Thanksgiving reminds us of how connected we all are. We've walked hand in hand through the last two years and have provided unprecedented support to the community together. We thank you for your commitment to the profession and for supporting GWSCSW's mission.
The GWSCSW Board extends our heartfelt wishes to you and your family for a safe, meaningful, and happy holiday season.
We are in the midst of our annual membership drive and I have been thinking about the benefits and value of membership. Even though we are almost 1000 members strong, we operate on a very lean budget and manage to accomplish a lot. We work hard behind the scenes to keep our profession and our clinicians viable and informed. So much of what we do is fueled by the wonderful, caring volunteers who comprise our Board of Directors and various committees. We are still meeting virtually for 2021 but hope to be able to plan hybrid or in-person events next year.
During this past challenging year, we are very proud of what we accomplished in support of our members as well as strengthening our outreach. We will continue to provide innovative programming, advocacy and networking for clinical social workers in Maryland, DC and Virginia – now and in the future. Below are some of the important advantages of your GWSCSW membership:
A special note to the Maryland clinical social work community: We are the only organization that pays for a Maryland lobbyist who looks after legislation of interest to and impacting clinical social workers – this covers you no matter where you are in the state!
We do all of this and more each year. GWSCSW is the only local social work organization that focuses its efforts primarily on the needs of clinicians—from graduate school through retirement and beyond! Membership is the best way to keep us all working together to promote our values and vision with strength and safety. Thank you again for your commitment and partnership.
Laura Groshong, LICSW, CSWA Director of Policy and Practice
Good news from CMS! CMS announced on November 2, 2021, the first group of many rules regarding the Physician Fee Schedule, which CSWA, and many of you, GWSCSW members, commented on in August. Our voices made a difference. CMS will extend coverage of telemental health and audio-only psychotherapy until the end of 2023.
CMS also changed the requirement that patients be seen in person from every six months to every 12 months starting in January of 2022. CSWA will continue to get this restrictive and unnecessary rule eliminated.
The announcement from CMS on rules for telemental health raised some questions which I will answer below:
Thanks to everyone who participated in this effort. Let me know if you have questions.
Adele Natter & Margot Aronson, DC Legislation and Advocacy Co-Chairs
Although the new DC social work licensing period began on August 1st, because of the ongoing COVID pandemic, we still have a lot to think about from the last renewal, including last minute additions to the requirements. We’re also keeping an eye on which regulations have changed and which will be continued through July 31, 2023.
The DC Board of Social Work expects to send out an announcement to all DC social work licensees clarifying final decisions on policies and requirements soon. Meanwhile, we’ve outlined here some highlights for you, with information as of our newsletter deadline:
CE Requirements - both for our last renewal and going forward
A total of 40 CEs are required in the two-year licensing period. Given pandemic conditions, the Board has decided that none need to be live face-to-face through the 2023 renewal.
Do be sure you have all your CEs for 2019-2021 ready to provide the Board in case you are audited. If you realize you are missing something, get it NOW! The penalty will be significantly lighter with your apology for lateness, than it will be if you cannot provide more than, say, 39 CEs, or no Public Health CEs.
Unexpected But Required: post-renewal period CEs due Sept 30
This year in mid-July, as most of us were busy checking and double-checking to see that we had all our CE ducks in a row, the Health Department issued a new requirement. All health workers would need 2 Covid vaccine-related CEs, and they would need to be completed by Sept. 30.
Finding appropriate trainings was a challenge, but not impossible. These two CEs are to be added to your file of CEs for the 2021-2023 renewal, and can be counted toward the Public Health requirement.
Auditing of these two CEs will take place soon. If you haven’t already earned them, get to it right away! Our understanding is that if you are late but can show that you’ve earned them, you will have a fine to pay. If you haven’t earned them when you are audited, you will not be able to practice for a period of time, and pay a more significant fine.
The same memo that each health licensee received in mid-July also set forth a requirement for all health workers (that includes us) to attest to having been vaccinated, or have a medical or religious exemption on file with the Health Department by September 30th. The attestation or exemption was to be filed on line on the DC Board of Social Work website.
Again, auditing of the vaccine or exemption will take place shortly. If you have not already filed online, do so ASAP, as failure to do so is likely to reap professional consequences.
Telehealth: With video? Audio-only? For supervision? For insurance reimbursement?
