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Friday, October 28, 2011

who's better

So I've been set off by a facebook post that began a slight debate that I have not really partaken with in some time. What is this great debate?

Who's better...the social worker or the counselor. or. LCSW vs. LCPC

We are not even going to throw psychologists or psychiatrists into this argument.

The debate usually comes up when someone is considering grad school.

Of course, as an LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor) I understand that I do have a bias towards my own certification over the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).

Now I can definitely step back and take an objective perspective to this. Both have their advantages. They really do. I have worked with both in different settings. Social services management, direct services, case management, and government, for profit and non-for profit work.

In my opinion, the main difference, simplified is breadth vs. depth. Someone may come along and argue that, but I don't really care. I think it just depends on which is more important to you. See, I actually tend to be more of a "breadth" person, I love having lots of kinds of knowledge in different areas, which allows me to speak to lots of different people about different things. However, in this debate, I am more of a depth person.

Social workers are trained in a variety of different things. Theory, psychopharmacology, legislation and lobbying, clinical skills, research, law, welfare, policy, etc. Look up any curriculum.

Counselors however are trained in almost strictly theoretical and clinical skills. You have to continually prove that you know theories, the DSM, clinical diagnosis and counseling skills and then prove that you can use them (not just know them) effectively to move on to each stage of your education. Including practicums in counseling couples, families, adolescents, groups, individuals, etc. and giving assessments. Look up this curriculum now and see the difference.

So what makes one better than the other? It depends on what you want to do with your degree. Now, social workers have to their advantage the fact that they advocate for themselves better in governmental institutions than counselors do, because they have that knowledge base. You often see more social workers in social programs, homeless, seniors, hospitals, military, DCFS, etc. However this is not exclusively the case. So there are often more opportunities in say the military or government jobs for social workers. Their ability to advocate has also allowed for more consistency across state lines in licensure laws. Counseling licensure still varies state to state.

Counselors on the other hand, from my experience, are very good therapists. That is what the training is in. They do well in non-for profits or private practices or whatever where they can counsel clients directly, and have less involvement in programming, grant writing, larger macro issues. (again, not exclusively).

So this is my simplistic analysis. Both are very vital positions. In my opinion. I enjoy doing hands on therapy with clients and getting down to the nitty gritty, like solving a puzzle, which is maybe why I am biased towards Counseling. I just came out of a social services management position, and trained case managers and ran a state funded senior service program, which maybe was better suited for the training of a social worker. And I will try my best to avoid going back into.

And there you have it.
The debate will probably continue.
I'm sure there are other fields that have similar "wars" going on.
 Curious what they are.

And these are my 2 cents worth. Maybe 3. :)

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