Social Work Regulation
- LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 10 March 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0196
- LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 10 March 2015
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0196
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.
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.
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.
Bibus, Anthony, and Needha Boutté-Queen. 2013. Regulating social work: A primer on licensing practice. Chicago: Lyceum.
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.
Dolgoff, Ralph, Donna Harrington, and Frank Lowenberg. 2012. Ethical decisions for social work practice. 9th ed. Brooks/Cole Empowerment Series. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
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.
Groshong, Laura. 2009. Clinical social work practice and regulation. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.
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.
Pollack, Daniel, and Toby Kleinman. 2003. Social work and the courts: A casebook. London: Routledge.
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.
Reamer, Frederic. 2006a. Social work values and ethics. 3d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
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.
Reamer, Frederic. 2006b. Ethical standards in social work: A review of the NASW Code of Ethics. 2d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.
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.
Schroeder, Leila. 1995. The legal environment of social work. Washington, DC: NASW.
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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- Adolescent Depression
- Adolescent Pregnancy
- Adoption Home Study Assessments
- Adult Protective Services in the United States
- African Americans
- Aging, Physical Health and
- Alcohol and Drug Abuse Problems
- Alcohol and Drug Problems, Prevention of Adolescent and Yo...
- Alcohol Problems: Practice Interventions
- Alcohol Use Disorder
- Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
- Anti-Oppressive Practice
- Asian Americans
- Asian-American Youth
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Baccalaureate Social Workers
- Behavioral Health
- Behavioral Social Work Practice
- Bereavement Practice
- Brief Therapies in Social Work: Task-Centered Model and So...
- Bullying and Social Work Intervention
- Canadian Social Welfare, History of
- Case Management in Mental Health in the United States
- Child Poverty
- Child Welfare
- Child Welfare and Child Protection in Europe, History of
- Children of Incarcerated Parents
- Chronic Illness
- Clinical Social Work Practice with Adult Lesbians
- Cognitive Behavior Therapies with Diverse and Stressed Pop...
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Community Development
- Community Policing
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Community-Needs Assessment
- Comparative Social Work
- Conflict Resolution
- Council on Social Work Education
- Counseling Female Offenders
- Criminal Justice
- Crisis Interventions
- Cultural Competence and Ethnic Sensitive Practice
- Culture, Ethnicity, Substance Use, and Substance Use Disor...
- Dementia Care, Ethical Aspects of
- Depression and Cancer
- Development and Infancy (Birth to Age Three)
- Direct Practice in Social Work
- Domestic Violence Among Immigrants
- Eating Disorders
- Ecological Framework
- Economic Evaluation
- Elder Mistreatment
- End-of-Life Decisions
- Epigenetics for Social Workers
- Ethics and Values in Social Work
- Evidence-based Social Work Practice
- Evidence-based Social Work Practice: Finding Evidence
- Evidence-based Social Work Practice: Issues, Controversies...
- Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs
- Families with Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Parents
- Family Caregiving
- Family Group Conferencing
- Family Policy
- Family Services
- Family Therapy
- Family Violence
- Fathering Among Families Served By Child Welfare
- Field Education
- Financing Health-Care Delivery in the United States
- Forensic Social Work
- Foster Care
- Gay Men
- Generalist Practice and Advanced Generalist Practice
- Group Work
- Group Work across Populations, Challenges, and Settings
- Group Work, Research, Best Practices, and Evidence-based
- Harm Reduction
- Health Care Reform
- Health Disparities
- Health Social Work
- History of Social Work and Social Welfare, 1950-1980
- History of Social Work and Social Welfare, pre-1900
- History of Social Work from 1980-2014
- History of Social Work in China
- History of Social Work in Northern Ireland
- History of Social Work in the Republic of Ireland
- History of Social Work in the United Kingdom
- HIV/AIDS Prevention with Adolescents
- Homelessness Outside the United States
- Human Needs
- Human Trafficking, Victims of
- Immigrant Policy in the United States
- Immigrants and Refugees
- Immigrants and Refugees: Evidence-based Social Work Practi...
- Impaired Professionals
- Implementation Science and Practice
- Indigenous Peoples
- Individual Placement and Support (IPS) Supported Employmen...
- International Social Welfare
- International Social Work
- International Social Work and Education
- International Social Work and Social Welfare in Southern A...
- Internet and Video Game Addiction
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Intervention with Traumatized Populations
- Intimate Partner Violence
- Juvenile Justice
- Korean Americans
- Latinos and Latinas
- Law, Social Work and the
- Life Span
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Management and Administration in Social Work
- Maternal Mental Health
- Measurement, Scales, and Indices
- Medical Illness
- Men: Health and Mental Health Care
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Diagnosis and the Addictive Substance Disord...
- Mental Health Needs of Older People, Assessing the
- Mental Illness: Children
- Mental Illness: Elders
- Middle East and North Africa, International Social Work an...
- Military Social Work
- Mixed Methods Research
- Motivational Interviewing
- Native Americans
- Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders
- Neighborhood Social Cohesion
- Neuroscience and Social Work
- Nicotine Dependence
- Occupational Social Work
- Organizational Development and Change
- Pain Management
- Palliative Care
- Palliative Care: Evolution and Scope of Practice
- Parent Training
- Philosophy of Science and Social Work
- Physical Disabilities
- Police Social Work
- Positive Youth Development
- Postmodernism and Social Work
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Practice Interventions and Aging
- Practice Interventions with Adolescents
- Practice Research
- Primary Prevention in the 21st Century
- Productive Engagement of Older Adults
- Profession, Social Work
- Psychiatric Rehabilitation
- Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Theory
- Psychopathology and Social Work Practice
- Psychopharmacology and Social Work Practice
- Psychosocial Framework
- Psychosocial Intervention with Women
- Qualitative Research
- Race and Racism
- Religiously Affiliated Agencies
- Reproductive Health
- Research Ethics
- Restorative Justice
- Risk Assessment in Child Protection Services
- Risk Management in Social Work
- Rural Social Work Practice
- School Social Work
- School Violence
- School-Based Delinquency Prevention
- Services and Programs for Pregnant and Parenting Youth
- Severe and Persistent Mental Illness: Adults
- Sexual Assault
- Single-System Research Designs
- Social Development
- Social Insurance and Social Justice
- Social Intervention Research
- Social Justice and Social Work
- Social Movements
- Social Planning
- Social Policy
- Social Security in the United States (OASDHI)
- Social Work Education and Research
- Social Work Regulation
- Social Work Research Methods
- Solution-Focused Therapy
- Strategic Planning
- Strengths Perspective
- Strengths-Based Models in Social Work
- Supplemental Security Income
- Survey Research
- Systematic Review Methods
- Task-Centered Practice
- Technology, Human Relationships, and Human Interaction
- Technology in Social Work
- Terminal Illness
- Transdisciplinary Science
- Translational Science and Social Work
- United States, History of Social Welfare in the
- Veteran Services
- Victim Services
- Welfare State Reform in France
- Welfare State Theory
- Women and Macro Social Work Practice
- Women's Health Care
- Work and Family in the German Welfare State
- Working with Non-Voluntary and Mandated Clients
- Young and Adolescent Lesbians
- Youth at Risk
- Youth Services