To the question of video and audio-only: Telehealth is permitted in DC, with no end date currently. This applies to therapy using video as well as audio-only. This means that DC licensees may practice with clients located in the District using telehealth. As for any clients NOT physically located in the District during your session, you must first check the requirements of the state in which the specific client resides.
Re: Supervision. Supervision can also be conducted virtually, and we anticipate this will continue through the 2021-2023 renewal.
As for insurance coverage, this is not a matter controlled by the Board of Social Work. There is proposed legislation for continuing telehealth coverage circulating at the national level at present, and the US Department of Health and Human Services is considering how to handle telehealth reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid after the pandemic. As these efforts progress (or fail to progress), we may want to advocate for continued coverage with our District Council’s Health and Human Services Committee and with our Office of the Insurance Commissioner. At present, however, we can only advise that you check with the particular insurance carrier as to whether telehealth sessions will be covered under your client’s insurance.
Supervised Practice Letter
The Board is creating - and clarification is pending - on a policy allowing new MSWs to practice social work under supervision between graduation and sitting for the ASWB exam. This has been a particularly difficult issue during the pandemic, as the wait time can be a number of months. Without the anticipated go-ahead from the Board, unlicensed MSWs cannot perform work in the social work scope of practice without being liable for fines, even if supervised, and indeed, their supervisors, too, would be liable.
The COVID Waiver Expires for Out-of-Jurisdiction Licensees
Social workers with a state license in good standing have been able to practice telehealth under the COVID waiver even though not licensed in DC. The waiver expired on October 31, following lots of warning and information about how to move forward. If you are unlicensed in DC now, you may no longer practice in DC, and yes, that means telehealth. Stop practicing ASAP if you have been doing so without a DC license since Oct 31. Submit an application for a DC license, show that you are licensed in good standing in another state, and complete the criminal background check. 48 hours after a clean background check, a 90-day temporary license will be issued.
Questions or requests for help or clarification should go to email@example.com.
Additional details can be found on the Board website,
The next meeting of the DC Board of Social Work will be January 24, beginning at 10 AM. See the Agenda section on the Board’s website for more information about the meeting.
We hope this is helpful, and we look forward to considering other issues of importance to clinical social workers in DC in the near future! Meantime, happy holidays to you.
Please use our usual newsletter bio info as appropriate
Adele Natter, LICSW, Co-Chairs the GWSCSW Legislation & Advocacy Committee for DC.. Adele has been an active participant on the Committee for the past four years; she represented GWSCSW on a Board of Social Work sub-committee, which included NASW and CSWA representatives. Adele maintains a private practice focused on helping individuals with anger and emotional regulation issues. She is also a Clinical Instructor in the Psychiatry Residency Program of the George Washington University Medical School. She holds a BA in Psychology from UCLA and received her MSW from the University of Maryland.Margot Aronson, LICSW, co-chairs the GWSCSW Legislation and Advocacy Committee for DC along with Adele Natter, LICSW. A past GWSCSW president, she has also served as newsletter editor and director of Legislation & Advocacy. Margot currently advocates on mental health and LCSW practice issues for us all at the national level as the Clinical Social Work Association Deputy Director for Policy and Practice.
Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee
Sue Rowland has been our lobbyist for several years and has played a very important role in helping GWSCSW and VSCSW successfully achieve legislative goals. Recently, she has been instrumental in setting up meetings between GW and delegates/senators from Northern Virginia, as well as meetings that have also included VSCSW. A major goal was to acquaint them with some of the serious problems our members are having with insurance companies. The end result was that they agreed that we could send them the problems, but also recommend some solutions. So, please send your case examples to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Wayne Martin at email@example.com and we will forward all that are appropriate, along with your suggestions to solve the problem. Medicaid-related problems are governed by Virginia Law and will be quite appropriate to send to the legislators. If your problems are with private insurance, we will figure out how to make them relevant to the legislative process. Keep reading and you will see other options for dealing with this.
Our lobbyist will also explore setting up meetings with insurance company representatives and representatives from our organizations. Another possible solution will be found below.
This brings us to the more unhappy news about our lobbyist. Sue Roland will be retiring from most of her lobbying clients, which means she will be leaving both Societies. She has given us the names of two potential new lobbyists, and we will be meeting with them soon. Sue will remain involved with us through the end of December, 2021.
