Mandatory Licensing


Are you practicing illegally? If you are practicing clinical social work without a license you are! The chapter staff periodically receives calls from members who wrongly believe that licensing is only for private practitioners or if you are billing third party payers. In fact licensing is mandatory for almost all social workers that are practicing clinical social work.

Under the state’s licensing laws social workers who are practicing clinical social work must be licensed as either a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).  

The only exceptions to the law are:

1. a social work student practicing as part of an educational internship under supervision

2. a certified school social worker practicing clinical social work within their capacity as a school social worker

3. a social work designee, social worker or social work consultant in a nursing home or rest home practicing in accordance with state and federal laws governing those duties

4. certain state employees who were practicing before October 1, 1996 can continue practicing within the responsibilities of their job

5. a person licensed or certified by the State of Connecticut in another field of practice and who is practicing under the scope of practice of that license or certification.

Whether you are seeking third party payment or not does not matter. Nor does it matter that you are practicing in an agency setting and not in private practice. Even if you have a license from another state you still must get licensed in Connecticut to practice clinical social work within the state of Connecticut If you are practicing clinical social work as defined below you come under Connecticut’s mandatory licensing laws.

Clinical social work is defined as: “the application, by persons trained in social work, of established principles of psychosocial development, behavior, psychopathology, unconscious motivation, interpersonal relationships and environmental stress to the evaluation, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of biopsychosocial dysfunction, disability and impairment, including mental, emotional, behavioral, developmental and addictive disorders, of individuals, couples, families or groups. Clinical social work includes, but is not limited to, counseling, psychotherapy, behavior modification and mental health consultation”.

So what happens if you choose to ignore the licensing mandate? You risk being reported to the State Department of Public Health for practicing illegally. If that happens the State normally fines you, with the fine increasing for each year that you practiced illegally, and they will order you to cease and desist practicing until you have attained the license. You also put yourself at significant liability if a client files a law suit against you and you are found to be practicing without a license.

For more information on the eligibility requirements for the clinical social work licenses (LMSW & LCSW) and other state laws governing practice see the articles under the “Professional Information” tab on the chapter’s home page  or contact the CT Chapter office at  or call (860) 257-8066.