"Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

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Small Law Survivor
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"Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by Small Law Survivor »

My daughter wants to go to grad school to become a therapist, and she's explaining to me that she has two degree options: Masters in Counseling and Masters in Social Work.

We live in Massachusetts, and she wants to live and work here after graduation. She is leaning toward the Masters in Counseling, which is the only degree granted by a one particular grad school in the Boston area. I'm reluctant to name the school in this post (but will disclose in a direct message). Not sure why, just my instinct.

I am completely unfamiliar with these degrees and this profession, and I'm having a difficult time advising her. If anyone here can help me understand and compare these degrees, so I can advise her more effectively, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
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ahnathan
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by ahnathan »

I do not know the answer, but if she wants this particular path I assume she has some access or exposure to it? Has she interned with anyone? Volunteered?
If so, perhaps she has some brains to pick that currently work the field that could help her make that decision as well.
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Small Law Survivor
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by Small Law Survivor »

ahnathan wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:13 am I do not know the answer, but if she wants this particular path I assume she has some access or exposure to it? Has she interned with anyone? Volunteered?
If so, perhaps she has some brains to pick that currently work the field that could help her make that decision as well.
Thank you - yes, she is doing that. But I can't judge the quality of the advice she's receiving, and I'm looking for a broader source of knowledge. I know from my experience as a young lawyer that good advice is a rare commodity - I received poor advice that influenced the course of my career. But, back in 1977, when I had a difficult career decision to make, I had very few resources. I think the more resources you have, the better. Yes, advice from people on this forum is anonymous, but it does provide a data point. I see a fair number of lawyers or prospective lawyers posting here from time to time, and getting valuable, accurate advice. Hoping for the same for prospective therapists.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by qwertyjazz »

Have her check state laws in whatever states she will likely wind up in in terms of independence practice. Make sure she is trained in CBT and EMDR either with coursework or afterwords. Ask about how they arainge post schooling practice to gain hours. I have only seen both from the outside once they are in practice so I am not sure of details of how to get there. But at end of day you want to be an independent practitioner that can bill who is trained in evidence based practice models which insurance companies reimburse. I would start at that end point and work backwards.
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dh
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by dh »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:02 am My daughter wants to go to grad school to become a therapist, and she's explaining to me that she has two degree options: Masters in Counseling and Masters in Social Work.

We live in Massachusetts, and she wants to live and work here after graduation. She is leaning toward the Masters in Counseling, which is the only degree granted by a one particular grad school in the Boston area. I'm reluctant to name the school in this post (but will disclose in a direct message). Not sure why, just my instinct.

I am completely unfamiliar with these degrees and this profession, and I'm having a difficult time advising her. If anyone here can help me understand and compare these degrees, so I can advise her more effectively, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
While they are both "help profession" disciplines, they may differ significantly in training. Counseling programs focus on training students to do individual and group psychotherapy (often specializing on school, community, marriage and family, etc). Social Work programs focus on training people to do more macro level social advocacy and policy. However, there are some Clinical Social Work programs that offer significant training in psychotherapy as well. It really turns on making certain your daughter knows what she wants to do, talk with people who are doing what she wants to do, and getting working professionals' advice on what is the best path. If she wants to remain in Massachusetts it is important for her to talk with people in your state, as licensure laws for both professions vary state-by-state.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by jeremyl »

dh wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:36 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:02 am My daughter wants to go to grad school to become a therapist, and she's explaining to me that she has two degree options: Masters in Counseling and Masters in Social Work.

We live in Massachusetts, and she wants to live and work here after graduation. She is leaning toward the Masters in Counseling, which is the only degree granted by a one particular grad school in the Boston area. I'm reluctant to name the school in this post (but will disclose in a direct message). Not sure why, just my instinct.

I am completely unfamiliar with these degrees and this profession, and I'm having a difficult time advising her. If anyone here can help me understand and compare these degrees, so I can advise her more effectively, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
While they are both "help profession" disciplines, they may differ significantly in training. Counseling programs focus on training students to do individual and group psychotherapy (often specializing on school, community, marriage and family, etc). Social Work programs focus on training people to do more macro level social advocacy and policy. However, there are some Clinical Social Work programs that offer significant training in psychotherapy as well. It really turns on making certain your daughter knows what she wants to do, talk with people who are doing what she wants to do, and getting working professionals' advice on what is the best path. If she wants to remain in Massachusetts it is important for her to talk with people in your state, as licensure laws for both professions vary state-by-state.
Good advice from dh on checking with state licensure information. I have a masters in school counseling in Indiana. This is part of the pathway students take toward being a licensed therapist (at least when I graduated in 09).

