Education Law

Article 154, Social Work

Effective June 18, 2010

§ 7700. Introduction. | § 7701. Definitions. | § 7702. Authorized practice and the use of the titles "licensed master social worker" and "licensed clinical social worker". | § 7703. State board for social work. | § 7704. Requirements for a license. | § 7705. Limited permits. | § 7706. Exempt persons. | § 7707. Special provisions. | § 7708. Boundaries of professional practice. | § 7709. Hospital privileges. | § 7710. Mandatory continuing education | Note: Sunset provision for individuals employed by certain programs

§ 7700. Introduction.

This article applies to the profession and practice of social work, the practice of licensed master social work and the practice of clinical social work, and to the use of the titles "licensed master social worker", and "licensed clinical social worker". The general provisions for all professions contained in article one hundred thirty of this title apply to this article.


§ 7701. Definitions.

  1. Practice of licensed master social work.
    1. The practice of licensed master social work shall mean the professional application of social work theory, principles, and the methods to prevent, assess, evaluate, formulate and implement a plan of action based on client needs and strengths, and intervene to address mental, social, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and addictive disorders, conditions and disabilities, and of the psychosocial aspects of illness and injury experienced by individuals, couples, families, groups, communities, organizations, and society.
    2. Licensed master social workers engage in the administration of tests and measures of psychosocial functioning, social work advocacy, case management, counseling, consultation, research, administration and management, and teaching.
    3. Licensed master social workers provide all forms of supervision other than supervision of the practice of licensed clinical social work as defined in subdivision two of this section.
    4. Licensed master social workers practice licensed clinical social work in facility settings or other supervised settings approved by the department under supervision in accordance with the commissioner's regulations.
  2. Practice of clinical social work.
    1. The practice of clinical social work encompasses the scope of practice of licensed master social work and, in addition, includes the diagnosis of mental, emotional, behavioral, addictive and developmental disorders and disabilities and of the psychosocial aspects of illness, injury, disability and impairment undertaken within a psychosocial framework; administration and interpretation of tests and measures of psychosocial functioning; development and implementation of appropriate assessment-based treatment plans; and the provision of crisis oriented psychotherapy and brief, short-term and long-term psychotherapy and psychotherapeutic treatment to individuals, couples, families and groups, habilitation, psychoanalysis and behavior therapy; all undertaken for the purpose of preventing, assessing, treating, ameliorating and resolving psychosocial dysfunction with the goal of maintaining and enhancing the mental, emotional, behavioral, and social functioning and well-being of individuals, couples, families, small groups, organizations, communities and society.
    2. Diagnosis in the context of licensed clinical social work practice is the process of distinguishing, beyond general social work assessment, between similar mental, emotional, behavioral, developmental and addictive disorders, impairments and disabilities within a psychosocial framework on the basis of their similar and unique characteristics consistent with accepted classification systems.
    3. Psychotherapy in the context of licensed clinical social work practice is the use of verbal methods in interpersonal relationships with the intent of assisting a person or persons to modify attitudes and behavior which are intellectually, socially, or emotionally maladaptive.
    4. Development of assessment-based treatment plans in the context of licensed clinical social work practice refers to the development of an integrated plan of prioritized interventions, that is based on the diagnosis and psychosocial assessment of the client, to address mental, emotional, behavioral, developmental and addictive disorders, impairments and disabilities, reactions to illnesses, injuries, disabilities and impairments, and social problems.

§ 7702. Authorized practice and the use of the titles "licensed master social worker" and "licensed clinical social worker".

  1. In addition to the licensed social work services included in subdivisions one and two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article, licensed master social workers and licensed clinical social workers may perform the following social work functions that do not require a license under this article, including but not limited to:
    1. Serve as a community organizer, planner, or administrator for social service programs in any setting.
    2. Provide supervision and/or consultation to individuals, groups, institutions and agencies.
    3. Serve as a faculty member or instructor in an educational setting.
    4. Plan and/or conduct research projects and program evaluation studies.
    5. Maintain familiarity with both professional and self-help systems in the community in order to assist the client in those services when necessary.
    6. Assist individuals or groups with difficult day to day problems such as finding employment, locating sources of assistance, organizing community groups to work on a specific problem.
    7. Consult with other agencies on problems and cases served in common and coordinating services among agencies or providing case management.
    8. Conduct data gathering on social problems.
    9. Serve as an advocate for those clients or groups of clients whose needs are not being met by available programs or by a specific agency.
    10. Assess, evaluate and formulate a plan of action based on client need.
    11. Provide training to community groups, agencies, and other professionals.
    12. Provide administrative supervision.
  2. Practice of "licensed master social work" and use of the title "licensed master social worker" and designation "LMSW".
    1. Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice "licensed master social work" as defined in subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article.
    2. Only a person licensed pursuant to subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article shall use the title "licensed master social worker" or the designation "LMSW".
  3. Practice of "licensed clinical social work" and use of the title "licensed clinical social worker" and designation "LCSW".
    1. Only a person licensed or exempt under this article shall practice "licensed clinical social work" as defined in subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article.
    2. Only a person licensed pursuant to subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article shall use the title "licensed clinical social worker" or the designation "LCSW".

