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Due to the dynamic nature of social work and counseling, both fields offer a variety of challenges and opportunities to empower individuals. A good first step in deciding which career path is the best fit for you is to think specifically about what types of settings you want to work in and the types of clients you want to help.
Another strategy is to look at common job postings in your area in each field and explore their requirements and key responsibilities. Many of the advanced roles will require a license in either counseling or social work, and some will accept both.
Read below to get a broad understanding of how these disciplines interact and where they differ. Additional knowledge areas that counseling graduate programs often cover include research ethics, dealing with individuals experiencing trauma and strategies for clinical assessment. However, social work courses examine these issues in a broader context that accounts for socioeconomic, personal identity and cultural factors.
Both types of programs will explore how these professionals can utilize their knowledge in a variety of settings, such as within a private practice, in an agency or in specific sectors like healthcare. For example, PayScale shows that individuals with both types of degrees often become mental health therapists. On the other hand, many social work graduates focus on working with individuals, families, groups and at the macro level influencing policy.
While many specific social work jobs may require some administrative work, the most common career paths for social work graduates all have social worker in their titles—the variety in roles comes from working in different settings or with specific types of clients. Licensure can impact what social workers are able to do, since they cannot practice psychotherapy without a Licensed Clinical Social Worker LCSW designation. In addition to working in a variety of organizations, some licensed social workers open their own practice.
In addition to becoming Licensed Clinical Social Workers, individuals in the field can pursue specific certifications in areas of practice. The two most common focus areas for MSW graduates are working with children and families, and helping individuals with mental health issues. Regardless of the setting, one of the common themes among most social work careers is a focus on helping their clients access the support they need. For example, some of the key responsibilities for a school social worker include:.
However, many of the responsibilities for social workers can vary dramatically. For example, do you want to work with adults or children? Child, family, and school social workers work for schools and school districts to identify the root causes of children's behavioral, social, or academic problems. These issues often involve the family, so these social workers must know how to work with both children and their parents.
Mental health and substance abuse social workers are experts in identifying signs associated with mental health conditions and drug abuse. They typically work with adolescents and adults. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities employ medical social workers to assist patients who need extra help recovering after discharge. For instance, a medical social worker may find an at-home caregiver for a patient. In addition to these three popular professions for social workers, others may exist in your home community.
Psychologists and licensed professional counselors share overlapping job responsibilities: meeting with clients, identifying mental health issues, and prescribing treatment plans. Although many psychology graduates go on to become a licensed professional counselor, their education prepares them for other careers as well.
They can also work as marriage and family therapists: professionals who work with families long term to solve underlying issues. Like licensed professional counselors, some psychologists work in schools or exclusively with children. They often help children who experience significant trauma such as the sudden loss of a parent or abuse. School counselors, on the other hand, help children cope with more common obstacles that prevent their success in school. For their licenses to renew, LPCs and LCPCs must complete multiple professional development courses each year, although requirements vary by state.
LPCs work in many roles. Child and school counselors both work with small children and adolescents either in school, community, home or office settings. Counselors develop action plans, and through regular meetings, determine if these plans have made a positive effect. Mental health counselors help individuals and groups cope with mental illness, trauma, stress, and other factors that impact mental health negatively.
What is the difference between a social worker, psychologist, and counselor? Social workers, psychologists, and counselors all provide vital services to people in need: Social workers identify clients' problems and research community resources that may help. Some of these resources may include psychologists and counselors' services.
Psychologists help clients by treating underlying emotional or mental problems. Psychologists also conduct and publish original research. Unlike counselors, psychologists often treat the same clients for long periods, sometimes years. Licensed Professional Counselors often specialize in a specific group e.
While psychologists attempt to uncover clients' underlying issues, counselors focus more on coping skills. Master's in Psychology Master's in psychology programs prepare graduates to work as psychologists and in many related careers e. Request information from Psychology Pepperdine.
Master's in Counseling Master's of science MS in counseling degrees prepare graduates to become licensed professional counselors LPCs in their home states. No GRE required Complete in as few as 18 months. No GRE required Full-time and part-time options available. No GRE required Pursue licensure as a clinical counselor in as few as 24 months.
MSW vs MS in Counseling Social work and counseling are two similar fields that focus on improving the lives of individuals, however the help being offered is delivered differently. Social work focuses on solving a large spectrum of social issues through the use of various resources. Counseling focuses on helping clients with a specific type of problem. Plus, counselors who work in a clinical setting may be responsible for diagnosing mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, which social workers may not have the training to do.
With these differences between the fields, the curriculum is different as well. Courses in counseling will be directed toward the methods, theories, and techniques of counseling. Additionally many counseling programs have specializations based on types of clients or conditions a student would like to work with, for example addiction counseling or school counseling.
There will be required courses that need to be taken if a specialization is chosen and internship experiences can be geared toward that specialization. Difference in Careers Social Worker Career For many people in need, a social worker often represents their first contact with someone who can provide help.
Ready to make an impact? Read more on How to Become a Social Worker. Psychologist Career Psychologists and licensed professional counselors share overlapping job responsibilities: meeting with clients, identifying mental health issues, and prescribing treatment plans. You may opt out of receiving communications at any time.