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Assignment 1: Scope of Practice

There was a time when psychologists were the primary human services professionals allowed to administer objective tests and diagnose mental and emotional disorders. However, as social workers and counselors began providing mental health services at a growing rate due to the need for more mental health service providers, many states began to authorize these professionals to provide these services if they could demonstrate competence, which could be gained from education, training, and experience.

There are advantages of allowing social workers and counselors to perform the same duties that were once exclusively performed by psychologists. For example, the services cost less when provided by a social worker or a counselor compared to the charges of a psychologist. In addition, the discipline-specific perspectives offered by social workers and counselors on mental health needs of clients have resulted in attention to the influence of factors beyond the focus of psychologists, such as housing, family problems, and other environmental factors affecting mental health. The current mental health community now considers social workers and counselors as qualified as psychologists to provide a full range of mental health services. Each state has specific rules for the scope of practice for each different type of mental health professional.

In this assignment, you will explore the differences in the scopes of practice among different human services professionals. Human services administrators have to be familiar with the laws and rules governing the practice of the different types of direct service professionals employed by their agency.

Tasks:

Review psychologist, counselor, and social worker licensure laws and rules in your state. After reviewing the laws and rules, address the following:

  • What are the differences in education and training requirements for competence in psychological testing among psychologists, counselors, and social workers?
  • What level of licensure is required for social workers to diagnose mental health disorders?
  • Provide your opinion about the major differences you found in your research on the competency requirements for psychologists, counselors, and social workers to engage in psychological testing and diagnosing clients.

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