Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners Apply for a New License - FAQs

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WHY SHOULD I GET MY LICENSE AS A SOCIAL WORKER IN TEXAS?


Why is licensure required?
What does the licensure law do?
Must I become licensed?
Is anyone exempt from licensure?
When may I start using the titles and initials that indicate my license?
Am I required to use licensure titles?
Why do I have to use license title or initials?
Where should my license be displayed?
May I maintain my license if I am not working as a social worker or not living in Texas?
What happens to my license if I retire?
What if my license is lost or damaged?
Are there other reporting requirements once I become licensed?
What consumer information is available and where should it be displayed?
I am licensed in a different state.  Does Texas have reciprocity with other states?
When I become licensed I would like to work independently, what is required to be recognized for Independent Practice?
How do I get an application to become an approved supervisor?
With all the changes, how am I supposed to indicate that I am licensed?

 


Why is licensure required?
Social workers are the largest professional group providing mental and social health services to the public. Their actions and decisions frequently have permanent, life-changing effects on individuals, families, and groups. Because of this, the Texas Legislature determined that the public should be protected from incompetent and unethical social work practices.

What does the licensure law do?
Chapter 505 of the Occupations Code is the legal recognition of the social work profession in Texas. Provisions for specialty recognition, private practice, and three categories of licensure are included in the law. The law restricts the use of any social work title or designation to those individuals who meet the minimum qualifications and are licensed.

Must I become licensed?
Licensure is required if you identify yourself as a social worker by using titles or initials that create the impression that you are qualified or authorized to practice social work. This includes using any title containing the words "Social Worker" or initials such as LSW, or LMSW. The board may impose a civil or administrative penalty of not les then $250.00 or more then $5000.00 per day for each day an unlicensed individual holds them selves out to be a social worker.

Is anyone exempt from licensure?
You are exempt from licensure if you do not represent yourself to the public - directly or indirectly - as a social worker and do not use any name, title, or designation indicating authorization to practice social work. The only exceptions to this are: (1) related to social work students of a CSWE-accredited school of social work, and (2) faculty/teachers at institutions of higher education, if the person confines the person’s activities to teaching and does not otherwise engage in the practice of social work. These two groups are exempt from requirements for licensure under certain circumstances. 

When may I start using the titles and initials that indicate my license?
Once you have paid your licensing fee and been issued a licensed, you may use your license title or initials.

Am I required to use licensure titles?
You are required to indicate your license status by including your license title or initials in all professional uses of your name. This includes, but is not limited to, letters, business cards, and advertising. 

Why do I have to use license title or initials?
The effectiveness of the licensure program is dependent on public awareness. The use of licensing titles or initials informs the public that the individual has met the minimum qualifications for licensure and is governed by the license regulations of the board.

Where should my license be displayed?
The law requires you to display your license prominently in each place of business. Board rules also require you to display a copy of the code of conduct providing the consumer with complaint information. 

May I maintain my license if I am not working as a social worker or not living in Texas?
Employment in a social work position or residence in Texas is not required to hold an active license. However, inactive status is available if you are not currently employed in social work or are living outside of Texas. Inactive status may be requested in writing any time prior to the expiration of the license, and it requires payment of an inactive status conversion fee of $36. Inactive status requires biennial renewal. While you are on inactive status, no documentation of continuing education is required. If you are on inactive status, you may return to active licensure without penalty or reapplication by putting the request in writing and paying the renewal fee.

What happens to my license if I retire?
Persons 60 or older and disabled persons of any age who are not working as a social worker may apply for an emeritus license. An emeritus license is valid for life as long as you do not return to full- or part-time paid employment. No renewal fees are charged, and no continuing education is required. Submission of renewal Form B IS REQUIRED BIENNIALLY.
When should I notify the board of an address or phone number change?
It is your responsibility to notify the board in writing of any address or other contact information changes within 30 days. You are responsible for all penalty charges incurred due to failure to notify the board of an address change. Be sure to print or type all address changes. Include your name as it appears on your license, your license number, your new address, and home phone number.

What if my license is lost or damaged?
If your license is lost or damaged, you may obtain a duplicate license upon written request. There is a $10 charge for duplicate licenses. You are responsible for the use or misuse of a license issued to you. 

Are there other reporting requirements once I become licensed?
Yes. You are required to comply with all licensing regulations and to notify the board if you have a change in name, employment or change in any of the terms of a board-approved or board-ordered supervision plan. You must report if you are arrested for any reason. You must also inform the board of any filing of criminal charges, investigations, convictions or deferred adjudication, other than a Class C Misdemeanor traffic offense (DWI must be reported); of any settlement or judgment rendered in a civil lawsuit filed against the licensee related to professional social work practice; or of any complaints filed against you or any action by any licensing or certification body or governmental agency related to health or mental health care services.

What consumer information is available and where should it be displayed?
A consumer information sign including the code of conduct and containing information clients need if they wish to make a complaint about a social worker. It is available in English and Spanish. You must display the code of conduct in your place of business at all times. Additional copies of this document can be obtained by downloading through this website. The brochure "A Consumers' Guide to Social Work Licensing" is also available through the board's internet website.

I AM LICENSED IN A DIFFERENT STATE. DOES TEXAS HAVE RECIPROCITY WITH OTHER STATES?

