Private practice requires an additional level of registration. To engage in the private practice of social work in Nova Scotia, Registered Social Workers must apply to the Board of Examiners. 

The registration process demonstrates that you have advanced skills in one or more specialized areas of social work, and are able to apply them independently of an organization.

Before you apply

The “�? section of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW)  is a great resource for any RSW exploring the potential of private practice. It explores the pros and cons of this path, describes typical days in the life of a private practitioner, and helps you self-evaluate whether private practice is a good fit for you.

For the perspective of a private practitioner here in Nova Scotia, please read this article in Connection magazine by Heidi Sturgeon, RSW: “.�?


  1. Applicant must be a member in good standing and not currently the subject of an outstanding disciplinary order.
  2. Successfully completed a master’s or doctoral degree in social work from an accredited School of Social Work as listed with the Canadian Association of Schools of Social Work. International applicants must have their degrees assessed by the CASW.
  3. Applicants need to demonstrate they have a minimum of five years or equivalent hours of professional social work experience including:
    • two years (or equivalent hours) of professional social work experience, following completion of a masters or doctoral degree in social work and within the previous ten years, which is relevant to the area or areas of specialization in which the applicant proposes to conduct a private practice.
    • four years (or equivalent hours) of professional social work experience within the past ten years which is relevant to the area or areas of specialization in which the applicant proposes to conduct a private practice and which may have been obtained, in whole or in part, prior to completing a masters or doctoral degree in social work.
  4. The experience referred to in the above subsection must have been supervised by, or conducted in consultation with, another professional with appropriate expertise in the proposed specialization.
  5. In all cases, social work experience refers to a position in which the primary professional designation is social work, or for which a social work qualification was required or preferred.


To apply for private practice status, review these steps, assemble your necessary documents and then complete an online application:

  1. Visit your . 
  2. Select  from the menu options. 
  3. Select the checkbox option to change your member class.
  4. Select Private Practitioner as your requested member class.
  5. Fill out the online form and upload the following documents:
    • Current resume
    • Completed Specialty Checklist and Specialty Areas forms
    • Any supporting documents you wish to include regarding your area(s) of specialization
    • Proof of liability insurance
  6. Pay the $50.00 application fee.

After completing the online application, mail the following original documents to the College

  1. Criminal Record Check completed within last six months (contact local police orvisit: )
  2. .
  3. If the College does not already have your MSW or PhD transcript on file: An original transcript sent directly from your university registrar’s office to the College.

Applicants must also obtain two references attesting to the applicant’s competency in their proposed area(s) of specialization. Each of these references must come from a qualified Registered Social Worker in good standing with the College (or with the equivalent social work regulatory body in their jurisdiction if outside Nova Scotia) who can speak to the applicant’s ability to competently practice in the requested area(s) of specialization. Each referee should submit a completed Private Practice Referral form directly to the College by mail. 

Mailing address: 1888 Brunswick St., Suite 700, Halifax, NS B3J 3J8

The Board of Examiners may require an interview for clarification where other information is inadequate or inconclusive in assisting the Board to determine the suitability of the member to be approved for private practice.


Registered social workers who are licensed to engage in private practice may conduct the private practice of social work only in their approved area(s) of specialization.

To request approval for new areas of specialization, existing private practitioners must apply to the Board of Examiners in writing with an updated resume and supporting documents, which may include new Specialty Checklist and Specialty Areas forms.


RSWs applying to the Board of Examiners to become private practitioners must pay a $50 fee at the time of application. 

Licensed private practitioners also pay an annual fee to continue engaging in private practice; this is in addition to the regular registration renewal fees for active members of NSCSW.


The Board of Examiners receives administrative support from the College’s Regulatory and Applications Administrator, Ogochukwu Okechukwu. If you have questions about your private practice application, you can reach Ogo by phone or email:

Telephone: (902) 429-7799 x 221