Private Practice

Private Practice

In addition to the general provisions of the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, Social Workers in private practice are guided by the following specific ethical responsibilities.

7.1.1. Social Workers in private practice shall maintain adequate malpractice and liability insurance.

7.2.1. Social Workers shall not solicit clients for their private practice from their colleagues or place of work unless they do it in accordance with established place of work guidelines regarding such referrals. 1

7.2.2. Social Workers shall neither accept nor give a commission, rebate, fee split or other form of remuneration for the referral of a client.

7.3.1. Social Workers who enter into a fee for service contract with a client shall:

  • Disclose at the outset of the relationship, the fee schedule for social work services including their expectations and practices with respect to cancellations and unpaid bills.
  • Record the payment in the client’s file and provide the amount in writing to the client, the client’s legal guardian, or other authorized representative.
  • Charge only for the reasonable hours of client services, research, consultation and administrative work on behalf of a given client. 2

7.3.2. Social Workers shall not accept goods or services from the client or a third party in exchange for the Social Worker’s services, except when such arrangement is initiated by the client and is accepted practice in the Social Worker’s community or within the client’s culture. It is the responsibility of the Social Worker to assume the full burden of demonstrating that this arrangement will not be detrimental or exploitative to the client or the professional relationship.

7.4.1. Social Workers in private practice shall adhere to the standards contained in 2.5 (Practices for Termination of Services and Continuity of Care) and 1.1 (Confidentiality). 3

7.5.1. The private practitioner shall arrange the provision of social work services so that confidential information may not be heard or seen by others. 4

7.5.2. Social Workers shall choose a practice location being mindful of safety and security.

7.6.1. In addition to Standard 2, Social Workers in private practice shall provide evidence of their status as an approved private practitioner.

7.6.2. Social Workers shall be able to provide clients with information on the Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice and the complaints procedure.


7.7.1. The records are the responsibility of the private practitioner and shall be kept for a reasonable amount of time, being mindful of no limitation on the time for complaints. (See Section 9.3 of this document).

7.7.2. Social Workers in private practice shall also adhere Standard 9 of this document. 5

7.8.1. Social Workers in private practice shall adhere to the following guidelines: The business card, pamphlet, website or any other advertising shall include name, professional academics, address, website (if any) and contact numbers such as telephone, fax, and e-mail.

7.9.1. Social Workers offering individual or group supervision to other Social Workers in private practice shall themselves:

  • Be registered as a private practitioner.
  • Have a minimum of seven years’ experience, three of which shall be in the area of practice in which they are offering supervision and three of which shall be in the area of social work supervision, consultation, training, education and/or field instruction.

7.9.2. Social Workers in private practice shall adhere to the supervision requirements specified in the NSCSW Regulations.

  1. For example, in hard to serve areas employers may need employees who also have a private practice to provide follow up services.
  2. Social Workers bill only for services which have been provided and services which are necessary. A Social Worker in private practice may properly make a social work services available by charging a reduced fee or no fee at all to a client(s) who would have difficulty in paying the fee.
  3. It is recognized that Standard 2.5 impacts Social Workers in private practice who contract with EAP or other third party payers in that service contracts may be time limited and may impose a termination to service before the agreed upon goals have been met.
  4. Examples of guarding confidentiality may include not leaving records out in a home office setting, and having a separate phone line and messaging system.
  5. Private practitioners who contract with Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) need to be mindful of the Providers’ ethics, their requirements for record keeping or the number of times a client may be seen. Social Workers in private practice should be mindful of the EAP Providers’ policy on the retention of records, and access to records should there be a complaint laid against the private practitioner.