Based on the problems with insurance plans that kept showing up in the list-serve. I asked our lobbyist, Sue Rowland, to set up a meeting with the VA Bureau of Insurance (BOI) to clarify what they can and cannot do for us and our clients. The meeting was organized jointly by us and the VSCSW, and they were the primary organizers. The meeting was held on October 15, 2021, with Ms. Billie White.
The BOI enforces and administers the insurance laws of Virginia to protect consumers and safeguard insurer solvency. The BOI also provides free professional information and complaint services to residents of Virginia. Alas, herein lies the rub. Our clients can call and register complaints against the insurance companies, but we, as providers, cannot. It took a while, and a lot of case examples presented by attendees, but Ms. White finally heard us. She agreed to relay our desire to be able to contact the BOI ourselves to an appropriate contact higher up in the BOI administration. This change would not only help us, but would give the BOI the opportunity to collect provider data to send to the Legislature, which is the only body that can change the law to allow providers to contact BOI directly.
There were two other points made by Ms. White. Providers need to check their contracts carefully to determine what is actually required of them by the insurance company. And providers can contact the BOI, who will direct them to the appropriate person to contact with problems with federal, Medicare and Medicaid insurances.
How to Find Your Legislators
Sue Rowland presented at the recent Legislation and Advocacy Luncheon held on October 31.
One of the topics covered was how to find which Virginia senator and delegate represent you. To do this, go to https://www.virginiageneralassembly.gov. Click on Visit the New "Who's my New Legislator Service". Then follow the prompts to find the legislators who represent you, as well as which legislative district you live in.
Crisis Receiving Centers (From a press release)
Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation on September 21, 2021, establishing the "Marcus Alert", a statewide mental health alert system to ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis, including by limiting the role of law enforcement. The law is named to honor Marcus-David Peters, a high school biology teacher who was killed by a police officer in Richmond while experiencing a behavioral health crisis in 2018.
"Individuals in crisis must be treated with dignity and met by behavioral health professionals who are equipped to help them get the care they need," said Governor Northam. "I am grateful to the advocates across Virginia (who) made their voices heard, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill, which represents an important step forward in reforming a system that too often criminalizes mental illness. Our work is far from finished, and I remain committed to continuing our efforts." Hopefully, our new governor and the Republican House will continue to see the importance of this program.
It should be noted that one of our members, Dan Campbell, has been very active in advocating for this program and has provided a synopsis of his work, as follows:
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is implementing the Marcus Alert Law in response to the police killing of Marcus-David Peters in 2018. The law requires Virginia to create a mental health crisis response system that will include a new 988 emergency number that will go to a separate call center beginning in the summer of 2022. Crisis responders will be able to bring people in need to Crisis Receiving Centers (CRC’s) rather than to criminal detention centers or emergency departments. These services will reduce mass incarceration and the overpopulation of state psychiatric hospitals.
A CRC is opening in Prince William County with 23-hour stabilization beds for 16 adults and 16 children. Additionally, 16 medium-term beds will allow patients to stay for up to 14 days, usually on Temporary Detention Orders (TDO’s). As you might imagine, a lot of money is required for the initial build out and ongoing operation of CRC’s. While Medicaid will pay for patients, the current estimate is that 38% of patients in the Prince William County CRC will be uninsured, requiring $7 million per year to keep it open. Fairfax County has similar services through the Merrifield Center. Other counties also are creating their own mobile crisis teams and CRC’s. However, state money to fully fund these efforts has not been allocated and is not in the current Governor’s budget for the 2022 General Assembly session.
GWSCSW has Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a grassroots advocacy group with over 50 dues-paying member congregations, to push for the full funding of CRC’s throughout the state. Dan Campbell has been active with both VOICE and our legislative advocacy committee. VOICE also advocates for other social justice issues, such as affordable housing and restoring drivers' licenses to felons. If you want to learn more about this issue, reach out to Dan Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributions to This Monthly Article from The Members
We welcome, well, we actually desire, to have--articles like Dan's that reflect what you, as members, are advocating for. We will be sending out a request for information to go into this column, on a quarterly basis, to be posted in the list-serve. Our members are doing a lot in the area of advocacy and we want to recognize that.
