators and a reference for social work practitioners, the concepts of negligence, malpractice, and liability are explained, and court decisions related to social work malpractice and liability are discussed. Risk management strategies and suggestions for social workers named in lawsuits are provided.

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                                                                                                                      • Reamer, Frederic. 2005. Documentation in social work: Evolving ethical and risk-management standards. Social Work 50.4 (October): 325–334.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1093/sw/50.4.325Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        The author discusses the contemporary functions of documentation and document-related standards. Risk management guidelines and case examples are provided to address problems with malpractice lawsuits and ethical violations in regard to documentation content, language and terminology, credibility, and access to records.

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                                                                                                                        • Reamer, Frederic. 2014. Risk management in social work: Preventing professional malpractice liability, and disciplinary action. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                          This new edition provides content and case examples on negligence, malpractice, and liability issues in a variety of problems with impaired practitioners, improper treatment, fraud and deception, and digital technologies. Useful suggestions for dealing with lawsuits and licensing board complaints are included.

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                                                                                                                          • Ungara, Danielle. 2012. The impact of regulation in social work: Complaints against social workers. Canadian Social Work 14.1 (Autumn): 63–76.

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                                                                                                                            Discusses the need for professional regulation as a result of continued identified unethical practice behaviors by regulated professionals. Examines common behaviors that require regulatory action and the standard sanctions for violations.

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                                                                                                                            • Woody, Robert. 2012. Legal self-defense for mental health practitioners: Quality care and risk management strategies. New York: Springer.

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                                                                                                                              This is an excellent resource for practitioners on how to avoid legal actions from clients and protect your professional practice. Specific suggestions on risk management in record keeping, assessment and treatment with non-compliant and dangerous clients, and unjustified legal complaints are given, with real-life cases to illustrate.

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                                                                                                                              Specialized Practice Fields

                                                                                                                              Best practices and standards of care for specialized practice fields are relevant to social work regulation and licensing, as are competency and continuing professional development. Frey, et al. 2012 calls for the development of standards of practice for school social workers. Codes of conduct and standards of practice for clinical social workers with respect to diagnosis and treatment of mental illness are the focus for Harkness 2011 and Phillips 2013, while Shaw 2012 examines cultural competence and ethical standards for international social work. Munson 2011 reviews practice standards in forensic social work with respect to regulation Strom-Gottfried 2008 presents ethical issues and best practices with minors.

                                                                                                                              • Frey, Andy, Michelle Alvarez, Christine Sabatino, et al. 2012. The development of a national school social work practice model. Children and Schools 23.3 (July): 131–134.

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                                                                                                                                The authors advocate for a clearly defined set of standards regarding the provision of social work services in school settings and the development of a practice model to clarify the unique skill set of school social workers.

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                                                                                                                                • Harkness, Daniel. 2011. The diagnosis of mental disorders in clinical social work: A review of standards of care. Journal of Clinical Social Work 39:223–231.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1007/s10615-010-0263-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  This article provides valuable information on the different standards and codes of conduct for social workers who are licensed to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, as established through social work professional organizations, regulatory bodies, third-party payers (insurance and medical), and court decisions.

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                                                                                                                                  • Munson, Carolyn. 2011. Forensic social work practice standards: Definition and specification. Journal of Forensic Social Work 1:37–60.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/1936928X.2011.541200Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    Discussion of the development and implementation of practice standards, guidelines, and protocols for forensic social work is presented. This article provides support for forensic social work to use evidence-based practice theories and interventions to help limit unnecessary and costly regulation.

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                                                                                                                                    • Phillips, David. 2013. Clinical social workers as diagnosticians: Legal and ethical issues. Journal of Clinical Social Work 40:205–211.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s10615-013-0444-3Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      A history of use by clinical social workers of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, by the American Psychiatric Association, is presented, along with discussion of ethical and legal issues concerning scope of practice, informed consent, standards of care, malpractice, misdiagnosis, and other regulatory violations.