I would have to believe the counseling path is better than the social worker path. Not to mention it may allow her to become a school counselor if that is or becomes an interest at some point.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by pezblanco »

SLS, I have sent you a PM.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by BolderBoy »

qwertyjazz wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:34 am Have her check state laws in whatever states she will likely wind up in in terms of independence practice. Make sure she is trained in CBT and EMDR either with coursework or afterwords. Ask about how they arainge post schooling practice to gain hours. I have only seen both from the outside once they are in practice so I am not sure of details of how to get there. But at end of day you want to be an independent practitioner that can bill who is trained in evidence based practice models which insurance companies reimburse. I would start at that end point and work backwards.
+1.

She wants to be sure that whatever path she chooses that she ends up with the fewest barriers to practice that she can muster.
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dbr
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by dbr »

One source of information would be to investigate which qualification is held by people in the community who do what she plans to do. It could be very different when seeking a position in a school system compared to a state agency compared to a private practice.

Sorry I cannot be specifically helpful.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by kjvmartin »

I have a social work degree.

There are 3 degrees that can do roughly the same job when licensed accordingly. Masters in counseling, masters in social work, and masters in psychology. There are a number of hoops to jump through post degree for any of them to be able to independently practice. Not to disparage anyone else, but for a couple of economic reasons, I'd choose the social work degree path.

#1. The skillset is useful in any job function. You're learning to work with people and approach situations from a certain perspective. You also learn, after seeing firsthand what a lot of unfortunate things people go through, to soften up a bit toward people in general. I'm in management in a government agency and I appreciate my degree.

#2. A social work degree opens a lot of doors. Independent therapy practice (business owner). Therapy for an agency or non profit. Hospital social worker (same pay as an RN, no bodily fluids). Geriatrics. State/local/federal prisons. Federal/VA (pension!!). Community corrections. Child protective services, foster care.

On the other hand, when I got my degree, it seemed that a lot of the classes existed to indoctrinate me into certain mindsets. I consider myself open minded, and so does the social work profession, but I found the open mindedness to be very one sided. In todays climate I wonder if my personal beliefs would preclude me from acceptance into a social work program. Also, not all that I learned was helpful in the real world.... and some was harmful. Won't go into detail, but social work programs at most universities are very passionate about demanding & making changes. I have learned....It is usually not prudent to take that mentality into your bosses office.

Hope this perspective helps. I think these are very similar careers and either can be very rewarding.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by smitcat »

kjvmartin wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:38 pm I have a social work degree.

There are 3 degrees that can do roughly the same job when licensed accordingly. Masters in counseling, masters in social work, and masters in psychology. There are a number of hoops to jump through post degree for any of them to be able to independently practice. Not to disparage anyone else, but for a couple of economic reasons, I'd choose the social work degree path.

#1. The skillset is useful in any job function. You're learning to work with people and approach situations from a certain perspective. You also learn, after seeing firsthand what a lot of unfortunate things people go through, to soften up a bit toward people in general. I'm in management in a government agency and I appreciate my degree.

#2. A social work degree opens a lot of doors. Independent therapy practice (business owner). Therapy for an agency or non profit. Hospital social worker (same pay as an RN, no bodily fluids). Geriatrics. State/local/federal prisons. Federal/VA (pension!!). Community corrections. Child protective services, foster care.

On the other hand, when I got my degree, it seemed that a lot of the classes existed to indoctrinate me into certain mindsets. I consider myself open minded, and so does the social work profession, but I found the open mindedness to be very one sided. In todays climate I wonder if my personal beliefs would preclude me from acceptance into a social work program. Also, not all that I learned was helpful in the real world.... and some was harmful. Won't go into detail, but social work programs at most universities are very passionate about demanding & making changes. I have learned....It is usually not prudent to take that mentality into your bosses office.

Hope this perspective helps. I think these are very similar careers and either can be very rewarding.

"Hospital social worker (same pay as an RN, no bodily fluids). Geriatrics. State/local/federal prisons. Federal/VA (pension!!). Community corrections. Child protective services, foster care."
Not nearly the same pay scale where we are in NY - either in the Hospital or the VA setting. YMMV
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by stemikger »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:02 am My daughter wants to go to grad school to become a therapist, and she's explaining to me that she has two degree options: Masters in Counseling and Masters in Social Work.

We live in Massachusetts, and she wants to live and work here after graduation. She is leaning toward the Masters in Counseling, which is the only degree granted by a one particular grad school in the Boston area. I'm reluctant to name the school in this post (but will disclose in a direct message). Not sure why, just my instinct.

