Membership and Self-Reporting

NASW promotes the quality and effectiveness of social work practice. Professional Review is a collaborative process between chapters and the national office to provide a peer review of alleged unethical conduct of its members. 

The professional review process is designed to correct and improve the practice of individual social workers as needed. The actions of the process are intended to be constructive and educative rather than punitive. Only in cases of serious misconduct may penalties be imposed.

Membership Agreement 

The NASW Code of Ethics identifies core values on which social work’s mission is based, summarizes ethical principles that reflect the profession’s core values, establishes a set of specific ethical standards that guide social work practice, and provides the basis on which the public can hold a practitioner accountable.

All members agree to abide by the NASW Code of Ethics and agree to submit to professional review proceedings for any alleged violation of the same in accordance with NASW Bylaws. Any conviction of a felony or revocation of social work licensure will be grounds for rejection and/or termination of Association membership and revocation of any and all benefits resulting therefrom.

The following recommendations were approved by the NASW National Board of Directors at its October 2009 meeting in Washington, DC. This procedure was effective immediately. These procedures were adopted in order to address concerns about protection of the public. 

Approved Procedures

Automatic Revocation of Membership

Automatic revocation of membership will be implemented based on action taken by a state licensing board to revoke a member’s license or as a result of a felony conviction of a crime in a publicly reported forum. The action taken will be as follows: 

  • If a social work licensure board action requires revocation of the member’s license: NASW membership will be revoked.
  • If a member is convicted of a felony: NASW membership will be revoked.

This will not require a review by the National Ethics Committee or NASW Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. Membership Services will facilitate the revocation of membership. 


When a chapter becomes aware of a substantiated criminal or social work licensure violation by a social worker member based on information available in the public domain that has resulted in an action less than a felony or revocation of membership, the chapter will forward the information to the national office for review. The NASW national office will notify the member, in writing, of the information received from the public domain, provide a recommendation that the member self-report, and provide notice that failure to self-report within 30 days will result in automatic suspension of NASW membership. This will not require a review by the National Ethics Committee or NASW Board of Directors’ Executive Committee. 

Suspension of membership will be facilitated by the Office of Ethics and Professional Review and processed by Membership Services. If a self-report is filed, the matter will be handled as a national ethics case, according to the process available under the Procedures for Professional Review, Revised for national cases.

This will enhance consistency of outcomes and expedite the review process. The proposed national office notification assures that a member whose violation or conviction has become public knowledge (with the exception of revocations and felonies) will be afforded an opportunity for review before automatic sanctions are implemented by NASW.