Virginia Advocacy Efforts Regarding Licensure


NASW VA is committed to continual advocacy on issues affecting the Virginia Practice of Social Work, supporting the Board of Social Work, Schools of Social Work and helping to educate professionals on standards of practice within the Commonwealth.


An Overview

NASW VA is in an ongoing collaboration with statewide mental health leaders and the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP), all in an effort to bring resolution to outstanding issues related to your licensure applications. There had been changes in the licensure regulations as of November 2008, and subsequent changes in the application process that generated challenges for all involved. Since that time, many issues have been resolved. However, other issues remain and are in discussion, including difficulties with out of state LCSW’s attempting to move here and obtain VA licensure by endorsement, as well as challenges complying with educational requirements, and concerns about the overall application process itself.


Meeting with Dr. Reynolds-Cane: Director of the Department of Health Profession

This summer, NASW VA convened a workgroup with behavioral health stakeholder, including the Virginia CSWE Schools of Social Work, leadership from the Clinical Society of Social Work, NASW National Legal Counsel and more.  NASW VA also included colleagues from other behavioral health care arenas, including prominent leadership from Virginia’s Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT’s) and Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC’s), groups who were also experiencing difficulties with the licensure process.  Common problems were identified across the mental health professionals, such as lengthy processing times, lack of clarity around the review process and reviewer qualifications, as well as issues around definition of clinical work.  Social work further presented with concerns regarding potentially conflicting education requirements.

The chapter has continued to meet and work with Dept of Health Professionals Leadership, including Director Dr. Diane Reynolds Cane and Catherine Chappell, the Executive Director of the Behavioral Health Professionals Board.


Chapter Concerns


A major concern of NASW is the social workers whom are new to the state of Virginia, in search of employment as a clinical practitioner. The license by endorsement issue continues to be an obstacle for some for a myriad of reasons, most stemming from the change in regulations requiring the licensure and registration of supervisors (2008), others from an unclear definition of “active practice” and a stringent requirement that all applicants for endorsement must have been practicing for three out of the last five years before application.  However, regulation that would help to alleviate this issue had already been crafted by the Board of Social Work and forwarded to the Governor’s office. The regulation was recently signed and is in final public comment period until November.


Other concerns discussed included definition of clinical social work. NASW VA expressed concern that prevention and early intervention services were not listed in the definition of clinical social work in Guidance Document #140-10; NASW VA expressed concern that work should be recognized as clinical per regulation definition.  NASW VA also expressed concern that clinical settings that demonstrated diverse therapeutic strategies, such as brief therapy, bereavement work, existential work, crisis therapy, and others, were vulnerable in the application process; members  had expressed concern that preference appeared to be given to long-term, traditional psychodynamic work. 



Where We Stand


Please note that according to Director Chappell, all applicants are reviewed on a case by case basis, regardless of setting, and, subsequently, differing therapeutic modalities are considered, provided the applicant can prove that he or she meets requirements of providing diagnostic and psychotherapeutic work as defined in the regulations.


1. DHP agreed to amend Guidance Document #140-10 to list the full definition of clinical social work services to include all relevant aspects, including prevention and early intervention services, per definition (applicants still need to document additional ability and experience diagnosing and providing psychotherapy as core competencies as required per regulations). 

2. DHP expressed willingness to re-look at individual cases as brought forward by NASW VA in cases of possible discrepancies.

3. Curriculum issues related to criteria for licensing are underway

4. Efforts by this workgroup and NASW VA resulted in Governor McDonnell recently signing the legislation that would ease supervision requirements for out of state applicants.



Where We Go From Here


• NASW VA continues to meet with both Director Catherine Chappell and Dr. Reynolds-Kane to operationalize collaborative work efforts and assist in finding solutions to the issues for our professionals

• Ongoing dialog with the Virginia Board of Social Work