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Master's in Social Work or Mental Health Counseling?

​​Thank you for your interest in our graduate Social Work and Counseling programs. You are right to ask a bit more about the distinctions in the Social Work and Counseling professions – especially before you dive into a career path. The two professions have several similarities as well as unique characteristics. Licensed Mental Health Counselors and Licensed Clinical Social Workers often end up working side by side in practice. What differs is their academic preparation. Social Work students are prepared from an ecological model and Mental Health Counselors are trained form a wellness model. Take a look at the courses in the MS CMHC and MSW programs as an example. Also, you may want to review sample course syllabi to get a good sense of topics addressed in the programs’ courses.

Social Work

Social Workers provide psychotherapeutic services (including diagnoses and treatment) within a wide range of practice settings and with diverse client populations (for example, in mental health centers, schools, prisons, substance use treatment programs, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, the military, programs that serve veterans, and independent practice, among others). Social workers also help people locate services, apply for benefits, and navigate social service agencies. In addition, social workers are actively involved in efforts to advocate for systems and policy change and challenge social injustice. Licensed clinical social workers can bill a wide range of private and public health insurances for their services, and are among the limited group of behavioral health professionals authorized to bill Medicaid and Medicare. The link below gives information on the profession of social work:

What do social workers do?

You can find more information about the RIC Master of Social Work Program HERE.

Mental Health Counseling

Mental Health Counselors are prepared to:

  • promote mental health wellness;
  • provide assessment, diagnosis and psychotherapy for the treatment of behavioral, emotional, addiction and mental disorders for individuals, couples, groups, and families;
  • engage in consultation, program evaluation, and counselor supervision.

Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC) are trained to provide individual and group counseling with children, adolescents, adults, and families in a variety of roles and areas, including: community and government agencies, human service organizations, hospitals and residential treatment facilities, Veterans Affairs clinics and the Military health system, private practice, and other health and wellness settings. Clinical mental health counseling is a proactive mental health profession that treats mental illness, addresses life distress and adjustment issues, and facilitates wellness in individuals, families, and other contexts.

The link below gives information on the profession of mental health counseling:
What do Mental Health Counselors do?

This link provides more comparison of the professions of Social Workers and Licensed Mental Health Counselors HERE.

You can find more information about the RIC Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling RIC page and RIC MS CMHC program site​.​

Page last updated: September 30, 2019