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Clinical Social Workers and Professional Therapists in Denver

Clinical Social Workers and Professional Therapists in Denver


stock image of woman drinking coffeeWhat is the difference between a licensed clinical social worker and licensed professional counselor or therapist?

The short answer to this, from a clinical perspective, is that there are more similarities than differences.

Both sets of professionals earn Masters degrees (e.g., Master of Social Work vs Master of Psychology). Both degrees require approximately 2 years of academic work accompanied by a year-long internship or supervised externship in which additional clinical experience is gained. Both require passing state licensure exams. In order to acquire insurance credentialing, additional standards must be met which also are quite similar for LCSWs and LPCs, such as keeping the state license in good standing, having at least 2 years of post-licensure experience, and acquiring malpractice coverage.

Let’s consider additional options that are distinct from outpatient private practice but which are similar for LCSWs and LPCs:

1. School Counselor: An LCSW or LPC may practice counseling skills here, too, but in this instance clinical work is limited to children and their parents, especially within the context of school functioning.

2. Hospice Care: This also is somewhat clinical in nature but more focused to one area than outpatient private practice, and both LCSWs and LPCs may engage in this type of work.

3. Community Therapist: Community therapists organize activities such as volunteer networks, coping with natural disasters, and fundraising, and both LCSWs and LPCs are qualified to engage in this type of work.

4. Medical and Health: Both LCSWs and LPCs may work in hospitals to help patients recover more easily; to help coordinate family efforts and interactions; and by connecting patients and their families to available resources.

Outpatient private practice involves the use of clinical interventions and assessment procedures to relieve people of emotional, relationship, familial, addictive, and other such forms of human suffering. A broad range of skill and training is required for an LCSW and an LPC to be competent in this field.

The types of problems and disorders that may be treated by these professionals is extremely broad. Some specialize in the treatment of children, even children as young as 3 or 4 years of age. Others prefer working primarily with families, and therapists with this preference typically have additional training and experience not only with family therapy but with problems specific to children and adolescents as well.

On the subject of adolescents, some therapists prefer working primarily with teens. Other prefer couples counseling and marriage therapy. Disorders specific to adults also are wide ranging and include depression, panic disorder, phobias, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, trauma, PTSD, attention deficit disorder, and many other issues and problems.