Defending or Responding to Allegations before the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board (Social Work Board)

No Licensed Clinical Social Worker ever wants to get notice of a complaint from the Social Work Board. If you received such a notice from the Board, you may be uncertain about what to do next, what the procedures are, and what the results may be. You may also be trying to decide whether you need to retain an attorney or firm to represent or assist you in responding to the complaint.

Our firm represents applicants seeking a license and licensees in responding to the Board and defending against allegations of misconduct. Representation at the inquiry stage is significantly less expensive than in a formal evidentiary public hearing; therefore, the investment in protecting your certificate or license and livelihood generally is more cost-effective in the earlier stages. Our firm’s best opportunity to assist you in obtaining a favorable or acceptable outcome is in these early stages. We have a good working relationship with counsel for the Board and may be able to negotiate an acceptable resolution without the need for a formal hearing.

To engage in clinical social work, you must obtain a license as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). The Board also offers the following voluntary certifications for non-clinical work: Certified Social Worker (CSW), Certified Master Social Worker (CMSW) and

Certified Social Work Manager (CSWM). Information about the qualifications and requirements for a LCSW and the three other voluntary certifications are set forth on the Social Work Board’s website at We will refer to all these categories of licenses or certifications collectively herein as “Social Worker(s)” or “licensee(s).”

In the sections below, we attempt to address some of the questions you may have and explain the general process, procedures, and possible results.

NC Social Work Board – Composition and Authority

As background, the North Carolina Social Work Certification and Licensure Board was created by the N.C. legislature. The Board consists of seven members appointed by the Governor. At least two members of the Board will be Certified Social Workers or Certified Master Social Workers, three members will be Licensed Clinical Social Workers, and two members will be from the public. The Board must also be comprised of at least one member who is primarily engaged in social work education, at least one member primarily engaged in social work in the public sector, and at least one member primarily engaged in social work in the private sector.

The Board has the power to adopt and enforce regulations and laws pertaining to social work certification and licensure including the power to adopt ethical and disciplinary standards. The Board is also authorized to receive and investigate complaints against individuals who are certified or licensed by the Board and allegations of violations of the Social Work Certification and Licensure Act and Rules governing social work practice in North Carolina.

Regarding certificate holders and licensees, the Board may deny, suspend, or revoke an application, certificate, or license; issue a reprimand or censure; order probation; require supervisions; or otherwise limit the practice of a social worker upon proof that the applicant, certificate holder, or licensee has engaged in prohibited actions.

Informal Proceedings