Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Masters of Social Work degree
sorbetdelight wrote in psychology
After getting a bachelors in Psychology, what do you think of getting a masters of social work in terms of your options for work in the psychology field?
I keep coming back to the conclusion that if i want to do counseling, in a private practice or public agency, that a social work license may be the best way to go and open up broad options.
Do you think this is true?
If you have a masters in social work, how did you find your academic experience and what are you doing with the degree?

  • 1
From what I know of the field, an MSW and an LMHC do pretty much the same thing and are eligible for the same positions in a lot of states, but social workers have been around longer and have more public visibility. An MSW also gives you more education on how to deal with institutions and bureaucracies and social workers as a group are better at advocating for their profession. There is some state-to-state variation, though; I think there are three states without M.A. licensing for counselors. Social workers do counseling and are just as effective as mental health counselors.

PS: I"m in counseling psychology, so I am not going into either field.

i am planning on going for my masters in counseling psychology as well, what are your plans after you get your degree?

In the United States, at least, there is no such thing as a master's degree in counseling psychology. Counseling psychology is a doctoral degree and "psychology" licensing is only for those who have Ph.D.s. The master's level degree is in just "counseling," although many schools will call it community counseling or mental health counseling, and it leads to licensing as a "counselor" (the LMHC that I mentioned in my first reply). The M.A. in counseling is usually a terminal degree, leading to licensing and work as a counselor in community mental health agencies, private practice, hospitals, etc., but some students do go on to Ph.D. programs, especially if they are interested in research or testing. I wanted to make the distinction that I was not going into social work or master's level counseling so that the OP would know that I am not deeply invested in either profession, because there is sometimes friction between the two.

After I get my Ph.D., I am either going to become a professor or do research and practice at the VA; I haven't decided yet. Have you started looking at counseling programs yet? What type of counseling/population are you most interested in?

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Do you know if they have L.L.P. licensing in all 50 states? I can't find much about it online.

What issues do you see L.L.P.'s treating that social workers don't? From what I have seen, social workers (and LMHCs, since they usually work in the same settings) deal with everything in the DSM and then some. Also, although counseling is typically refers to treating less severe problems in comparison to therapy, in practice, there isn't really a distinction between the two in terms of techniques, and many "counselors" in mental health settings end up "counseling" people with chronic and severe mental health issues. The counseling M.A. programs are actually changing their names to reflect a clinical orientation and are now called "clinical mental health counseling." A lot of counseling M.A. programs also make students eligible for L.L.P. licensing, and clinical psychology M.A. programs often lead to licensure as a mental health counselor.

From what I remember of the APA guidelines, don't L.L.P.'s have to be supervised? I don't know anything about what kinds of testing L.L.P.'s are allowed to do, but I assume it would have to be supervised, because the big distinction between an M.A. and a Ph.D. in any of these fields is extensive training in administering specific psychological tests, which you can't get during a two year M.A. degree.

Also, in most states, counseling psychologists and clinical psychologists get the same license. Some people argue that distinctions between the two fields are fading and that there is a huge degree of overlap. Some people argue that the distinctions are still very important and relevant. I'm on the fence.

PS: To the OP: The MSW is the most recognized/visible master's level degree and would probably be the easiest in terms of moving between states, job eligibility, insurance reimbursement eligibility, etc.

I'm in the same boat as you -- I'm graduating in May with a BA in Psychology and a minor related to social work [Family Violence Prevention], and am aiming to get my MSW.

What I was told by my clinical psychology professor was that if you want to be a counselor or therapist, you should get your MSW. Most PhD programs are very research-oriented rather than practice-oriented. I guess it depends on the school, too, but at mine, you are basically working on research non-stop for higher-up professors.

I think an MSW is a good way to go if you want to work at a non-profit or a public agency. It's only two years and you get a lot of direct practice. Plus, you get educated about issues affecting different populations - I think that's always helpful in any social service work. I think it will open up options if you decide you don't want to work in mental health anymore -- social workers are needed in a lot of areas.

That's not necessarily true. There are a lot of benefits to going Clinical PhD even if you just want to practice, and it's not difficult to find PhD programs that are equal emphasis or even practice-focused.

I got my B.A. in psych and now I'm in an MSW program. I'm really enjoying it but a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm interested in many areas of social work and not just therapy. There is definitely a lot of overlapping but it deals a lot more with the social aspect also.

My friend went the MSW route and seems to like it so far.

  • 1

Log in