Clinical social workers are highly educated professionals who help families, individuals, and children work through mental health issues, substance abuse problems, and other difficult life situations. Social workers have years of expertise in counseling and behavioral modification techniques and are trained in human conflict and behavior. Social workers at all levels provide an invaluable service that improves their patients' lives tremendously.
Becoming a licensed clinical social worker requires years of study, advanced degrees, and significant experience training. To maintain a license, social workers need to adhere to certain professional standards of behavior put in place at the state and national levels. Minor mistakes or lapses in judgment can result in a social worker facing a license suspension or revocation. If you are a social worker whose license is in jeopardy, get the help you need from the skilled Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm. Our team is standing by to assist you with disciplinary actions against your social work license, no matter where you are located.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers Must Meet High Standards
Social workers must have a wide set of skills to work with complicated clients. They must be able to communicate effectively with people of different ages, genders, races, and cultures. Social workers also need compassion and problem-solving skills to help their clients with their problems.
A licensed clinical social worker is required to have a master's degree in social work in most states and must pass a difficult exam and complete a significant amount of training. Depending on your location, clinical social workers may be required to take continuing education classes to keep their skills fresh and stay up to date on current laws.
Because social workers help people in difficult situations, they are held to high standards of behavior. Failing to complete mandatory requirements, complaints about patient mistreatment, or misbehavior unrelated to your social work practice can all be reasons for discipline from your state's licensing board. At the Lento Law Firm, our Professional License Defense Team understands you've worked hard for your social work career and need to protect your investment. Retain the Lento Law Firm as soon as you are contacted by your state's licensing board and get skilled legal assistance on your side.
Reasons For Investigations by State Licensing Agencies
Licensed clinical social workers have to keep track of many changing state and federal laws and regulations that govern their profession. Because they work with vulnerable populations like children, abuse victims, and people with mental health issues, social workers must be vigilant about staying up to date on current requirements to avoid disciplinary actions.
Some of the most common ways that licensed clinical social workers get into trouble with their state agencies include:
- Inappropriate or sexual relationships with their clients
- Substance abuse-related work issues or arrests
- Ethical violations or violations of patient confidentiality
- Allegations of fraud or theft when billing patients or government programs
- Providing services outside the scope of their license or without a license
- Complaints of unprofessional, negligent, or unethical behavior
In addition to acts related to the profession, the state's licensing agency or board may take disciplinary actions against a clinical social worker for actions or arrests that reflect poorly on the social work profession. If you are being investigated by your state licensing agency or believe an investigation will start soon, get help now to protect your license and safeguard your rights.
Consequences of Investigations by The State
After an investigation, the state will decide if there is enough evidence of wrongdoing against you to proceed with a hearing. Before the hearing, you will likely be able to work with the state to negotiate a settlement agreement or a consent decree. These options allow you to admit to the allegations in exchange for an agreed punishment.
If you do not sign a consent decree or settlement agreement and instead go to trial, you can defend yourself by presenting evidence in your favor, like testimony from witnesses. The board or committee overseeing the hearing will weigh the evidence presented by both sides and decide on the appropriate disciplinary action.
There are many ways that the state can take disciplinary actions against a licensed clinical social worker. Options range from placing a reprimand in your permanent record, ordering payment of fines, fees, and other costs, ordering treatment for substance abuse issues, and requiring educational courses on topics like billing, coding, ethics, or mandatory reporting. At the more extreme end of the disciplinary spectrum, the state's licensing board or agency can also put a social worker on probation, suspend a social worker's license, ask for voluntary surrender of the social worker's license, or revoke their license entirely.
If the state takes negative action against you, you will likely have the right to appeal if you do so within the specified time. At the Lento Law Firm, our social work license defense team can help you protect your license and your livelihood during an investigation by your state. We can guide you through the process and assist you in filing an appeal after a negative decision.
License Defense and Legal Help for Social Workers
If you are being investigated for misconduct by your state's licensing board, you have the right to defend yourself. You can respond to inquiries from the board, compile evidence in your defense, speak to witnesses, and negotiate a settlement agreement or consent order. An investigation and hearing into your social work license is a legal process against you, so you have many rights that should be protected.
Never assume that the state licensing board is on your side or will see things your way. The board's interest is not in helping you—it is in protecting the public from your actions. Seemingly minor offenses can result in serious disciplinary measures if your state board believes that you are a danger to your clients.
The social worker disciplinary process is too complicated and too important to handle without professional help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the nationwide team at the Lento Law Firm has helped social workers across the country navigate the disciplinary process, present their best case, and negotiate a resolution that works for all parties. If you are dealing with an investigation or facing discipline against your clinical social worker license, call 888-535-3686 or contact us online and retain the Lento Law Firm today.