How To File a Complaint

Steps for filing a request for professional review

NASW is very interested in reviewing situations that affect the integrity of our profession.

COVID-19 continues to impact our operations and policies.  Effective March 30, 2020, a process allowing electronic submission of new professional review cases was instated. The Office of Ethics and Professional Review (OEPR) will accept complaints via email only and we are currently reviewing inquiries received. However, for administrative reasons, all time frames for additional steps in the professional review process will be delayed until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and cooperation.

Please be advised that the NASW professional review process DOES NOT assist in reimbursement or resolution of billing or fee disputes or investigate anonymous complaints. In addition, NASW does not handle complaints against facilities.

Many states have licensure laws that provide an avenue for filing a complaint of unprofessional conduct. Complainants may consider filing a complaint with the social work licensing board in their state during the professional review delay in timeframes.

Questions regarding current open cases and how to start a Request for Professional Review (RPR) can be sent to our office at

How to Complete and Submit a Request

1. Download and review the following:

2. Request technical assistance, if needed.

The Office of Ethics and Professional Review (OEPR) can provide guidance and technical assistance throughout the professional review process. However, the OEPR cannot advocate on the Complainant’s or Respondent’s behalf.

Technical assistance is not required in order to file a complaint, and there are no fees associated with the use of this assistance.

3. Complete the Request for Professional Review Form

Download Request for Professional Review Form and complete the form in its entirety.

A 3-page maximum Statement of Issue is to accompany the RPR.

  1. That statement must cite the specific standards of the NASW’s Code of Ethics that were allegedly violated.
  2. It must include a list of and a detailed description of materials to be used that will support the allegations.
  3. It must include a list of intended sources of evidence, and (if applicable)
  4. It must include the status of any legal action underway related to the matter.

Unless specified in the Procedures, please do not submit any additional documentation.

For guidance, please refer to Chapter 1 of the Procedures; “Who May File an RPR,” and “How to File an RPR,” and Chapter 4 of the Procedures; “Criteria for Acceptance”.

Complete the NASW Professional Review Confidentiality Pledge/Statement of Understanding form located on pages fifty-seven (57) and fifty-eight (58) of the Procedures, in its entirety. This form is a requirement for an RPR to be considered.

Once all the necessary forms are complete, please submit your RPR packet to

Attn: NEC Intake Subcommittee

The named Respondent will have 14 business days to respond to the RPR. Please note whether the Respondent chooses to respond to the RPR or not, the professional review process will proceed.

Next Steps

4. Review

The Intake Subcommittee of the National Ethics Committee (NEC) will review the RPR in order to determine if the criteria for acceptance have been met.

5. Mediation or adjudication

If the RPR is accepted for review, the NEC Intake Subcommittee will determine whether the matter will be referred to mediation or adjudication.

Mediation: a collaborative problem-solving process in which a neutral third party guides a discussion intended to aid the parties in the dispute define the issues, obtain relevant information, and generate reasonable options for resolution. 

Mediation is a conflict resolution process that is valued both as an element of social work practice and as a way to resolve grievances related to violations of ethics. Because mediation is a conflict resolution process in which the participants themselves decide on the outcome, NASW does not determine whether specific violations of the NASW Code of Ethics have or have not occurred.

Adjudication: the process of determining whether a professional action is in violation of the NASW Code of Ethics. 

When a RPR is referred for adjudication, a hearing is held to determine if the social worker’s action was indeed a violation of the Code. A report of the Hearing Panel’s conclusions is issued, and any appropriate recommendations are made.

6. Direct any additional questions about the professional review process to the OEPR at