Idaho requires licensing for social work practice, with only limited exemptions. In order to achieve licensure, a person will need to demonstrate good character, complete an approved program at the bachelor’s or graduate level, pass an examination, and meet any other requirements that are specific to the level sought. Idaho recognizes three levels of social worker: Baccalaureate Social Worker, Master’s Social Worker, and Clinical Social Worker. The Clinical Social Worker credential requires post-graduate clinical experience under supervision.
State code lists work activities that are appropriate for professionals with different types of credentialing. The BSW scope includes case management, supportive counseling, community organization, and program or policy administration, among others. The MSW summary notes a few additional roles, including treatment planning and research. For some, the MSW is a transitional license. Social workers who hold this license may perform psychotherapy when working under a supervision plan. Clinical social workers have psychotherapy within their scope of practice; they may practice psychotherapy with individuals, groups, or anything in between. Moreover, they can practice privately and independently.
Baccalaureate and master’s level social workers can pursue independent credentialing. This allows them to act more or less autonomously when carrying out duties within their scope of practice. This is not the same as private practice; only LCSWs go into private practice. State administrative code outlines what constitutes independent practice and private practice in Idaho. Even this is not the same from one state to another.
Social Work Education and Experience Requirements
Degree programs are considered approved if they are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and are housed within institutions that are accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (or other comparable accrediting agencies). In order to qualify a person for licensure at the LMSW level or higher, a program must be at the graduate level. (See: Master’s of Social Work Programs in Idaho)
A candidate will take the licensing examination appropriate to his or her level of licensure: bachelors, masters, or clinical. All levels are under the banner of the Association of Social Work Boards. After receiving authorization, the candidate will register with the ASWB. Ultimately, the candidate will be able to schedule an exam at a convenient time; he or she can choose from many testing centers around the nation. Fees range from $230 to $260.
Supervision Requirements for Licensed Clinical Social Workers
The prospective LCSW will need to accrue at least 3,000 post-master hours. This requirement is normally completed in a period of two to five years. Extensions are approved only for cause. The supervisee will need, as part of the total requirement, at least 1,750 hours of direct client contact pertaining to clinical social work.
Clinical supervision is distinct from administrative supervision. Clinical supervision includes consultation and teaching. The supervisee is to have a minimum of 100 face-to-face supervision hours over the course of the experience period. At least half of the supervision is to be provided by an LCSW. The remaining supervision could be provided by a clinical counselor, marriage and family therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
Social workers, counselors, and marriage and family therapists who provide supervision in Idaho are to be registered in this capacity. State code mandates supervisory training and also sets a minimum amount of post-LCSW experience. A list of registered supervisors can be found on the website of the Bureau of Occupational Licenses (https://dopl.idaho.gov/DOPLPortal/).
Prospective LCSWs who receive some of their supervision in groups of larger than two will require more session hours. The Board has provided a formula to use to calculate the requirement. No more than half of the total supervision requirement, though, is to be met through group supervision.
Social workers who are seeking clinical licensure must submit a plan for approval before beginning supervision. They will provide information about the work setting and client populations, their role, and the goals they will be working toward with their supervisor.
The licensing agency is allowed to consider supervision provided by clinical social workers, clinical counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists in other states if there was sufficient parity with Idaho standards.
Supervision Requirements for Independent Practice at the BSW or MSW Level
A Bachelor Social Worker or Master Social Worker who seeks authorization as an independent practitioner will also need at least 3,000 hours of practice accrued over a period of two to five years. The supervisor must be a social worker who is authorized as an independent practitioner. The level of licensure must be at at least the level of licensure of the supervisee – in other words, a BSW might be supervised by an independent BSW.
Here, too, the supervision plan is to be Board-approved.
Social Work License by Endorsement
Idaho can extend endorsement to social workers who are licensed at a comparable level in other states and who are in good status and have passed an appropriate examination. Among the requirements: that the social worker hasn’t been disciplined in the preceding five year period.
Idaho Social Work License Application
Prospective Idaho social workers may request applications or download them from the board website of the Bureau of Occupational Licenses (https://ibol.idaho.gov/IBOL/BoardAdditional.aspx?Bureau=SWO&BureauLinkID=930). They are to be notarized.
The Board will require an official transcript; this is to be sent from the issuing institution after the degree has posted. However, some applicants will want to expedite the process by applying beforehand and asking their school to provide confirmation that they are on track for graduation; this form can be found in the application package.
The applicant is to provide one reference; forms are included.
Fees are slightly higher for endorsement applicants ($90 vs $70).
Idaho social workers are under the jurisdiction of the Idaho Board of Social Work Examiners (https://ibol.idaho.gov/IBOL/BoardAdditional.aspx?Bureau=SWO&BureauLinkID=100). The licensing agency can be reached at ‘swo at ibol.idaho.gov’.
Requirements are subject to change. A link to proposed laws and rules is prominently displayed on the Board website.