§7703. State board for social work.

A state board for social work shall be appointed by the board of regents on recommendation of the commissioner for the purpose of assisting the board of regents and the department on matters of professional licensing, practice and conduct in accordance with section sixty-five hundred eight of this title. The board shall be composed of not less than twelve members, of which five shall be licensed clinical social workers, five shall be licensed master social workers and two members of the public. Members of the first board need not be licensed prior to their appointment to the board. The terms of the first appointed members shall be staggered so that four are appointed for three years, four are appointed for four years, and four are appointed for five years. An executive secretary to the board shall be appointed by the board of regents on recommendation of the commissioner and shall be licensed pursuant to this article.


§ 7704. Requirements for a license.

  1. To qualify for a license as a "licensed master social worker" an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:
    1. Application: file an application with the department;
    2. Education: have received an education, including a master's of social work degree from a program registered by the department, or determined by the department to be the substantial equivalent, in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
    3. Experience: meet no requirement as to experience;
    4. Examination: pass an examination satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
    5. Age: be at least twenty-one years of age;
    6. Character: be of good moral character as determined by the department; and
    7. Fees: pay a fee of one hundred fifteen dollars to the department for an initial license, and a fee of one hundred fifty-five dollars for each triennial registration period.
  2. To qualify for a license as a "licensed clinical social worker", an applicant shall fulfill the following requirements:
    1. Application: file an application with the department;
    2. Education: have received an education, including a master's of social work degree from a program registered by the department, or determined by the department to be the substantial equivalent, that includes completion of a core curriculum which includes at least twelve credit hours of clinical courses,, in accordance with the commissioner's regulations; a person who has received a master's, or equivalent degree in social work, during which they did not complete a core curriculum which includes clinical courses, may satisfy this requirement by completing equivalent post-graduate clinical coursework, in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
    3. Experience: have at least three years full-time supervised post-graduate clinical social work experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment plans,, or its part-time equivalent, obtained over a continuous period not to exceed six years, under the supervision, satisfactory to the department, of a psychiatrist, a licensed psychologist, or a licensed clinical social worker in a facility setting or other supervised settings approved by the department. Satisfactory experience obtained in an entity operating under a waiver issued by the department pursuant to section sixty-five hundred three-a of this title may be accepted by the department, notwithstanding that such experience may have been obtained prior to the effective date of such section sixty-five hundred three-a and/or prior to the entity having obtained a waiver. The department may, for good cause shown, accept satisfactory experience that was obtained in a setting that would have been eligible for a waiver but which has not obtained a waiver from the department or experience that was obtained in good faith by the applicant under the belief that appropriate authorization had been obtained for the experience, provided that such experience meets all other requirements for acceptable experience;
    4. Examination: pass an examination satisfactory to the board and in accordance with the commissioner's regulations;
    5. Age: be at least twenty-one years of age;
    6. Character: be of good moral character as determined by the department; and
    7. Fees: pay a fee of one hundred fifteen dollars to the department for an initial license and a fee of one hundred fifty-five dollars for each triennial registration period.

§ 7705. Limited permits.

  1. On recommendation of the board, the department may issue a limited permit to practice licensed clinical social work and use the title licensed clinical social worker, or to practice licensed master social work and use the title licensed master social worker to an applicant who has met all requirements for licensure as a licensed master social worker or a licensed clinical social worker except those relating to the examination and provided that the individual is under the general supervision of a licensed master social worker or a licensed clinical social worker, as determined by the department. This limited permit shall be valid for a period of not more than twelve months.
  2. The fee for each limited permit shall be seventy dollars.

§7706. Exempt persons.

