Clinical Mental Health Counseling Versus Social Work
While there is some overlap between clinical mental health counseling and social work, there is also an important difference in approaches you will want to consider if choosing between the two fields.
As a counselor, you will typically work with clients to help them understand their emotions and cope with a specific set of problems. Consequently, your education and training will explore in-depth the forces that drive human behavior as well as cultural factors that influence that behavior. Because the counselor-client relationship is central to the therapeutic process, you will also be required to develop an awareness of how your personal experiences and biases influence your own behavior and worldview. While the educational focus for counselors emphasizes clinical practice, counselors also learn to implement outreach and advocacy interventions into their work with clients.
As a social worker, counseling is one of many services in which you may be involved. Working in social service agencies, private practice, or hospitals, you might perform case management, connect clients to community services, or advocate for systemic change in the welfare system. Because of this broader range of duties, you will find that many social work degree programs will not explore psychotherapy in the same depth as counseling programs typically do.