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                                                                                                                                      • Shaw, Siddharth. 2012. Ethical standards for transnational mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS): Do no harm, preventing cross-cultural errors and inviting pushback. Journal of Clinical Social Work 40:438–449.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s10615-011-0348-zSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        Guidelines for MHPSS intervention in humanitarian aid and mass disasters were developed in 2007. Examples of cultural errors and harm by outsiders are presented in this article with discussion of cases involving violations of informed consent and ineffective intervention. Best practices for cultural competence and adaptation are also offered.

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                                                                                                                                        • Strom-Gottfried, Kimberly. 2008. The ethics of practice with minors: High stakes, hard choices. Chicago: Lyceum.

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                                                                                                                                          Discussion and analysis of ethical practice with minors and the potential implications that working with minors in treatment can present. Examines the necessary best practices to engage minor clients while maintaining high ethical standards in this field of practice.

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                                                                                                                                          Research

                                                                                                                                          Research studies examining data on violations by social workers are prevalent, with Boland-Prom 2009 and Daley and Doughty 2007a and Daley and Doughty 2007b reporting on the most frequent types of complaints and sanctions in the United States. Wiles 2011 discusses ethical and methodological problems in research on professional regulation in the United Kingdom. Albright and Thyer 2010 evaluates the validity of the ASWB national licensing exam in predicting practitioner competence. Cochran and Landuyt 2011 examines issues impacting on professional development and training. Differences across professional disciplines in required training and professional development in family therapy is examined in Crane, et al. 2010. The Center for Workforce Studies 2006 reports the results from a national survey on education, training, and regulation of social workers in the United States.

                                                                                                                                          • Albright, David, and Bruce Thyer. 2010. A test of the validity of the LCSW examination: Quis custodiet ipos custodes? Social Work Research 34.4: 229–234.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/swr/34.4.229Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Authors provide an examination of the clinical exam, issued by the ASWB, with regard to validity issues to determine the exam’s ability to indicate practitioner readiness at the clinical level.

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                                                                                                                                            • Boland-Prom, Kim. 2009. Results from a national study of social workers sanctioned by state licensing boards. Social Work 54.4 (October): 351–360.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/sw/54.4.351Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              This study examines reports from twenty-seven state social work regulatory boards on sanctions for unprofessional practice during a six-year period (n = 874). Findings show that the most frequent violations are dual relationships, license-related problems, violations of best practices or standards of care, and criminal offenses.

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                                                                                                                                              • Center for Workforce Studies. 2006. Licensed social workers in the United States, 2004. Washington, DC: National Association of Social Workers.

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                                                                                                                                                National study defines and identifies the parameters of the social work profession and examines the adequacy of the social work labor force in the United States. Findings on education, training, and regulation of social workers are included; supplemental reports on licensing and specific fields of practice are available.

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                                                                                                                                                • Cochran, Gerald, and Noel Landuyt. 2011. The second annual survey of continuing education programs conducted by professional development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education. Professional Development: The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education 14.1: 23–34.

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                                                                                                                                                  A cross-sectional survey of committee members of CSWE’s Community Education Network on continuing education programs and courses. Findings indicate a decreasing trend in budget funding. Evaluation of courses or workshops is reported by 88 percent of the survey participants. New and discontinued courses are identified, with reasons for offering or discontinuing.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Crane, D. Russell, Aaron Shaw, Jacob Christianson, Jeffry Larson, James Harper, and Leslie Feinauer. 2010. Comparison of family therapy educational and experience requirements for licensure or certification in six mental health disciplines. American Journal of Family Therapy 38:357–373.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/01926187.2010.513895Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    This content analysis examines the amount of required family therapy coursework and training for licensure across six mental health professions (social work, marriage and family therapists (MFT), licensed professional counselors (LPC), psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and psychiatry). Results indicate that MFT’s and LPC’s require more training and education in family therapy for licensure.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Daley, Michael, and Michael Doughty. 2007a. Unethical social work: Comparing licensing and NASW perspectives. Arrete 30.2: 35–50.