Nothing contained in this article shall be construed to:

  1. Apply to the practice, conduct, activities, services or use of any title by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice medicine within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one of this title or by any person registered to perform services as a physician assistant within the state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-one-B of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice psychology within this state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-three of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice nursing as a registered professional nurse or nurse practitioner within this state pursuant to article one hundred thirty-nine of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice occupational therapy within this state pursuant to article one hundred fifty-six of this title or by any person licensed or otherwise authorized to practice mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, creative arts therapy, or psychoanalysis within the state pursuant to article one hundred sixty-three of this title; provided, however, that no physician, physician assistant, registered professional nurse, nurse practitioner, psychologist ,occupational therapist, licensed mental health counselor, licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed creative arts therapist, or licensed psychoanalyst may use the titles "licensed clinical social worker" or "licensed master social worker", unless licensed under this article.
  2. Prevent or prohibit an individual possessing a baccalaureate of social work degree or its equivalent from the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work as defined in paragraphs (a) and (b) of subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article under supervision by a licensed master social worker, a licensed clinical social worker or in accordance with the commissioner's regulations.
  3. Prevent or prohibit a licensed master social worker from the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed clinical social work as defined in subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article in a facility setting and under supervision in accordance with the commissioner's regulations.
  4. Prevent or prohibit the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work as defined in subdivision one of section seventy-seven hundred one of this article by individuals, churches, schools, teachers, organizations, or not-for- profit businesses which are providing instruction, advice, support, encouragement or information to individuals, families and relational groups.
  5. Prevent or prohibit the performance of activities and services within the scope of practice of licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work as defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article by the following:
    1. any individual who is credentialed under any law, including attorneys, rape crisis counselors, credentialed alcoholism and substance abuse counselors whose scope of practice includes the practices defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article from performing or claiming to perform work authorized by applicable provisions of this chapter and the mental hygiene law;
    2. provision of pastoral counseling services by any member of the clergy or christian science practitioner, from providing pastoral counselling services within the context of his or her ministerial charge or obligation;
    3. students who are enrolled in a baccalaureate of social work or professional graduate level social work program of study, and which are required to perform as part of the field work component of that program, services provided under the supervision of a field work supervisor approved by the program;
    4. on the part of a student or trainee who is enrolled in an institution or program registered by the department or accredited by an accrediting organization acceptable to the department to provide training in a discipline or profession, other than social work or clinical social work, that is licensed pursuant to this title, where such activities and services are authorized within the definition of the scope of practice of the profession, or discipline in which he or she is being trained as set forth in the education law or the commissioner's regulations, provided that such services are performed under the regular and ongoing supervision of a licensee in the profession or discipline in which he or she is being trained who assumes professional responsibility for the services performed under his or her supervision and that such activities and the provision of such services are a formal part of the professional training program in which he or she is enrolled;
    5. any federal, state, county or municipal employee performing clinical social work services upon the effective date of this section for the period during which they maintain such employment with such governmental unit within the context of such employment and shall be limited to the services provided upon such effective date; and
    6. any employee performing clinical social work services on the effective date of this section for the period during which they maintain such employment with such entity within the context of such employment, and shall be limited to the services provided prior to such effective date.
  6. Prohibit the practice of licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work, to the extent permissible within the scope of practice of such professions, by any not-for-profit corporation or education corporation providing services within the state of New York and operating under a waiver pursuant to section sixty-five hundred three-a of this title, provided that such entities offering licensed master social work or licensed clinical social work services shall only provide such services through an individual appropriately licensed or otherwise authorized to provide such services or a professional entity authorized by law to provide such services.
  7. Prevent a person without a license from performing assessments such as basic information collection, gathering of demographic data, and informal observations, screening and referral used for general eligibility for a program or service and determining the functional status of an individual for the purpose of determining need for services unrelated to a behavioral health diagnosis or treatment plan. Such licensure shall not be required to create, develop or implement a service plan unrelated to a behavioral health diagnosis or treatment plan. Such service plans shall include, but are not limited to, job training and employability, housing, general public assistance, in home services and supports or home-delivered meals, investigations conducted or assessments made by adult or child protective services, adoption home studies and assessments, family service plans, transition plans and permanency planning activities, de-escalation techniques, peer services or skill development. A license under this article shall not be required for persons to participate as a member of a multi-disciplinary team to implement a behavioral health services or treatment plan; provided however, that such team shall include one or more professionals licensed under this article or articles one hundred thirty-one, one hundred fifty-three or one hundred sixty-three of this chapter; and provided, further, that the activities performed by members of the team shall be consistent with the scope of practice for each team member licensed or authorized under title VIII of this chapter, and those who are not so authorized may not engage in the following restricted practices: the diagnosis of mental, emotional, behavioral, addictive and developmental disorders and disabilities; patient assessment and evaluating; the provision of psychotherapeutic treatment; the provision of treatment other than psychotherapeutic treatment; and/or the development and implementation of assessment-based treatment plans as defined in section seventy-seven hundred one of this article. Provided, further, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as requiring a license for any particular activity or function based solely on the fact that the activity or function is not listed in this subdivision.

