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Clinical social worker vs. mental health counselor/therapist: what’s the difference?

Educational and licensing requirements can vary by state and employer across both jobs. The disciplines are distinct enough to demand separate master’s degree curriculums.

The primary difference between clinical social workers and mental health counselors is the scope of their duties and the education required to perform them. Generally, counselors focus solely on mental health issues, while clinical social workers carry a wide variety of responsibilities including and beyond mental health care.

Becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) includes more involvement in managing your clients’ support network and larger community. While clinical social workers can potentially adopt a direct, active role in diagnosing and treating mental health issues, it’s not the sole purpose of the profession as it is for mental health counselors.

Learn more about our Master of Social Work program

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