Starting a Private
many years of social work experience do I need to start a private
a minimum of two years of postmaster's experience in a supervised
a social work license required to begin a private practice?
See Frequently Asked Questions
about Social Work Licensing.
I continue clinical supervision?
Depending on your license there are requirements for
Supervision. Under the new licensing law ONLY LCSW's licensed
psychologists and psychiatrists can provide clinical supervision.
If you are an LMSW doing clinical work, you must be supervised by
an LCSW, licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.
much malpractice insurance should I obtain?
The minimum amount of coverage available from the NASW
Insurance Trust is $1 million per lawsuit with $1 million maximum
for the policy year regardless of the number of suits. The
maximum availability is $2million per $4 million. Because
private practitioners may operate in what may be considered relatively
high-risk situations, it is generally recommended that clinical
social workers purchase $2 million per $2 million of malpractice
insurance. Coverage should be maintained continuously to avoid
gaps in time that would not be covered.
NASW have guidelines for clinical social workers in private practice?
YES. NASW has published NASW Guidelines on the Private
Practice of Social Work, which may be purchased by calling the
NASW distribution center at 1-800-227-3590.
can I obtain a tax ID number?
If you are a sole proprietor or partner, your tax ID
number may be your social security number. If you employ one
or more persons, you may obtain an employer tax ID number from the
federal government by completing IRS form SS-4. Forms may
be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service or your state government.
fees should I charge?
Fees vary and are influenced by several factors, including
geographical location, fees of other mental health professionals
who provide psychotherapy services in the area, and reasonable and
customary fees that insurance companies set. There is no legal
or professional requirement regarding the amount to be charged.
Conduct a survey of psychotherapy fees in your area, and decide
on an amount that is fair and reasonable for your practice.
my private practice be incorporated?
Discuss your business plans with a financial or business
consultant to decide if incorporation is advantageous for you.
Many clinical social workers begin a private practice and decide
to incorporate later.
Can I start
a Business with other mental health professionals other than Licensed
Clinical Social Workers?
No. New York State Law requires that an LCSW can only
open a practice with other LCSW's. Whether it is a limited
liability company, corporation or partnership the owners of the
practice can only be LCSWs. Any practice that was formed before
June 30, 2004 and has a practice with other mental health professionals
has until July 1, 2014 to dissolve the practice. (Limited
Liavility Company Law Sections 1203 (a). 12-7 (b) and 1301 (a) and;
Partnership Law Sections 121-1500 (q) and 121-1502 (q)).
is the best way to seek referrals?
Marketing is one excellent way to obtain referrals.
Consider advertising through a variety of resources such as the
telephone yellow pages, local newspapers, and magazines. Develop
brochures and flyers, and mail to businesses, hospitals, schools,
churches, nursing homes, and so forth, and invest in a Web site.
List your name in the NASW Register of Clinical Social Workers,
which is a reference for referral services to the general public,
agencies, and third-party payers.
can I become a Medicare provider?
Contact the Medicare carrier in your state and request
an application to become a Medicare provider as a clinical social
can I become a managed care provider?
Write or call the managed care company that you would
lik to work with and requrest an application form to become a member
of its provider network as a clinical social worker. In addition,
NASW provides to members a free listing of managed care companies
with provider panels for clinical social workers.
books would I find helpful to read about starting a private practice?
NASW Press publishes several books for clinical social workers that
may be helpful in starting a private practice. Call the NASW
Distribution Center, 1-800-227-3590, to order them.
Practice: A guide for Managing Malpractice Risk, Mary
Kay Houston-Vega and Elane M. Nuehring with Elisabeth R. Daguio.
Care Resource Guide for Social Workers Who Are Private Practitioners,
Vivian H. Jackson, Editor
for Therapists: A Handbook for Success in Managed Care,
Jeri Davis, Editor
Work in Private Practice, 2nd Edition, Robert L. Barker
is the NASW Private Practice Section and How may I join?
The NASW Private Practice Section, formed in 1996, provides
clinical social workers in private practice with networking, education,
advocacy, and business tools needed to succeed in independent practice.
Section membership is open to all NASW members who are clinically
oriented and are full or part-time practitioners in solo or group
settings. It is also open to others interested in promoting
private practice. For an application for membership call 1-800-638-8799,
have additional questions about starting a private practice, contact
Mirean Coleman, Senior Staff Associate for Clinical Social Work,
Division of Professional Development and Advocacy, at 1-800-638-8799,