§ 7707. Special provisions.

  1. Any person who is licensed as a certified social worker on the effective date of this article shall be licensed as a licensed master social worker without meeting any additional requirements.
  2. Any person who possesses a master's of social work degree on the effective date of this section, who has five years of post-graduate social work employment and meets the requirements for a license pursuant to this article, except for examination, and who files with the department within one year of the effective date of this section shall be licensed as a licensed master social worker.
  3. Any person who is licensed as a certified social worker on the effective date of this section and who has been authorized pursuant to section three thousand two hundred twenty-one or section four thousand three hundred three of the insurance law shall be licensed as a licensed clinical social worker without meeting any additional requirements.
  4. Any person who is licensed as a certified social worker on the effective date of this section, but who has not received authorization pursuant to section three thousand two hundred twenty-one or four thousand three hundred three of the insurance law, who files with the department within one year of the effective date of this section an application pursuant to subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article, who demonstrates to the satisfaction of the department that they meet the experience requirements for authorization pursuant to section three thousand two hundred twenty-one or four thousand three hundred three of the insurance law, shall be licensed as a licensed clinical social worker without meeting any further requirements.
  5. Licensed master social workers and licensed clinical social workers may use accepted classifications of signs, symptoms, dysfunctions and disorders, including, but not limited to, classifications used in the practice setting for the purpose of providing mental health services.

§ 7708. Boundaries of professional practice.

Any individual whose license or authority to practice derives from the provisions of this article shall be prohibited from:

  1. Prescribing or administering drugs as defined in this chapter or as a treatment, therapy, or professional service in the practice of his or her profession; or
  2. Using invasive procedures as a treatment, therapy, or professional service in the practice of his or her profession. For purposes of this subdivision, "invasive procedure" means any procedure in which human tissue is cut, altered, or otherwise infiltrated by mechanical or other means. Invasive procedure includes surgery, lasers, ionizing radiation, therapeutic ultrasound, or electroconvulsive therapy.

§ 7709. Hospital privileges.

Nothing herein contained shall be deemed to authorize, grant, or extend hospital privileges to individuals licensed under this article.


§ 7710. Mandatory continuing education.*

  1.  
    1. Each licensed master social worker or licensed clinical social worker required under this article to register triennially with the department to practice in this state, shall comply with the provisions of mandatory continuing education requirements prescribed in subdivision two of this section, except as set forth in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subdivision. Licensed master social workers or licensed clinical social workers who do not satisfy the mandatory continuing education requirements shall not practice until they have met such requirements and they have been issued a registration certificate, except that a licensed master social worker or licensed clinical social worker may practice without having met such requirements if he or she is issued a conditional registration certificate pursuant to subdivision three of this section.
    2. Each licensed master social worker or licensed clinical social worker shall be exempt from the mandatory continuing education requirements for the triennial registration period during which they are first licensed. In accordance with the intent of this section, adjustment to the mandatory continuing education requirement may be granted by the department for reasons of health that are certified by an appropriate health care professional, for extended active duty with the armed forces of the United States, or for other good cause acceptable to the department which may prevent compliance.
    3. A licensed master social worker or a licensed clinical social worker not engaged in practice, as determined by the department, shall be exempt from the mandatory continuing education requirement upon the filing of a statement with the department declaring such status. Any licensee who returns to the practice of social work during the triennial registration period shall notify the department prior to reentering the profession and shall meet such mandatory education requirements as shall be prescribed by regulations of the commissioner.
    4. A licensed clinical social worker who is also licensed and registered to practice as a licensed master social worker in the same triennial registration period, shall not be required to complete more than thirty-six hours of continuing education in the triennial registration period, or one hour per month for a registration period other than thirty-six months.
  2. During each triennial registration period an applicant for registration as a licensed master social worker or licensed clinical social worker shall complete a minimum of thirty-six hours of acceptable formal continuing education. Any licensed master social worker or licensed clinical social worker whose first registration date following the effective date of this section occurs less than three years from such effective date, but on or after January first, two thousand fifteen, shall complete continuing education hours on a prorated basis at the rate of one hour per month for the period beginning January first, two thousand fifteen up to the first registration date thereafter. A licensee who has not satisfied the mandatory continuing education requirement shall not be issued a triennial registration certificate by the department and shall not practice unless and until a conditional registration is issued as provided for in subdivision three of this section. Continuing education hours taken during one triennium may not be transferred to the subsequent triennium.
  3.  
    1. The department, in its discretion, may issue a conditional registration to a licensee who fails to meet the continuing education requirements established in subdivision two of this section but who agrees to make up any deficiencies and complete any additional education which the department may require. The fee for such a conditional registration shall be the same as, and in addition to, the fee for the triennial registration. The duration of such conditional registration shall be determined by the department but shall not exceed one year. Any licensee who is notified of the denial of registration for failure to submit evidence, satisfactory to the department, of required continuing education and who practices without such registration may be subject to disciplinary proceedings pursuant to section sixty-five hundred ten of this title.
    2. For purposes of this section "acceptable formal education" shall mean formal courses of learning which contribute to professional practice in social work and which meet the standards prescribed by regulations of the commissioner. Such formal courses of learning shall include, but not be limited to, collegiate level credit and non-credit courses, professional development programs and technical sessions offered by national, state and local professional associations and other organizations acceptable to the department, and any other organized educational and technical programs acceptable to the department. Continuing education courses must be taken from a provider who has been approved by the department, based upon an application and fee, pursuant to the regulations of the commissioner. The department may, in its discretion and as needed to contribute to the health and welfare of the public, require the completion of continuing education courses in specific subjects to fulfill this mandatory continuing education requirement. Licensed master social workers or licensed clinical social workers shall maintain adequate documentation of completion of acceptable formal continuing education and shall provide such documentation at the request of the department. Failure to provide such documentation upon the request of the department shall be an act of misconduct subject to disciplinary proceedings pursuant to section sixty-five hundred ten of this title.
    3. The mandatory continuing education fee shall be determined by the department. Such fee shall be payable on or before the first day of each triennial registration period, and shall be paid in addition to the triennial registration fee required by paragraph (g) of subdivision one and paragraph (g) of subdivision two of section seventy-seven hundred four of this article.