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                                                                                                                                                      This research study examines ethics complaints against licensed social workers in Texas between 1995 and 2003 to identify and compare similarities between ethics reviews in the public regulatory sector and the National Association of Social Work. Findings indicate that poor practice and boundary violations generate the largest number of complaints.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Daley, Michael, and Michael Doughty. 2007b. Preparing BSWs for ethical practice: Lessons from licensing data. Journal of Social Work Value & Ethics 4.2: 3–8.

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                                                                                                                                                        The authors examine ethics complaints on licensed BSW social workers over a nine-year period. Descriptive characteristics are reported, with licensed BSWs receiving a much lower number of complaints compared to licensed MSWs. The most common violations for BSWs are poor practice (25.9 percent), boundary issues (16.9 percent), and honesty (16.4 percent).

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                                                                                                                                                        • Wiles, Fran. 2011. Blurring private-professional boundaries: Does it matter? Issues in researching social work students’ perceptions about professional regulation. Ethics and Social Welfare 5.1 (March): 36–51.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/17496535.2010.516114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          This study examines the implementation of professional regulation in the United Kingdom, where the statute requires both professionals and social work students to acknowledge and agree to the codes of practice. A discussion of ethical and methodological issues is also presented.

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                                                                                                                                                          Emerging Issues

                                                                                                                                                          Recent developments in social media, electronic, and online technologies have created ethical problems for social work practitioners with respect to confidentiality, privacy, and self-disclosure. Halabuza 2014 and Strom-Gottfried, et al. 2014 offer guidelines for ethical management of social media and social networking websites. Reamer 2013 provides instruction about digital and electronic communications with clients with recommendations on strategies to protect both clients and professionals. Conlon and Aldredge 2013 explores recent changes in federal policies for LGBT patients to provide medical social workers with important information on compliance. Donaldson, et al. 2014 reports on how current social work regulation and the lack of specialty recognition impacts at the macro level of practice.

                                                                                                                                                          • Conlon, Annemarie, and Patti Aldredge. 2013. Department of Health and Human Services Changes: Implications for hospital social workers. Health & Social Work 38.1 (February): 19–27.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/hsw/hls063Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Case law is presented that initiated changes in the Department of Heath and Human Services policies and directives, ensuring equal rights for LGBT patients on visitation, advanced directives, and other clinical and medical aspects of care. Social workers’ readiness to implement these policy changes and implications for practice is discussed.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Donaldson, Linda, Katharine Hill, Sarah Ferguson, Sondra Fogel, and Christina Erickson. 2014. Contemporary social work licensure: Implications for macro social work practice and education. Social Work 59.1 (January): 52–61.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/sw/swt045Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Provides an overview of the current state of social work licensing and analysis of the impacts of social work regulation on macro social work education and practice. Content includes the role of state licensing regulatory boards and how the lack of macro level exams and licenses impacts professional practice.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Halabuza, Donalda. 2014. Guidelines for social workers’ use of social networking websites. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics 11.1 (Spring): 23–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                The author discusses the increased use of social media and social networking websites in social work professional practice and offers suggestions and guidelines for ethical and legal issues that can occur, including dual relationships, boundary violations, breaches of privacy and confidentiality, and professional integrity and dignity.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Reamer, Frederic. 2013. Social work in a digital age: Ethical and risk management challenges. Social Work 58.2: 63–172.

                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1093/sw/swt003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                  This article provides content on digital, online, and electronic social work services and identifies ethical issues associated with online, telephone, and video counseling and practice-related communications. Relevant standards of practice and risk management strategies are presented that protect both clients and social workers.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Strom-Gottfried, Kimberly, Mary Shannon Thomas, and Hillary Anderson. 2014. Social work and social media: Reconciling ethical standards and emerging technologies. Journal of Social Work Values & Ethics 11.1 (Spring): 54–65.

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                                                                                                                                                                    An overview of online forms of networking and sharing information is presented that discusses positive and negative outcomes that can arise for social workers. Professional and ethical problems with boundaries, privacy, self-disclosure, conflicts of interest, and informed consent are discussed, and recommendations for ethical online practices are provided.

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