Counseling LPC vs LCSW

Discussion in 'Nursing and medical-related degrees' started by workingmom, Nov 23, 2008.

  1. workingmom

    workingmom New Member

    Just curious if anyone on here is in the mental health field and has an opinion on the future, looking about three years out, of the LPC vs. LCSW utilization.

    I am more interested in psychology and biology of individuals vs. groups. If I was about 10 years younger I may go the full PhD route; however, time and money are now issues :)

    I think I would prefer studying Masters in Mental Health Counseling (or similar degree) vs Social Work. BUT a lot of internet research indicates that the later is more versatile and hired more often. I have seen legislation with the LPCs are seeking equal footing with the LCSW at the VA and with Medicare, which will probably help some. I guess that's the short of it - do you think the two licenses will be on equal footing in a few years?

    Any input here?

    Also I wouldn't mind teaching at the community college level or online adjunct at some point (I've worked from home for over 3 years now - and have taught skill related seminars which I enjoyed).
  2. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    IMO as a LICSW (aka LCSW) this license is appealing for the reasons you suggested, reimbursement by Medicare and a perception by the psychiatric and/or medical community that it is a better license. I think Social Work's national organization, the NASW, is also a significant factor and force to be reckoned with as they adcocate for the profession. Social Work also has a long history of providing psychotherapy that dates back to treating WW I vets for shell shock. If you wade through the social work jargon in the catalogs you could probably find an MSW program that would meet your needs. IMO from working with LMHCs (aka LPCs) the professional preparation is very similar. I think in time licensed master's level counselors will be given the same respect as licensed clinical social workers. IMO you can't go wrong with either license. Good luck.

    PatsFan, LICSW
  3. workingmom

    workingmom New Member

    Thank you for your professional input PatsFan, and your encouragement that both degrees are worth pursuing. I know which one I prefer but if I could find a clinically focused SW school I was able to attend AND if the license is better, then I have to strongly consider it. IF the licenses will end up being roughly the same in a few years time, I'm inclined to go LPC.

    At this stage in the game, determining where to finish my Psych Bachelor's, I need to determine the requirements of potential grad school programs (which in turn will help determine the best route to finish my undergrad - more traditional school which offers distance learning or a big 3).

    All input helps from those who work in or are familiar with this field.

    Thank you!
  4. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    While I believe the clinical social worker's license and the licensed counselor's credentials will indeed be treated equally in a few years in most places, I have noticed that some states currently pay social workers more than LPCs. This is true in CT. If I were you I would look into that issue in the state(s) where you plan on residing.

  5. BlackBird

    BlackBird Member

    With all due respect to the Patsfan...

    I don't think that the academic preparation of Social Workers is as good as the Mental Health/Profesional Counselor. Yes, the Social Worker lobby is extremely powerful but that does not mean they are better clinicians of individual or family therapy. If you compare our required courses, the mental health training is similar to the Clinical Psych training and you could say it is like a mini-Clinical Psych degree. It is better apt to individual, family, career, substance abuse than the Social Work degree. Most clinicians I've known see Social Workers as "paper pushers." Since they have Medicare status then they are put in charge of doing Medicare paperwork and therefore psychiatrists and hospitals see them as sources of more $$$$$$$. I'm not saying that Social Workers cannot be good individual, couples', and family clinicians but that requires going out of their academic training to acquire this expertise.

    That said, if you work for someone then the Social Worker makes more. If you have a private practice, I would go the other direction.
  6. CordtheSeeker

    CordtheSeeker New Member

    LPC vs LCSW

    I thought I would add my 2 cents......

    I'm a recent LPC in the Northern Virginia area. I work at a large county mental health organization. Many of my co-workers are LPCs such as me, as well as LCSWs and unlicensed Psy.D. holders. We are all given the generic term 'Mental Health Therapist.' We work the same type of job with similar populations (e.g. outpatient clinic with SMI clients). We are all paid the same (which is pretty well but unfortunate for the Psy.D.s since they tend to have a much heavier school loan debt). I have encountered very little difference between our clinical effectiveness with our clients and educational backgrounds. I truly believe personality and experience have a greater influence on the efficacy of treatment than educational background.

