What’s the Difference between an MSW and an LCSW

What's the Difference between an MSW and an LCSWWhen you need support and help through a trying time, you may consider seeing a therapist. Whether you are struggling with a mental or emotional disorder like depression or bipolar disorder, or struggling with substance abuse or addiction, counseling can be incredibly beneficial.

Before seeking treatment for any addiction or mental health concern, it is wise to know your options. There are a number of mental health care professionals you can choose from, including:

  • A mental health counselor
  • A social worker
  • A psychologist
  • A drug and alcohol counselor
  • A marriage and family counselor
  • A career counselor

Knowing what each of these job titles means can help you determine the right treatment provider and program to fit your needs.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers

Social workers typically work with people who are experiencing some sort of difficulty in life. While mental health counselors tend to help clients work through more emotional and trauma-related issues, social workers often help clients with more concrete issues such as housing, sober living, public services, educational advocacy and legal advocacy.

All licensed clinical social workers must have a master’s degree in social work.  A master’s degree typically takes between 6-8 years to achieve after high school is complete. Master’s degrees are a step above a four-year bachelor’s degree and a step below a 6-8 year PhD. They often require highly specialized college course-work, an internship, and some level of intensive research.

After a social worker completes the master’s degree education, he or she then has a degree called a Masters of Social Work, or an MSW. This simply indicates that the social worker has completed a master’s level program specializing in helping others.

In order to become an LCSW, or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a person must complete real-life clinical experience for at least three years after graduating with an MSW. That person must also follow strict guidelines of high moral ethics, complete several competency tests and receive supervision from a highly experienced social worker.

Licensure to become a social worker varies by state. Each state in the U.S. has a licensure board that requires a differing level of graduate coursework, experience and years of real-world experience after graduate education. To find out about your state’s specific rules for becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker or to learn more about the ethics that govern LCSWs, you can visit the National Association of Social Workers website at http://www.naswdc.org/.

Find a Social Worker Who Specializes in Addiction Treatment

If you would like to learn more about what a social worker can do for you, or if you would like to learn more about family therapy, family addiction counseling, substance abuse programs, or mental health treatment, please call our toll-free helpline. Our experienced recovery and wellness professionals are available 24 hours a day to help you understand your treatment options and even connect you with treatment services that meet your needs. Find out how we can help today.