Private practitioners are social workers who are self-employed and solely responsible for the liability of their practice. Before beginning a private practice, a social worker must demonstrate that they have advanced skills in one or more specialized areas of social work, and can apply them independently. 

The services offered by social workers in private practice vary widely. Depending on their experience and education, they may provide mental health services, support community development, facilitate education and training, complete specialized assessments, and more. 

All Registered Social Workers in Nova Scotia are listed in a searchable online registry. The listing for each private practitioner includes the specialization(s) approved for them by the Board of Examiners. Private practitioners also have the option of including their contact information, to make it easier for members of the public to find them and request their services. 

You may be using the registry to search for a private practitioner if:

  • the benefit plan offered by your employer, union or association includes coverage for social work counselling and therapy
  • you or a family member needs a professional assessment of some kind (mental health, capacity, home/family study, etc.)
  • your organization wants to learn from a practitioner with specialized knowledge (e.g. cultural competence, LGBTQQ2SIA health)
  • you’re searching for a provider in your region who offers the specific services you need 

How to use the searchable online registry

  1. Click the button below to visit the online registry.
  2. Select the parameters for your search:
    • Choose a region from the drop-down list, if applicable. 
    • Select private practitioner as the membership category.
    • For area of private practice specification, the search refers to a private practitioner’s approved area(s) of specialization. This search field works best with a single keyword (e.g. counselling, family, child, assessment).
    • The additional search term field at the bottom of the page can be used to search for a specific social worker using any single piece of public information (e.g. first name, last name, registration number) or to verify their credentials.
  3. Click the View button next to a name in the search results to see whether contact information for a private practice is listed.

Recommended rate

NSCSW has set the recommended fee for private practice masters-level and PhD social workers registered with the College at a minimum rate of $175.00 per session.

Individual practitioners will always retain the autonomy to set and adjust their fees. The recommended rate is provided as a guideline to inform clients of what they can expect to pay for social work services in a private practice setting. This rate is also set to assist third‐party payers (i.e insurers, government, and private business) so they can make informed decisions when adjusting their reimbursement rates for their services. 

This recommended fee is based on a comparison of other mental health professionals in Nova Scotia providing counselling and mental health services. Please note that there may be fee variations taking into consideration: geographical location, practice specialization, nature of the service provided and number of people involved in each session. Fees for specialized services may be higher than the recommended rate.