The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 26: Professions and Occupations

Chapter 61: CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS

§ 3201. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Clinical social work" is defined as providing a service, for a consideration, which is primarily drawn from the academic discipline of social work theory, in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve a more adequate, satisfying, and productive psychosocial adjustment. The application of social work principles and methods includes, but is not restricted to assessment, diagnosis, prevention, and amelioration of adjustment problems and emotional and mental disorders of individuals, families, and groups. The scope of practice for licensed clinical social workers includes the provision of psychotherapy.

(2) "Clinical social worker" means a person who practices clinical social work in some or all of its aspects and is licensed to practice clinical social work in this state.

(3) "Disciplinary action" or "disciplinary cases" includes any action taken by the secretary of state or an administrative law officer established by 3 V.S.A. § 129(j) against a licensed clinical social worker or applicant premised on a finding of unprofessional conduct by the licensed clinical social worker or applicant. It includes all sanctions of any kind, refusal to grant or renew a license, suspension or revocation of a license, issuing warnings, and other similar sanctions.

(4) "Psychotherapy" means the provision of treatment, diagnosis, evaluation, or counseling services to individuals or groups, for a consideration, for the purpose of alleviating mental disorders. "Psychotherapy" involves the application of therapeutic techniques to understand unconscious or conscious motivation, resolve emotional, relationship or attitudinal conflicts, or modify behavior which interferes with effective emotional, social, or mental functioning. "Psychotherapy" follows a systematic procedure of psychotherapeutic intervention which takes place on a regular basis over a period of time, or, in the case of evaluation and brief psychotherapies, in a single or limited number of interventions. If a person is employed by or under contract with the agency of human services, this definition does not apply to persons with less than a master's degree, to persons providing life skills training or instruction, such as learning to make friends, to handle social situations, to do laundry, and to develop community awareness, or interactions of employees or contracted individuals with clients whose job description or contract specifications do not specifically mention "psychotherapy" as a job responsibility or duty. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1993, No. 98, § 20; 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1997, No. 40, § 49; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 19; 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 53.)

§ 3202. Prohibition, offenses

(a) No person shall practice or attempt to practice clinical social work, nor shall any person use in connection with the person's name any letters, words, or insignia indicating or implying that the person is a clinical social worker unless the person is licensed in accordance with this chapter.

(b) A person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A. § 127(c). (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1993, No. 98, § 21; 2007, No. 29, § 41.)

§ 3203. Director of the office of professional regulation; duties

(a) The director of professional regulation shall:

(1) explain appeal procedures to licensed clinical social workers and applicants and complaint procedures to the public;

(2) administer fees collected under this chapter;

(3) provide general information to applicants for licensure as clinical social workers;

(4) receive applications for licensing, license applicants qualified under this chapter, or renew, revoke, reinstate, and condition licensing as ordered by an administrative law officer.

(b) The director, with the advice of two licensed clinical social workers appointed under section 3204 of this title, may adopt rules necessary to enable the director to perform his or her duties under subsection (a) of this section. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.) § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 73; 1993, No. 98, § 22; 1997, No. 40, § 49(a); 2005, No. 27, § 91.)

§ 3204. Advisor appointees

(a) The secretary of state shall appoint two licensed clinical social workers to serve as advisors in matters relating to licensed clinical social workers. They shall be appointed as set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 129b and shall serve at the pleasure of the secretary. One of the initial appointments may be for less than a full term.

(b) Appointees shall not have less than three years' experience as a clinical social worker certified or licensed under this chapter during the period immediately preceding appointment and shall be actively engaged in the practice of clinical social work in Vermont during incumbency.

(c) The office of professional regulation shall refer complaints and disciplinary matters to an administrative law officer established under 3 V.S.A. § 129(j).

(d) The director shall seek the advice of the clinical social workers appointed under this section in carrying out the provisions of this chapter. Such members shall be entitled to compensation and expenses as provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1010 for attendance at any meeting called by the director for this purpose. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 74; 1993, No. 98, §§ 23, 24; 1997, No. 40, § 49(a); 2007, No. 29, § 42.)

