Your Questions Answered

Learn more about social workers and how they are opening doors for people across Ontario

Registered Social Workers (RSWs) are the largest regulated profession providing mental health care in Ontario. They support people across their lifespans to:

  • Manage stress, anxiety, depression, trauma and substance-use disorders
  • Address workplace bullying, harassment, and employee stress / burnout
  • Resolve relationship challenges and family conflict
  • Adjust to life crises such as illness, disability, and caregiver stress
  • Manage grief and loss, and more

RSWs also help to connect people with important resources in their communities and assist them in navigating complex systems. RSWs can be found working on interdisciplinary teams to support the mental health and well-being of individuals, families and groups in places like schools, hospitals, long-term care homes, community agencies and within corrections settings, to name a few.

RSWs can also be found working independently or with teams of mental health professionals in private practice. RSWs work to advocate for social justice and human rights seeking to change inequitable structures by challenging systemic racism, discrimination and oppression.

Registered Social Workers (RSWs) bring a unique perspective to their work because they consider each person within the larger context of their families, workplace, and community. They also understand and consider the connections between personal challenges and larger social issues when developing a plan to assist. This is especially valuable in complex situations, when someone is experiencing a challenge in more than one area of their life.

RSWs will begin by assessing your unique situation and help you identify the source of stress or problems, strengthen coping skills and find effective solutions to improve your mental health and well-being. RSWs also work to provide supports that are culturally-sensitive, and connect people with resources that are linguistically and culturally appropriate.

A social worker’s education, training and expertise make them uniquely qualified to deliver a range of counselling, psychotherapy, and case management services. Social workers have at least one or more university degrees in social work and may posses a:

  • Bachelor of Social Work (BSW)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Doctoral degree in social work (PhD)

As a part of their education, social workers have training in anti-oppressive and anti-racist practice, preparing them to assess and address the impacts of racism, oppression, and discrimination on mental health.

Many Registered Social Workers (RSWs) have specific training and experience working with unique populations such as members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, children and youth, older adults; individuals living with neurodiversity (i.e. supporting those with ADHD and Autism) and eating disorders, to name a few.

RSWs must also meet continuing competency requirements, which means that they complete continuing education each year to remain up-to-date in their area of practice.

Registered Social Workers (RSWs) are regulated by the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. This means that RSWs have a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice that they must follow. To use the title "social worker" an individual must be registered with this College. If someone is registered, the initials RSW (Registered Social Worker) will appear after their name. To check that an individual is an RSW, visit the Online Register at Alternatively, you can contact the College via email at [email protected].


Yes, many social workers choose to disclose their race, ethnicity and/or sexual orientation, because this provides them with an in-depth and unique understanding of the needs of racialized and 2SLGBTQI+ individuals and families. If you would prefer to work with a social worker from your own community, we encourage you to seek out or request a social worker who you are most comfortable with.

The websites below can assist in your search for a social worker that shares your culture, background or lived experience:

For more resources on mental health care providers and supports in Ontario, visit our Mental Health Resources page.

If you are referred to these services through your local health care provider, such as your Family Health Team, at the hospital, or within long-term care and home and community care, then social work services are generally covered by OHIP. Social work services can also be requested and accessed at no cost through publicly-funded organizations such as at your child’s school or at community-based agencies that offer these services.

You typically will not need a referral to access an RSW in these cases. While a referral is not required, you may wish to discuss the challenges you are facing with a doctor or other care professional, and request a referral in order to connect with the most appropriate supports.

To access community-based mental health services, you can contact ConnexOntario for free and confidential support.

Registered Social Workers (RSWs) who are working in private practice are self-employed, and typically charge an hourly fee for their services. These fees are not covered by OHIP, but they may be covered under your insurance or employee benefits plan. For a listing of social workers in private practice, visit

In Ontario, most insurance companies provide coverage options for psychotherapy or counselling services provided by Registered Social Workers (RSWs). However, each employer negotiates with their insurer to select the specific services included in their employee benefits plan.

If you are not sure whether your insurance or employee benefits plan includes coverage for counselling or psychotherapy provided by an RSW, it’s a good idea to contact your insurance / benefits provider to verify your coverage before you begin working with an RSW. If your benefit plan does not cover counselling and psychotherapy services provided by an RSW, you may wish to raise this with your employer or insurance provider and ask that RSWs be added to the list of covered mental health professionals.

With more and more Ontarians needing support, ensuring access to timely, high-quality mental health care has never been more critical. As the largest provider of mental health care in the province, Registered Social Workers are vital to ensuring mental health access for all Ontarians.

In health care, long-term care, schools, community mental health, addictions support, private practice and more, Ontario’s more than 22,000 social workers are there to intervene early, reduce barriers, and deliver the quality mental health care that individuals, families, and communities need.