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Legal Cases Affecting the Profession

EPICC offers you access to several case studies on legal cases relating to clinical social work standards and practice, as well as relevant testimony. As a unique profession with its own educational, ethical, and practice-related characteristics, clinical social work and its advocates must be willing to make an impact in the legislative, regulatory, and judicial arenas.

See below to explore three cases in which clinical social work has been successfully defended by ACSWA (American Clinical Social Work Association, EPICC’s colleague organization) and its affiliated units and partners.

New York Court Affirms Clinical Social Work’s Bio-psychosocial Approach (2005)

A New York Court holds that clinical social workers may provide services to those whose mental disorders or symptoms may be organic in nature or result from a concurrent physical ailment. The New York State Clinical Social Work Society played a pivotal role in the case, which cites ABE’s definition of clinical social work.

Read the case opinion and an ABE article about it:

Read Case Opinion OnlineDownload ABE Article

Maryland’s Highest Court Upholds Evaluation, Diagnosis, Expert Testimony (2000)

Confronted with the contention that clinical social workers do not have the right to assess and diagnose mental/emotional disorders or to serve as expert witnesses, the Maryland Court of Appeals found in favor of clinical social workers and upheld their right to perform these services.

ABE filed a joint amicus curiae brief in the case, which was supported by the state’s attorney general.

Read the brief and an ABE article published about this case:

Download the Brief (PDF)Download ABE Article

U.S. Supreme Court Decides in Favor of Clinical Social Work (1996)

In the U.S. Supreme Court Case of Jaffee v. Redmond, which arose from a clinical social worker’s refusal to turn over case notes, the Court granted a broad federal privilege of privacy of communication between psychotherapists (including clinical social workers) and their clients.

ABE filed a joint amicus curiae brief that was cited by the Court in its majority opinion.

Read it and other materials from this crucial case.

Jaffee v. Redmond 1996 News Release (PDF)Syllabus (PDF)Brief (PDF)Opinion (PDF)Dissent (PDF)Peter Brody, JD article (PDF)