Mental health counselors work with people who suffer from mental health disorders or illnesses. Social workers help people cope with a variety of problems, which may include mental health problems, but may also include the participation of the judicial system and access to housing, health care and public assistance. Both programs prepare candidates to make a difference in the lives of the people they work with, but this can happen in different ways. Counselors are trained to directly help clients.
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. While social workers help people overcome challenges through counseling, they also help connect clients to other services and resources. Many of these professionals are actively involved in advocacy efforts. The difference between social work and counseling functions is mainly the approach.
Social work focuses primarily on resources and access to services. The application of cognitive-behavioral therapy and other counseling theories is another feature of counseling work that differentiates it from social work. In school settings, social workers can work with students who need special education, including children with behavioral and mental health disorders. 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.
To become a mental health counselor, you must earn a graduate degree in mental health counseling or an equivalent subject. Counseling places more emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders or specific sets of problems. In other words, they strive to understand how environmental circumstances, such as family relationships, friendships and work situations, shape the mental health of their clients. On the other hand, mental health counselors help people struggling with alcoholism, eating disorders, and other mental or behavioral health problems that may arise from these types of conditions.
Counselors often help individuals and families resolve a specific set of problems, often related to behavioral, emotional and mental health. As with a mental health counseling program accredited by CACREP, earning a CSWE-accredited master's degree in social work can increase your job opportunities after you graduate. The clinical approach to professional counseling also differentiates it from social work, as counselors sometimes diagnose mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, that may be outside the bounds of social work, depending on the social worker's training. As a clinical mental health counselor, you will provide focused mental health treatment to your clients as a specialist in this field.
While the educational approach of mental health counselors emphasizes clinical practice, they will also learn to implement outreach and advocacy interventions in their work with clients. Career prospects for clinical mental health counselors are promising as awareness of mental health issues increases and becomes more important. 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.
LMHCs, on the other hand, focus on mental health and patient counseling and are able to provide their clients with comprehensive counseling services. .