REQUEST FOR NEW BLOOD
No, we are not vampires. But we do need new blood on our L & A Committee. We are old and are both retired. We need members who are still practicing. It does not require giving a pint. A quarter of a cup, even an eighth of a cup, will do. A request from us may be to assist us in our contacts with legislators, provide information that will assist in passing relevant legislation, writing an article for this column, or in contacting your legislator to assist in promoting or defeating legislation. We look forward to your responses to our requests.
Judy Ratliff, LCSC , recently retired from work but not from GWSCSW or from life. She is the Co-Chair, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee.
Nancy Harris, Mentor Liaison
The Mentor Program is available for GWSCSW members still in school, newly graduated, approaching their clinical licensure and wondering about the next steps. Mentors can assist with questions about career direction, licensing, continuing education, relationships with supervisors, and decisions about what to do after clinical licensure. Mentorship is a powerful tool to enhance new social workers’ development.
If you are a member of GWSCSW and interested in signing up, please fill out the Mentor program form or contact Nancy Harris, LCSW-C, coordinator of the mentor program, for questions. Her phone is (301) 385-3375, email is nlharris1214@gmail.
Experienced social workers are always welcome to be mentors themselves. The application form to be a mentor is found at the same place on the GWSCSW website.
Do you have a topic that you know others are interested in learning about?
Would you like to share your expertise and promote your work?
GWSCSW would like to expand our workshop offerings and we are looking for members who would like to present a continuing education workshop. The Education Committee is working now to schedule events to run in 2022. This is a great opportunity to highlight your experience, share your research, and to and promote your practice.
Steve Szopa, Communications Branch Director
I am excited to report that we will be hiring a social media consultant before the end of the year. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in how people interact with organizations. Many people, and the majority of younger people, connect with organizations by social media and get informed about important events via social media. Fewer and fewer people go to websites to “see what's going on.” Important news needs to “go out” to them. The amount of work necessary to have a comprehensive and lively social media presence has grown to be too much work for a volunteer to do. In the next newsletter, I look forward to introducing you to the social media websites we have joined. With the increased expense of hiring a paid professional social media consultant, we had to reduce our budget, which is predicted to be a loss at the end of the year. With mixed feelings, we have decided to eliminate the printed version of the Newsletter and all of the concomitant mailing costs. The digital version is now the only version available. It will continue to be emailed to you with a direct link, meaning you will not have to sign in to read it. If you enjoy reading from printed copy rather than from a screen, all or portions of the Newsletter can be printed out on your own printer. The list-serve continues to be a popular and much-appreciated benefit of membership. We appreciate the lively conversation, clinical discussions, referrals and general information that everyone shares.
Patricia Gibberman, Community Branch Director
On behalf of the Community Branch, I would like to thank our retiring committee chairs, Frances Wu, University Liaison Chairperson and Susan Post, Volunteer Committee Chairperson, for serving in their positions so ably. And I would like to introduce our new University Liaison Co-chairs, Ruth Shea and Jamie Jones, and our new Volunteer Committee Chair, Jamie Dineen. We are very excited to have such capable and enthusiastic new Board members! We are also planning to expand the Membership Committee so that we can welcome new members as they join.
As a therapist, keeping track of your finances can bring up a lot of difficult feelings. It may feel like your practice’s financials are hanging over your head. You might be dealing with a full caseload of clients, pinching pennies trying to figure out how to best market yourself, or feel lost overall at the idea of getting your financial books in order. After all, you didn’t become a therapist to spend all of your time worrying about money or taxes.
Despite this, feelings of uncertainty or anxiety around your business finances are completely normal. Your graduate program never talked about how to file your taxes, much less calculate your deductions or tax write-offs. So, how do you make your finances work for you and feel more secure in propelling your practice to financial success? This is where it can be helpful to utilize an accounting company to assist with bookkeeping and managing your taxes. Services such as Heard can come in to take care of your books, relieve stress around your finances, and empower you to feel successful when filing your taxes and managing your practice.
One of the key financial hacks for a therapist, or anyone running their own business, is mastering the art of the tax deduction. At first glance it can seem overwhelming, but learning how to use tax deductions to your advantage can save you a lot of money in the process, ultimately setting you and your therapy practice up for the utmost success.
Anything with the word tax in it can draw up a bit of fear, but tax deductions or write-offs are actually an extremely advantageous part of the tax process! Tax deductions are ultimately deductions to your taxes that come from business-related expenses. You are able to subtract or “write off” certain expenses from your income, and then are taxed on the remainder of your income as your standard income tax. The terms “tax deduction” and “tax write-off” can be used interchangeably.
