Mental health counselors and social workers are both professionals who help people in need. While there is some overlap between the two, there are important differences in the services they provide and the approaches they take to help their clients. Mental health counselors are trained to directly help clients with mental health disorders or illnesses, while social workers help people cope with a variety of problems, including mental health issues, by connecting them to resources and services. Counselors are trained to apply cognitive-behavioral therapy and other counseling theories to help their clients, while social workers focus primarily on resources and access to services.
In school settings, social workers can work with students who need special education, including children with behavioral and mental health disorders. To become a mental health counselor, you must earn a graduate degree in mental health counseling or an equivalent subject. This degree program will prepare you to make a difference in the lives of the people you work with by providing focused mental health treatment as a specialist in this field. Career prospects for clinical mental health counselors are promising as awareness of mental health issues increases and becomes more important.Social workers can develop the skills to provide psychotherapy, but are more likely to help clients and communities find the resources they need to change their circumstances, remove social barriers, or influence public policy on a broader scale.
Many of these professionals are actively involved in advocacy efforts. When you earn a degree in counseling, you can become a counselor for families, students, veterans, or anyone with mental health or addiction problems. It can help people struggling with addiction or substances, treat groups that include couples and families, or help children and adolescents who face mental or behavioral health problems as they develop.The difference between social work and counseling functions is mainly the approach. While there is some overlap between clinical mental health counseling and social work, there are important differences in the services provided and the approaches taken to help clients.