I am completely unfamiliar with these degrees and this profession, and I'm having a difficult time advising her. If anyone here can help me understand and compare these degrees, so I can advise her more effectively, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
My daughter is a social worker and received an MSW. A Masters in Social Work gives you more options work wise. The degree in Mental Health Counseling. She is limited with that degree whereas a social worker has many options as far as the type of work she wants to do. So far my daughter is happy with her decision and has been in the field for about a year now. Having said that, the money in social work is kind of like a teacher, you don't get into these fields to make big money. Many of her grad student friends make about $50K and she makes $63K.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by Rwsawbones »

In Ma Social Workers are licensed and are also credentialed by insurers and can in many circumstances be paid by insurers.

Anyone can give themselves the title of counselor no licensing or credentialing required. Also no insurance payments.

Doctoral level psychologists can be licensed by the commonwealth and credentialed by insurers.

One caveat my information is several years old. But the principles are to check on state licensing and insurer credentialing
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by Rwsawbones »

Since my last research it appears that Ma does now license people as mental health counselors. Licensed Social Workers at the masters degree level are definitely part of the medical team often taking care of the same patients as MDs and being paid for their care. There are well defined educational, training and initial supervision for social workers. Given the choice if one can afford the education and can do the vigorous education and training in a social work program that is an excellent path.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by epictetus »

i have posted links below from the occupational outlook handbook on social worker and mental health counselors:

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-s ... orkers.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-s ... selors.htm

I think the social work path will give more options than mental health/professional counselor path would.

I think Medicare allows for social workers with the right qualifications/certifications to bill Medicare directly.

I don't think mental health counselors/professional counselors can do so.

hope this is helpful
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by chipperd »

I am an LCSW in CT and have worked for a private practice (much like working for a law firm ie: billable hours), hospital setting and had my own private practice among other professional experiences in over 25 years. Here is my 2 cents.
In CT there is a large difference between getting a masters in counseling (typically 30 credits) vs an MSW (60 credits, unless you have an undergrad 5 year, BSW), could save you up to 30 credits towards an MSW. Again, I am only speaking of my experience in CT, but third party reimbursement (insurance companies) is a powerful force in the clinical social work/counseling world. If you can get licensed in your state, and have the requisite experience insurance companies want, you can get on insurance panels (BC/BS, Cigna, Aetna and the like) and accept insurance for private practice, either yours or your employer's. This makes you so much more marketable in the eyes of potential employers, but also makes it much easier to hang out your own shingle which leads to flexibility (see: kids/child rearing).
In CT, to become licensed (LCSW), one needs two years post MSW clinical practice with 100 hours supervision under an LCSW, then sit for and pass the exam. Once an LCSW has been obtained, most insurance companies want 5 years post LCSW experience before you can get on their panel and accept third party payment for services.
Overall, an MSW/LCSW is considered the more desirable credential in CT over a masters in counseling, but I'm not sure how it works in Mass. Perhaps she could ask if she can get a license to practice clinically and/or on an insurance panel with a masters in counseling. Working for an agency or employer without an LCSW, one could expect about 18-30/hour vs with an LCSW up to $87/session in private practice ins. reimbursement. I used to charge cash clients $100/session and some my colleagues charge $125-200/session cash in their own practices.
Feel free to PM me with more specific questions if you like. Overall, in CT, an LCSW has provided me with numerous opportunities, including the flexibility for me to afford to work part time in my own private practice, stay home with my kids and tag team child rearing with my wife until they got older.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by justlearnin »

I have an MSW which I received in 1992 from an accredited social work school. It takes 2 yrs to get an MSW (if you go full time) from an accredited program. I did not have a BA in SW, my BA major was Anthropology. For most of my career (before getting my JD) I was a hospice social worker and was considered a medical social worker. I loved my job. I worked with people of all races, incomes and ages. It was a gift to do this work. I worked off and on in this profession for about 12-14 yrs.

The one thing about social work is you can choose your path and you can move around if you want. Many of my classmates worked in other areas. For instance one class mate worked with people experiencing domestic violence, another worked with people experiencing sexual assault, another worked with the homeless, some work with people who have addictions--this is such a broad field. Some work in the child welfare system (most in that arena, not all, though have a BA rather than MSW--although those with MSWs often are supervisors or administrators). Others did clinical social work--hung their shield and concentrated on therapy. Doing medical social work like I did I could work in hospice or a hospital or do home health. You can be a school social worker (and work 9+ mos a year). It's possible to move around as well from one area of social work to another.