*NB Effective January 1, 2015


Note: Sunset provision for individuals employed by certain programs

Section 9 of chapter 420 of the Laws of 2002, as amended by section 1 of chapter 433 of the Laws of 2004, as amended by chapter 132 of the laws of 2010 and chapter 57 of the laws of 2013 provides:

  1. Nothing in this act shall prohibit or limit the activities or services on the part of any person in the employ of a program or service operated, regulated, funded, or approved by the department of mental hygiene, the office of children and family services, the office of temporary and disability assistance, the department of corrections and community supervision, the state office for the aging, the department of health, or a local governmental unit as that term is defined in article 41 of the mental hygiene law or a social services district as defined in section 61 of the social services law, provided, however, this section shall not authorize the use of any title authorized pursuant to article 154 of the education law, except that this section shall be deemed repealed on July 1, 2016.
  2. On or before September 1, 2014, each state agency identified in subdivision a of this section that operates, regulates, approves or funds programs that employ individuals to provide services that would otherwise be restricted to individuals licensed or authorized under article 153, 154 or 163 of the education law, shall submit to the commissioner of education, in such form and detail as requested by such commissioner, data in relation to: the number of individuals employed in exempt programs operated, funded, regulated or approved by each state agency on July 1, 2013 who are providing services that would otherwise be restricted to those licensed or authorized under article 153, 154 or 163 of the education law; the occupational title of individuals who on July 1, 2014 are not licensed or otherwise authorized under title VIII of the education law, and who are engaged in: the diagnosis of mental, emotional, behavioral, addictive and developmental disorders and disabilities; patient assessment and evaluation; the provision of psychotherapeutic treatment; the provision of treatment other than psychotherapeutic treatment and/or the development and implementation of assessment-based treatment plans, as defined in section 7701 of the education law or as authorized in articles 153, 154 and 163 of the education law. For purposes of this section, this reporting shall not include individuals that are performing tasks that do not require licensure as identified in subdivision 10 of section 7605, subdivision 7 of section 7706, and subdivision 8 of section 8410 of the education law.
  3. The commissioner of education, after receipt of this data and in consultation with the affected state agencies, not-for-profit providers, professional associations, consumers and other key stakeholders, shall prepare a report that recommends changes in any laws, rules or regulations necessary to ensure appropriate licensure or other authorization of individuals providing services that are within the restricted practice of professions licensed or otherwise authorized under article 153, 154 or 163 of the education law. The commissioner of education shall submit the report to the governor, the speaker of the assembly, the temporary president of the senate, and the chairs of the senate and assembly higher education committees by January 1, 2015. Other state agency commissioners shall be provided an opportunity to include statements or alternative recommendations in such report.
Last Updated: January 13, 2014