Mental Health Counseling vs. Social Work

Is an LCSW a therapist? Can you be a counselor with a social work degree?

Here, we compare LCSW and LPC

MSW and LPC are professions designed to help people cope with life’s challenges.

For instance, they help clients with cerebral and emotional disorders, hunger, educational problems, etc. Some tools they use to carry out their duties include direct counseling, diagnostics, self-assessment, and so forth.

Master’s in Social Work vs. Counseling

Not surprisingly, some researchers cannot tell the difference between MSW and LPC. We cannot fault them, as there are many similarities between the two professions.

You will become familiar with the differences between MSW and LPC as you read. We will also talk about the similarities that exist between them.

In the interim, let’s look at what MSW and LPC are.

What You Need To Know About MSW

Master of Social Work, its professional name, is an advanced degree in social work. The study focuses on preparing researchers for advanced social work practices.

Academics who successfully graduate in this field can work at society’s micro, macro, and mezzo levels. This means that they may practice both clinically and non-clinically.

Thanks to its study syllabus that includes both classroom lectures and field education.

What You Need To Know About LPC

The acronym above stands for “Licensed Professional Counselor.”

This profession offers mental health services to clients with psychological, emotional, and brain problems. The study focused on educating researchers on how to provide client-centered therapy.

Furthermore, LPC often works directly with individuals, couples, families, and groups for counseling services.

These services include individual counseling, crisis counseling, partner counseling, initial counseling, and group counseling.

Similarities Between MSW And LPC for Therapy

There’re several similarities between MSW and LPC. They have in common study duration, flexibility, entry essentials, academic education, and the reimbursement option.

Let’s take a peek individually.

  • Study Term

MSW and LPC are studies that you may complete within a similar timeframe. Students enrolling in full-time MSW or LPC studies can graduate within 1-2 years.

While those who enroll in both programs part-time can finish within two to four years. It all depends on your chosen study route.

  • Flexible Study option

Both programs offer flexible learning online, on-campus, and hybrid study options. Whichever option you consider appropriate, you choose it.

However, online studies are suitable for academics interested in distance learning. Secondly, studies on campus are for those who want to learn in a classroom setting.

  • Entry Essentials

To qualify for MSW and LPC, fellows must present an undergrad degree. Such degrees can be from social work, counseling, or other associated courses.

In addition, you must have a GPA of at least 3.0 to qualify for both studies.

  • Academic Training

In terms of academic training, both occupations receive solid training.

This makes it possible for them to work autonomously and efficiently. There is also room for researchers to specialize in any area they choose.

  • Reimbursement Option

You are entitled to a refund if you graduate from MSW or LPC. This means that a client insurer will reimburse your tuition costs.

Those who benefit enormously from these reimbursements are experts working in the therapeutic field. Because of this, many people desire these two study plans.

Mental Health Counseling vs. Social Work

For now, let’s look at the distinctions between MSW and LPC.

We will look at these variations with some key considerations. This includes program authentication, learning results, subject matter areas, and compensation costs.

  • Learning Outcome

Even though both occupations aim to change clients’ ugly situations, their learning outcomes vary considerably. LPC is primarily trained to deliver direct support to clients.

Conversely, an MSW is trained to develop their competencies in psychotherapy. This way, they can help clients find the necessary resources to change their circumstances.

  • Study’s Authentication

Certification for MSW and CPL is entirely different.

To become a certified MSW, you must go to CSWE-certified schools. With an advanced SW degree endorsed by this agency, you will be qualified for any social work job and permits.

However, to obtain a professional counseling permit, you will need a CACREP-certified degree. Or you can use a master’s certificate approved by MPCAC.

  • Functions

This is one element that distinguishes MSW from LPC. MSW scholars are trained to perform the following duties:

  • Help clients adapt to changes and challenges they are facing.
  • Intervene in the event of a crisis
  • Identify people and communities that require support, etc.
  • On the flip side, LPC is trained to work in the following directions:
  • Identify problems that may affect the customer’s progress.
  • Development of individualized plans to support clients in meeting their objectives.
  • Work side by side with family members to help clients succeed.
  • Assess the capacity and mental health of a client.
  • To help clients understand and overcome the issues they face.


  • Areas of Expertise

The areas of concentration of MSW are significantly different from those of the LPC.

MSW researchers may specialize in some fields, including criminology, trauma and violence, clinical social work, mental and substance abuse, gerontology, child, family, and academic social work.

In contrast, LPC may specialize in the following fields: therapy, bereavement counseling, additional counseling, and so on.

  • Compensation

When it comes to compensation, there is an enormous difference between MSW and LPC.

In the meantime, you should note that the salaries of both occupations may vary due to certain factors. They include the kind of organization, the area of expertise, and the position you occupy.

The median salary for MSW is about $50,470 per year. But if you work in an agency that pays the most, you can earn anywhere from $69,290 to $77,610.

However, LPC receives an annual salary of $46,240. Likewise, if you work at a top-paying organization, you can earn between $47, $740, and $60,060 a year.

As you read up this level, you can see that venturing into any of the professions is worth it. While both occupations are intended to help clients in need, there are differences between them.

You can use these distinctions to determine which career path is right for your goals. But before you do that, research more about the occupation you want to pursue.