Chipperd holds an LCSW (in some states it is called an LICSW) and she does therapy and she explains what she had to do to get that license--which required extensive supervision while she was getting it.

I have an LASW (Licensed Advanced Social Work). I did not want to go into private practice, I only worked for an agency. I was required to be supervised for a minimum of 3,200 hours to get my LASW license. Eight hundred hours had to be in direct client contact. Ninety hours had to be supervised by a licensed social worker who had been licensed for at least two years. While I was getting my LASW I worked but under the supervision of either a LCSW or LASW. The agency billed for my services, prior to having obtaining my LASW, at a reduced rate. Once having my LASW they billed at a higher rate. I counseled people who were dying and family members dealing with their loved ones' anticipated death.

Another thing is many states allow reciprocity, so long as your license is equivalent, you have taken the requisite tests, and had the requisite supervision. I worked in AZ, NV, WA. And I worked with other colleagues who came from other states. You still have enormous paperwork to get reciprocity, but your this profession is portable. It is important before you move that you make sure the state you want to move to allows reciprocity, and you want to make sure your license requirements are the same as the state you are moving to.

My salary when I last worked as a hospice MSW was about $60,000+ Unlike Chippered I had no overhead. I didn't have to buy malpractice insurance, rent an office, do any billing--my agency provided malpractice and did any billing. I am not criticizing Chippered at all, I just want your dtr to know the different options she has.
chipperd
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by chipperd »

+1 on all that info.
Good point on the overhead costs, which I neglected to bring up. I have always carried malpractice insurance regardless of if I worked for/supervised others or had a private practice; I'm just a cautious type I guess and know that my employers malpractice/legal will look out for my employer first and me second. Plus, I didn't think it was all that expensive.

To obtain malpractice insurance as an LCSW, one needs to join NASW ($195/year) and then obtain malpractice insurance at the NASW discounted rate of $225/year (that's for the highest level of coverage). Also, the annual license fee in CT is $195/yr.

I was fortunate with regards to private practice overhead since I know a group that had a practice and was looking to rent out by the partial day. For me this worked out to be $15/session (rent, utilities, phone, fax...all that was needed). Keep in mind, in the private practice/clinical world there is also roughly a 15-20 percent no show/no pay rate which I always considered overhead as well.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by Small Law Survivor »

Thank you all, this has been very valuable for my daughter - greatly appreciated! Small Law Survivor
69 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan: 4% WR until age 70, 3% after social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 (and M* Diehard before that) under various other names
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

40 years as MSW/LCSW here...

You have received good advice as to the benefits of an MSW, one not mentioned is that if your daughter is interested in doing mental health counseling, the MSW is the only masters level degree that will qualify her to be reimbursed by Medicare. The payments are not bad, compared to private insurance, and the number of Medicare recipients is growing.
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by clutchied »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:02 am My daughter wants to go to grad school to become a therapist, and she's explaining to me that she has two degree options: Masters in Counseling and Masters in Social Work.

We live in Massachusetts, and she wants to live and work here after graduation. She is leaning toward the Masters in Counseling, which is the only degree granted by a one particular grad school in the Boston area. I'm reluctant to name the school in this post (but will disclose in a direct message). Not sure why, just my instinct.

I am completely unfamiliar with these degrees and this profession, and I'm having a difficult time advising her. If anyone here can help me understand and compare these degrees, so I can advise her more effectively, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
a master's in social work is a much more versatile degree and you can do counseling as well.

I would not recommend the other degree unless there is a clear path to work articulated and supported by the school.

LCSW's are widely respected and have broad career openings.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: "Masters in Counseling" vs. "Masters in Social Work" (Massachusetts)

Post by Doom&Gloom »

clutchied wrote: Wed Dec 26, 2018 8:59 am
Small Law Survivor wrote: Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:02 am My daughter wants to go to grad school to become a therapist, and she's explaining to me that she has two degree options: Masters in Counseling and Masters in Social Work.

We live in Massachusetts, and she wants to live and work here after graduation. She is leaning toward the Masters in Counseling, which is the only degree granted by a one particular grad school in the Boston area. I'm reluctant to name the school in this post (but will disclose in a direct message). Not sure why, just my instinct.

I am completely unfamiliar with these degrees and this profession, and I'm having a difficult time advising her. If anyone here can help me understand and compare these degrees, so I can advise her more effectively, it would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
a master's in social work is a much more versatile degree and you can do counseling as well.

I would not recommend the other degree unless there is a clear path to work articulated and supported by the school.

LCSW's are widely respected and have broad career openings.
+1
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