It’s important to note that, as amazing and helpful as they can be, tax deductions must come only from expenses that are directly related to your business. (No personal expenses allowed!)
Whether you have a solo practice or group practice, there are many expenses you can incur when running your own therapy business. Whether you’re attending workshops, have your own office or travel for work, you might be making a variety of payments over the course of the year that you’ll then be able to count as tax deductible.
Some of the most common opportunities for tax write-offs for therapists and mental health professionals include:
Tax deductions can definitely come in handy and save you lots of dollars in the long run, and with the above list, you’re ready to tackle them. But while these categories provide a solid overview of write-offs that will benefit your business, your deductions can vary based on your business entity and personal situation. The above categories are a quick sample of how you or your bookkeeping service can organize your books. This way, you can pay attention to where your cash is going and how best to maximize it come tax season. When the end of the fiscal year rolls around, all of your practice’s business expenses will be in one place and you’ll be all the better for it.
* The content of this post is intended to serve as general advice and information. It is not to be taken as legal advice and may not account for all rules and regulations in every jurisdiction. For legal advice, please contact an attorney.
Sarita Gulati is the Content & Partnerships Lead at Heard, a bookkeeping and tax platform for therapists, intended to ease the financial burdens of mental health therapy services and track the financial health of your practice. A proud partner of TherapyNotes™, Heard can help get your practice on the right financial path toward success.
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Professional CEUs: Rathbone & Associates Professional Training Program. See our current schedule at www.rathbone.info, click on “Professional Trainings”. Current topics, quality speakers, practical skills.
Two office spaces available in starting December 31st! Unfurnished office with window available, for rent full-time in Montrose Professional Park in N. Bethesda/Rockville, MD or furnished office available 3x/week. Newly remodeled, townhouse ground-level suite, nicely decorated waiting room. No steps! Free, ample parking for therapist and clients, close to 270 and 355! Ground level - 24 hour access. Rent includes water cooler and cleaning service; wi-fi, refrigerator, microwave, Keurig coffee for therapist. Suite is shared with other therapists, so lots of opportunities for referrals! For more information, email Pam...@prncounseling.com or call 240-242-3600.
Newly renovated, sunny, 1200 SF therapy office suite available in a charming courtyard professional building in Glover Park, just north of Georgetown. Suite includes 3 private offices, an open work area/admin area (that can easily be converted into a 4th private office), bathroom, and storage space, as well as a shared waiting room, full kitchen, and patio-balcony. All windows are brand new and open for outdoor ventilation! Amenities, such as coffee, water, snacks, and magazines, are included. Providers will have the ability to network with therapists in adjoining suite, who are a friendly and collaborative group. Located in a walkable neighborhood within a couple of blocks of new Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Sweet Green, yoga studio, gym, CVS, green park, and wooded trails. Georgetown Hospital, AU, and National Cathedral are all within a mile or two. Multiple bus lines, metered street and lot parking, and potential to rent spaces at the building’s surface lot are available. To express interest, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can view photos and find out more at districtpsychologyspaces.com.
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Nancy Pines, Editor
News & Views is published four times a year: March, June, September and December.
Articles expressing the personal views of members on issues affecting the social work profession are welcome and will be reviewed and published at the discretion of the editor. Signed articles reflect the views of the authors; society endorsement is not intended. Articles are subject to editing for space and clarity.
News & Views Submission Guidelines
If you have a submission, please send it to me: email@example.com. I edit the articles and reports and send them on to the proofers who check up on me. BTW, we have two dedicated proofers, Shoba Nayar and Adele Natter, but could use another one. Please let me know if you are interested. Email address is above.
Articles: Focus on your area of expertise and practice, ethical dilemmas, responses to events in the media or other topics relevant to clinical social work. Articles should be 500–700 words.
Reports: For each newsletter, I hope to hear from all branch and committee people to inform us of their activities.
Out & About – Share news about you: an article you’ve written, if you’ve been in the news, taught a class, earned a new certification or are a singer, artist or writer. Submissions should be 50 words or less. Send all submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next submission deadline: February 28, 2022
Need to reach a Board member? Click here for the listing of the GWSCSW Board of Directors