Highlights of the Essentials of Private Practice Conference

by Patty Key,  LCSW 

I recently attended the NASW conference “The Essentials of Private Practice” which was delivered by NCSCSW member, Laurie Conaty, LCSW, LCAS.    There was a wealth of information presented and participants had ample opportunity to ask questions and network with one another.

I learned many things and I thought I would pass along a few highlights.

If you are in private practice, you should know:

  • All LCSW’s in the state of NC who are in private practice (group, solo or independent contractor) must have a Privilege License. It’s called the Art of Healing (code 432).  For LCSW’s who are employed by an agency or clinic, it is not necessary.  More information can be found at dornc.com. (NC GS105-41) Some counties/cities also require a business license.
  • All policy and procedures should be reviewed with the client at the first session and a copy of this signed business contract should be given to the client.
  • If you take insurance, you may not waive a copay or deductible.
  • If you take insurance you may not provide a sliding fee scale that goes below your highest contracted rate.
  • You may not bill an insurance company if the client misses an appointment; furthermore, you may not bill the client either if the client has Medicaid.
  • Ensure you read the contract that you have with any insurance company very carefully because often contracted rates are considered proprietary and therefore cannot be shared with other clinicians.
  • It is important to have access to both legal and financial (CPA or accountant) consultation, in addition to liability insurance. For example, there may be benefits to a sole proprietor being incorporated, including certain protections and tax implications.
  • You must develop an emergency plan for coverage when your office is closed or you are unavailable.
  • You should know your ‘scope of practice’ and use the NASW code of ethics to help guide your decision-making in your practice.

Laurie provides consultation to clinicians starting or growing a practice and for those who have specific private practice concerns.  She can be reached at makeitwork@laurieconaty.com or 919.292.1464.   There is also a comprehensive package of private practice forms available for purchase on her website at laurieconaty.com.

Patty Key, LCSW is in private practice in Raleigh.   She serves on the Board of NCSCSW as a Member-at-Large and is actively involved with the communications and membership committees.


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