How does the Board distinguish counseling from therapy?
Counseling is a method to assist clients in learning how to solve problems and make decisions about personal, health, social, educational, vocational, financial, and other interpersonal concerns. Counseling is an educational process which involves “giving advice, delineating alternatives, helping articulate goals, and providing needed information.” Social Work Dictionary (4th ed. 1999).
Psychosocial therapy is a specialized, formal interaction between a social worker and a client in which a therapeutic relationship is established to assist the client in overcoming or abating specific emotional, mental, or social problems and achieving specific goals for well being. Therapy is a planned, structured program based on a diagnosis and is directed to accomplish measurable goals and objectives specified in the client’s individual treatment plan.
Iowa law provides that master and independent level social workers may provide psychosocial therapy services. Bachelor level social workers may not provide therapy, but they may provide counseling services.
Can an LBSW provide bachelor level social work services (assessment, intervention, counseling) as a solo private practitioner?
Yes. An LBSW may provide bachelor level social work services as a self-employed solo private practitioner. However, an LBSW who provides master level services, including therapy, in any setting may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Social Work Examiners for practicing outside the scope of the license.
Can an LMSW provide master level social work services (diagnosis, psychosocial therapy, and treatment) as a solo private practitioner or as a member of a partnership?
No. A social worker must be licensed as an LISW in order to provide master level social work services as a solo private practitioner. Hence, a social worker who is self employed providing master level social work services must be licensed as an LISW. An LMSW who practices as a solo private practitioner may be subject to disciplinary action by the Board of Social Work Examiners for practicing outside the scope of the license.