Does Texas have reciprocity with other states?
Texas has no formal reciprocity agreements with other states. If you have been licensed or certified in another state and that license was granted based on an ASWB examination, you may be eligible for a waiver of the examination requirement for licensure in Texas. Complete the Verification of Licensure in another jurisdiction (Form II). You will need to meet all criteria for the category of licensure you are applying for.

WHEN I BECOME LICENSED I WOULD LIKE TO WORK INDEPENDENTLY, WHAT IS REQUIRED TO BE RECOGNIZED FOR INDEPENDENT PRACTICE?

Currently the board defines independent practice as:
Independent Practice - The practice of social work outside the jurisdiction of an organizational setting, after completion of all applicable supervision requirements, in which the social worker assumes responsibility and accountability for the nature and quality of the services provided to clients, pro bono or in exchange for direct payment or third party reimbursement. There are two types of Independent Practice: Clinical and Non-Clinical.

Only a person who is licensed and has been recognized by the board for independent practice is qualified for the independent practice of social work. 
    (1) An LCSW may provide any clinical or non-clinical social work services in either an employment or independent practice setting. 
    (2) An LMSW-AP or LBSW or LMSW recognized for independent practice must restrict his or her independent practice to the provision of non-clinical social work services. 
    (3) A licensee must not engage in any independent practice that falls within the definition of social work practice (relating to definitions) without being licensed and recognized by the board unless the person is licensed in another profession and acting solely within the scope of that license. The person may not use the titles "licensed clinical social worker," "licensed master social worker," "licensed social worker," "licensed baccalaureate social worker," or any other title or initials that states or implies licensure or certification in social work unless one holds the appropriate license or recognition. 
    (4) A licensee who is not recognized for independent practice may not provide direct social work services to clients from a location that she or he owns or leases and that is not owned or leased by an employer or other legal entity with responsibility for the client. This does not preclude in home services such as in home health care or the use of telephones or other electronic media to provide services in an emergency.

How do I get an application to become an approved supervisor?
The application is available on our "Applications/Forms" web page.

With all the changes, how am I supposed to indicate that I am licensed?
Answer: The following explains the license types and recognitions and how to indicate that you hold such.

Making Sure the Public Understands Your License
Some licensees have wondered how best to act in accordance with:
§781.216. Advertising and Announcements.
(c) All advertisements or announcements of a licensee’s professional services, including website pages, social media communications, or telephone directory listings, shall clearly state the social worker’s licensure designation and any specialty recognition, if any.

The public has a right to know what license category a social worker holds. The public does not, nor should it be expected to, understand what the initials that social workers typically use to designate license categories actually mean. Therefore, professional social workers, in addition to displaying their licenses, should also spell out the license designation on professional letterhead, brochures, advertisements, business web sites, and (if feasible) on business cards. Once the category title is clearly spelled out for the public, a social worker may use the initials of his/her license.

License Types:
Three license titles are authorized by law:

Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
• Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
• Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Specialty Recognitions:
Some LMSWs may achieve one of two specialty recognitions:

• Advanced Practitioner (available only to LMSWs)
• Independent non-clinical practice recognition (available to LMSWs without the Advanced Practitioner specialty recognition)
Some LBSWs may achieve a specialty recognition:
• Independent non-clinical practice recognition

Board-Approved Supervisor Status:
People with any of the three license categories (LCSW, LMSW, LBSW), or the LMSW-AP specialty recognition, may also be recognized by the licensing board as a board-approved supervisor. If such an individual wishes, he/she may include on letterhead, web site, brochure, or card a line following the license designation saying “Board-Approved Supervisor”.

Social Work Degree:
It is not necessary to put the initials of one’s BSW or MSW degree in addition to the license title, since an individual, by law, must now hold the appropriate social work degree before it is possible to secure the related license. (For instance, saying “J.J. Jones, LMSW, MSW” is redundant.)

Examples of Appropriate Advertisements:
Here are some examples of appropriate protocol for initially identifying one’s license:

• J.J. Jones, Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW)
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Master Social Worker, recognized for Non-Clinical Independent Practice (LMSW-IPR)
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Master Social Worker-Advanced Practice (MSW-AP)
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker (LBSW)
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker, recognized for Non-Clinical Independent Practice (LBSW-IPR)
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker, recognized for Non-Clinical Independent Practice (LBSW-IPR) and a Board-Approved Supervisor
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Master Social Worker, recognized for Non-Clinical Independent Practice (LMSW-IPR) and a Board-Approved Supervisor
• J.J. Jones, Licensed Master Social Worker-Advanced Practice (MSW-AP) and a Board-Approved Supervisor

Use Caution!

• Remember, it is important for the public to know your license category and to understand any specialty recognition. Social workers frequently have working titles like “Medical Social Worker” or “Therapist”. While these short-hand designations are appropriate in informal communication, they do not substitute for the state-issued license title. Do not combine license titles with working titles.
• Be scrupulous in using the correct title. It is illegal to refer to oneself as “J.J. Jones, Licensed Medical Social Worker”, or “J.J. Jones, Licensed Children’s Social Worker”, since no such license titles are authorized by law.
• Ensure that you use your license designation only when you are practicing social work. For instance, if you hold a license in massage therapy, you should advertise for your massage therapy business under the massage therapy license, not your social work license.

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Last updated June 18, 2013
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    Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners