State Board of Social Work Examiners: News

Emotional Support Animal Recommendations Require Bona fide Provider-Patient Relationship

A bonafide provider-patient relationship should exist between a licensed healthcare professional and an individual seeking an emotional support animal (ESA) for therapeutic benefit prior to the issuance of a recommendation letter in Colorado. This bonafide provider-patient relationship is defined in the mental health, medical and nursing practice acts. 

Healthcare professionals must first establish whether a disability exists and if found, determine whether there is sufficient information for a recommendation for an ESA to provide a therapeutic benefit for that disability. In order to make such determinations, licensees must be both sufficiently familiar with the patient and the patient’s disability; and legally and professionally qualified to make this determination.

Nursing and mental health law (Section 12-255-133(3)(a) and 12-245-229(3)(a) Colorado Revised Statutes) further clarifies  that “a licensee shall not make a determination … unless the licensee has met with the patient in person.” Registered nurses are permitted to issue ESA recommendations but must be under the direct supervision of a licensed physician. 

Physicians shouldn’t make a determination unless having “met with the person or by telemedicine,” according to 12-240-144(3)(a), C.R.S.

Healthcare practitioners under the purview of Division of Professions and Occupations must follow all applicable laws for those seeking an assistance animal.

An ESA is an animal that provides a therapeutic benefit, such as emotional support, comfort, or companionship, to a person with a mental health or psychiatric disability. An ESA is not considered a Service Animal and ESA users don’t receive the same accommodations as service dog users.

 ESAs don’t perform specific tasks related to the person’s disability, instead, it is the presence of the animal that relieves the symptoms associated with the serious mental health condition. This condition is documented by a properly formatted prescription letter.

HB22-1299 License Registration Fee Relief for Mental Health Professionals

LSW Requirements Changing Effective July 1, 2022

The Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners is notifying candidates and
other stakeholders about an upcoming change regarding the Social Work Exam requirements.

Beginning on July 1, 2022 the Board will require that Licensed Social Work (LSW) applicants
complete the Master’s exam to obtain their LSW license. The Clinical exam will no longer be
accepted for the LSW exam requirement. This implementation ensures the Board is in
compliance with the Association of Social Work Board’s (ASWB) Exam Use Policy. Applicants
will then be required to complete the Clinical exam to obtain their Clinical Social Work (CSW)

The adoption of ASWB’s Exam Use Policy was originally slated to take place this year, on July
1, 2021. The ASWB Board of Directors approved Colorado's request for an extension to delay
implementation of the Policy until June 30, 2022.

On July 1, 2022, the Colorado State Board of Social Work Examiners is requiring the following
for application approval:

  • Master of Social Work
  • Passing of the Masters exam
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • Master of Social Work or Doctor of Social Work
  • Passing of the Clinical exam
  • 3,360 hours of supervised experience post-degree, with 96 hours of direct supervisor
  • contact, acquired within 2 years

Mental/Behavioral Health Parity Information

HB20-1206, Concerning the Continuation of Regulation of Mental Health Professionals

The Division of Professions and Occupations (DPO), within the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), has been provided the authority by the Colorado State Legislature to create the Mental Health Disciplinary Record Work Group. The Work Group will examine the state’s rules and policies with regard to the retention and use of certain kinds of disciplinary records as it relates to licensing of mental health professionals in the state. The Work Group, created by House Bill 20-1206, will meet throughout the Fall and Winter of 2020, and will make recommendations to the Governor, the Executive Director of DORA and the health committees in the House and Senate about any potential changes the Work Group identifies. 

New Disclosure Required

On May 14, 2019, Governor Jared Polis signed House Bill 19-1174 Out of Network Healthcare Services. The bill includes provisions for how health insurance carriers will reimburse providers (doctors, hospitals and other health care providers) for out-of-network emergency and non-emergency care. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2020, and also requires healthcare providers to develop and provide consumer disclosures about the potential effects of receiving emergency or non-emergency services from an out-of-network provider, and the possibility of “surprise  billing.” As part of the implementation of House Bill 19-1174 Out-of-network Surprise Billing, the Division of Professions and Occupations is providing a sample disclosure form. Please feel free to use your own form if you prefer.