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The Pennsylvania Society for Clinical Social Work (PSCSW) was established in 1971 to promote and advance specialization of clinical practice within the social work profession. It is an organization of clinical social workers who practice in a variety of settings including family agencies, mental health clinics, psychiatric hospitals, medical facilities, geriatric settings, schools, and private practice throughout Pennsylvania.

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Legislative Alert - Action Required before June 30th!
Practice Act

Our organization has some exciting and important news to share. Our lobbyist, David Tive, and NASW PA Legislation Chair Tara Breitsprecher met with Rep. Nick Miccarelli (R-Delaware) and he has agreed to be prime sponsor for our Practice Act Bill, which is something we have been working on for quite some time.  As you know, the Practice Act Bill, if passed, will require that any person who is engaged in the independent practice of clinical social work must hold a License as a clinical social worker regardless of what title that person uses.  This is called Practice Protection.

In addition, the bill would allow LCSWs to Legally Diagnose a client.  This will ensure that the client will be able to be reimbursed by his/her health insurance policy and allow (legally!) the LCSW to clearly state what he/she is treating the patient for.  Both of these changes are also consumer protection measures.

Nick Miccarelli will send out a memo to all other House members asking them to sign on as co-sponsors. The House was off session for two weeks, and this bill should be officially introduced now.

This is why it is important to stress that we, as members of PSCSW contact our local legislators and ask them to sign on as co-sponsors for the Practice Act Bill that Rep. Miccarelli will be introducing.  It is essential that we have as many co-sponsors on the bill as we can. 

How do you do that? 

If you are now sure how to contact your legislator, see the link below. You can call, fax or email your legislator the letter below.

Click here to find your legislator. (Look to the left side.) All you need to do is to fill in your address and the website will bring up the name of your state House member and state Senator along with all necessary contact information

If you are calling your legislator, here is what you need to convey:

  • The message that you need to deliver right now (before the end of June) is to encourage your legislator to contact Rep. Miccarelli’s office and sign up as a co-sponsor of the bill.  The more co-sponsors we can get on the bill the better our chances of getting it considered by the Professional Licensure Committee.
  • A second message that needs to be delivered is to ask the legislator to vote for the bill even if he/she does not want to be a co-sponsor.  The legislator needs to be told how crucial this is for the clients/patients of LCSWs to protect them from unlicensed persons claiming to practice clinical social work but not being qualified to do so.

Click here for the letter to your legislator, or if you prefer, you can cut and paste it below.

June 2015

Dear Rep. __________,

Recently you received a co-sponsorship memo from Rep. Nick Miccarelli asking you to join him in sponsoring a bill to update the licensure law for licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs).  I am writing to ask you to be a co-sponsor of that bill.

LCSWs have the highest level of education and experience of any of the three types of licensed social workers in the state.  Prior to becoming licensed, an LCSW must earn a master's degree in social work and go through at least 3,000 hours of supervised practice in clinical work.  Once licensed, LCSWs provide individual and group therapy, including psychotherapy, to people all across the state.  In fact, LCSWs are much more accessible and more affordable than other mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists.  Each of the professions plays its own essential role in providing mental health services.

The licensure law for LCSWs is 18 years old and has not been significantly updated in that time even though the health care system in the U.S. has changed greatly.  This has left LCSWs and the patients they serve well behind when it comes to giving and receiving mental health services.  The bill the Rep. Miccarelli is sponsoring will change that situation by making two major changes in current law.  The first is to require that a person cannot engage in the independent practice of clinical social work unless that person holds a license to do so.  Right now, any person can practice clinical social work as long as he or she uses some other title.  In fact, you could have your LCSW license in some other state revoked for misconduct, move to Pennsylvania, and resume your practice as long as you use a different title.  Rep. Miccarelli's bill will prevent that by inserting "practice protection" into the law.

The second change is to explicitly allow LCSWs to diagnose their patients. Currently, LCSWs must perform diagnosis on their patients for three reasons. First, it is necessary in order for the LCSW to know whether the person is someone that the LCSW can treat or if he/she must be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist.  Second, it is necessary in order for the LCSW to know what treatment to provide to the patient.  And third, it is necessary in order for the patient to have the treatment covered by his/her health insurance.  In fact, LCSWs use the exact same form in applying for insurance coverage that other mental health professionals use.  But, the definition of the practice of clinical social work in the current law does not include the word "diagnosis".  This bill will remedy that problem.

For all of these reasons I urge you to contact Rep. Miccarelli's office and add your name to the list of sponsors for the bill.

I thank you for your interest and support.
Sincerely,