§ 3205. Eligibility

To be eligible for licensing as a clinical social worker an applicant must have:

(1) received a master's degree or doctorate from an accredited social work education program;

(2) [Deleted.]

(3) completed 3,000 hours of supervised practice of clinical social work as defined by rule under the supervision of a licensed physician or a licensed osteopathic physician who has completed a residency in psychiatry, a licensed psychologist, a licensed clinical mental health counselor, a person licensed or certified under this chapter, or a person licensed or certified in another state or Canada in one of these professions or their substantial equivalent. Persons engaged in post masters supervised practice in Vermont shall be entered on the roster of nonlicensed, noncertified psychotherapists;

(4) submitted the names and addresses of three persons who can attest to the applicant's professional competence. Such person shall be a licensed physician or a licensed osteopathic physician who has completed a residency in psychiatry, a licensed psychologist, a licensed clinical mental health counselor, a person licensed or certified under this chapter, or a person licensed in another state or Canada in one of these professions; and

(5) passed an examination to the satisfaction of the director of the office of professional regulation. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1993, No. 98, § 25; 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 5a; 1997, No. 40, § 35; 2005, No. 148 (Adj. Sess.), § 35; 2011, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 54.)

§ 3206. Application

A person who desires to be licensed as a clinical social worker shall apply to the secretary in writing on a form furnished by the secretary, accompanied by payment of the specified fee. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1993, No. 98, § 26.)

§ 3207. Examination

(a) The director of professional regulation shall conduct examinations under this chapter at least once a year at a time and place designated by it, provided, however, that examinations need not be conducted at times when there are no applicants requesting to be examined. Examinations shall be written. Each applicant shall be designated by a number so that his or her name is not disclosed to the director until the examination has been graded. Examinations shall include questions in such theoretical and applied fields as the director deems most suitable to test an applicant's knowledge and competence to engage in the practice of clinical social work. The director of professional regulation, with the advice of the clinical social workers appointed under section 3204 of this title, shall establish by rule fixed criteria for passing an examination that shall apply to all persons taking the examination.

(b) Examinations administered by the director and the procedures of administration shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to ensure that all applicants are granted a license if they demonstrate that they possess the minimal occupational qualifications which are consistent with the public health, safety, and welfare. They shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of licenses issued.

(c) The director of the office of professional regulation may contract with clinical social workers or with independent testing services for the preparation and administration of the exam. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 4(d), 75; 1993, No. 98, § 27.)

§ 3208. Renewals

(a) Licenses shall be renewed every two years upon payment of the required fee.

(b) An application for renewal of a license which has lapsed shall be accompanied by the renewal fee in addition to the reinstatement fee. A person shall not be required to pay renewal fees for the years during which the license was lapsed.

(c) The director may, after notice and an opportunity for hearing, revoke a person's right to renew his or her license if such license has lapsed for five years.

(d) As a condition of renewal, a licensee shall complete continuing education, approved by the director by rule, during the preceding two-year period. For purposes of this subsection, the director may require, by rule, not more than 20 hours of approved continuing social work education as a condition of renewal. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1993, No. 98, § 28; 1999, No. 52, § 28.)

§ 3209. Licensing without examination

The director of the office of professional regulation may, upon payment of the required fee, grant a license without examination if the applicant:

(1) is licensed to practice clinical social work in another state; and

(2) the requirements for licensing in that state are, in the judgment of the director of the office of professional regulation, essentially equivalent to the requirements of this chapter. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(d); 1993, No. 98, § 29.)

