If you are considering a career in psychology or social work, you may be wondering what distinguishes these two areas. While both psychology and social work relate to individual behavior, mental health and well-being, they ultimately require very different educational trajectories and licenses to practice. In addition, the roles of each are characteristic. Can I become a social worker with a psychology degree?
Psychology and social work are closely related fields, and many students who study in one direction find that they would like to work in another. Fortunately, thanks to more training, psychology graduates can switch to social work.
Social work and psychology: the basics
Generally speaking, social work and psychology have a common altruistic thread to help others. This does not mean that the differences between the two fields are insignificant, but most of the differences are found in the way this aid is applied.
Clinical psychologists work directly with patients to help them cope with life changes as well as to treat various mental health disorders. Such patients often require long-term care, so psychologists need to be able to contact their patients and gain their trust to deal with the problems as well as possible. Clinical psychologists also specialize in psychological tests and the diagnosis of mental disorders.
On the other hand, social workers help clients with a much wider range of problems. Basically, a clinical social worker serves as a guide to getting clients back on track when dealing with difficult life situations. As part of this process, they connect customers with appropriate regenerative services and advise them along the way.
As you can imagine, these career paths may intersect because social workers may need to refer clients to clinical psychologists to solve their problems.
Both social work and psychology have some similarities, but actual job descriptions vary. Social workers help people, families or communities improve their quality of life. The context of the family, community or society is always present when the social worker supports the individual. Social workers must thoroughly understand the basic principles of human development and behavior in order to conduct effective interventions. Social workers additionally help their clients overcome personal challenges, helping them develop the skills necessary to succeed, and in some cases allocate resources or funds. If a person’s range of problems goes beyond the training of a social worker, you may need to be referred to a psychologist.
Psychologists also work with those who experience problems in their lives, but usually work with individuals rather than entire families or other groups. When a person sees a psychologist, they can undergo psychological tests or advice. The psychologist can identify problematic behavior to help his patients adapt to the challenges. The primary goal of psychologists is to conduct diagnostic tests in the field of mental illness and provide therapy to their patients.
The work environment in which social workers and psychologists spend time is also quite different. While both careers can include office work, therapy, and counseling for individuals, groups and families, social workers typically work in interdisciplinary teams more often. Social workers are often away from home or visiting clients. Social workers can be found in many different locations, including rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, schools, mental health institutions, prisons, military bases and many other locations.
When making choices about your future career, you should be informed of all possible learning pathways that interest you. While social work and psychology have some similarities, they provide different forms of care for individuals and require special training and degrees. Understanding the differences between these two career paths allows you to make the right choice for the future.