§ 3210. Unprofessional conduct

(a) The following conduct and the conduct set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 129a by a licensed social worker constitutes unprofessional conduct. When that conduct is by an applicant or a person who later becomes an applicant, it may constitute grounds for denial of a license:

(1) failing to use a correct title in professional activity;

(2) conduct which evidences unfitness to practice clinical social work;

(3) engaging in any sexual conduct with a client, or with the immediate family member of a client, with whom the licensee has had a professional relationship within the previous two years;

(4) harassing, intimidating, or abusing a client or patient;

(5) practicing outside or beyond a clinical social worker's area of training, experience, or competence without appropriate supervision;

(6) engaging in conflicts of interest that interfere with the exercise of the clinical social worker's professional discretion and impartial judgment;

(7) failing to inform a client when a real or potential conflict of interest arises and to take reasonable steps to resolve the issue in a manner that makes the client's interest primary and protects the client's interest to the greatest extent possible;

(8) taking unfair advantage of any professional relationship or exploiting others to further the clinical social worker's personal, religious, political, or business interests;

(9) engaging in dual or multiple relationships with a client or former client in which there is a risk of exploitation or potential harm to the client;

(10) failing to take steps to protect a client and to set clear, appropriate, and culturally sensitive boundaries, in instances where dual or multiple relationships are unavoidable;

(11) failing to clarify with all parties which individuals will be considered clients and the nature of the clinical social worker's professional obligations to the various individuals who are receiving services, when a clinical social worker provides services to two or more people who have a spousal, familial ,or other relationship with each other;

(12) failing to clarify the clinical social worker's role with the parties involved and to take appropriate action to minimize any conflicts of interest, when the clinical social worker anticipates a conflict of interest among the individuals receiving services or anticipates having to perform in conflicting roles such as testifying in a child custody dispute or divorce proceedings involving clients.

(b) After hearing, and upon a finding of unprofessional conduct, an administrative hearing officer may take disciplinary action against a licensed clinical social worker or applicant. (Added 1985, No. 253 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1989, No. 250 (Adj. Sess.), § 4(b); 1993, No. 98, § 30; 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1997, No. 40, § 36; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 52; 1999, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 29.)

§ 3211. Repealed. 1997, No. 59, § 65(3), eff. June 30, 1997.

§ 3212. Exemptions

(a) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to persons while engaged in the course of their customary duties as clergy, licensed physicians, nurses, osteopaths, optometrists, dentists, lawyers, psychologists, mental health counselors, certified marriage and family therapists and psychoanalysts, rostered psychotherapists, or licensed educators when performing their duties consistent with the accepted standards of their respective professions; provided, however, that they do not describe themselves to the public by any other title or description stating or implying that they are clinical social workers or are licensed to practice clinical social work.

(b) The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to persons while engaged in the course of their customary duties:

(1) In the practice of a religious ministry.

(2) In employment or rehabilitation counseling.

(3) As an employee of or under contract with the agency of human services, provided the person does not practice psychotherapy as defined in section 3201 of this title.

(4) As a mediator.

(5) In an official evaluation for court purposes.

(6) As a member of a self-help group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, peer counseling, or domestic violence groups, whether or not the person is serving for a consideration.

(7) As a respite caregiver, foster care worker or hospice worker.

(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) of this section, the provisions of this chapter shall apply to any person licensed as a clinical social worker under this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 98, § 32; amended 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 7; 1995, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 20.)

§ 3212a. Exceptions

(a) This chapter shall not apply to a person engaged or acting:

(1) In the discharge of his or her duties as a student of clinical social work or preparing for the practice of clinical social work provided that the person's title indicates his or her training status and that the preparation occurs under the supervision of a licensed practicing clinical social worker in recognized training institutions or facilities or in a training program approved by the office of professional regulation.

(2) In clinical training for licensure as a psychologist or clinical mental health counselor or for certification as a marriage and family therapist or a psychoanalyst provided that the person's title indicates his or her training status and that the person does not identify him or herself as a clinical social worker.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, this chapter shall apply to any person licensed as a clinical social worker under this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 7a; amended 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 21.)

§ 3213. Disclosure of information

The office of professional regulation, in consultation with the advisor appointees, shall adopt rules requiring licensed clinical social workers to disclose to each client the licensed clinical social worker's professional qualifications and experience, those actions that constitute unprofessional conduct, the method for filing a complaint or making a consumer inquiry, and provisions relating to the manner in which the information shall be displayed and signed by both the clinical social worker and the client. The rules may include provisions for applying or modifying these requirements in cases involving institutionalized clients, minors, and adults under the supervision of a guardian. (Added 1993, No. 222 (Adj. Sess.), § 8.)