    My advice...forget the stupid petty politics you'll find in this field...go with the program that interests you the most!
  7. BlackBird

    BlackBird Member

    Here is a comparison of both degrees:


    o 501 Social Welfare Policy and Services (3 credits)
    o 521 Social Work Practice I (3 credits)
    o 524 Social Work Practice II (3 credits)
    o 572 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I (3 credits)
    o 573 Human Behavior and the Social Environment II (3 credits)
    o 581 Social Work Research I (3 credits)
    o 591 Field Education I (3 credits)
    o 592 Field Education II (4 credits)
    o 621 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Individuals (3 credits)
    o 622 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Families (3 credits)
    o 622 Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice with Groups (3 credits)
    o SW 625 Seminar in Professional Social Work Practice (3 credits)
    o 640 Advanced Social Welfare Policy and Analysis (3 credits)
    o 651 Psychopathology (3 credits)
    o 682 Advanced Research (3 credits)
    o 691 Field Education III (4 credits)
    o 692 Field Education IV (4 credits)
    Elective Courses
    o 525 Community Organization (3 credits)
    o 527 Social Work with Addictions (3 credits)
    o 543 Social Work and Spirituality (3 credits)
    o 556 Social Work Practice with Aging Individuals & their Families (3 credits)
    o 558 Social Work Practice with Women (3 credits)
    o 615 Social Work Practice with Family Violence (3 credits)
    o 617 Social Work Practice with Adolescents (3 credits)
    o 642 Social Work Practice with Children (3 credits)
    o 643 Crisis Intervention (3 credits)
    o 645 Human Sexuality (3 credits)
    o 646 HIV/AIDS Related Social Work Practice (3 credits)
    o 654 Contemporary Social Work Practice with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons (3 credits)
    o 655 Ethnic Sensitive Social Work Practice (3 credits)
    o 672 Social Work Practice and Major Mental Illness (3 credits)
    o SW Social Work Practice with Immigrants and Refugees (3 credits)

    Mental Health Counseling Academic Model
    Sixty (60) Semester Hours Curriculum

    Required Courses:
    PSY 502 Counseling Theories and Practice 3 Credits
    PSY 507 Research & Evaluation for Counselors 3 Credits
    PSY 511 Introduction to Mental Health Counseling 3 Credits
    PSY 512 Human Growth & Development 3 Credits
    PSY 570 Ethical, Legal, & Professional Issues for Counselors 3 Credits
    PSY 582 Human Sexuality 3 Credits
    PSY 584 Diagnosis & Treatment of Adult Psychopathology 3 Credits
    PSY 586 Diagnosis & Treatment of Child & Adolescent Psychopathology 3 Credits
    PSY 608 Psychological Testing for Individual Evaluation 3 Credits
    PSY 612 Substance Abuse 3 Credits
    PSY 631 Career & Lifestyle Assessment 3 Credits
    PSY 632 Social & Cultural Foundations of Counseling 3 Credits
    PSY 635 Group Theory & Practice 3 Credits
    PSY 645 Couples & Family Counseling Strategies 3 Credits
    PSY 660 Community Mental Health 3 Credits
    PSY 666 Case Conceptualization & Treatment Strategies 3 Credits
    PSY 669 Advanced Treatment Interventions 3 Credits
    PSY 680 Counseling Practicum I 3 Credits
    PSY 681 Counseling Practicum II 3 Credits
    PSY 682 Counseling Practicum III 3 Credits
  8. workingmom

    workingmom New Member


    Just curious which school the Mental Health Counseling classes you posted came from. I like that they have PSY prefixes :)

    Also, as you are both in the field and a teacher how do you think an Excelsior degree would be viewed by Master programs in general? Provided I take individual exams in key psychology classes like, Abnormal, Developmental, etc. We will most likely be moving within a few years (but don't know where) so with the exception of a few online programs (Capella and Liberty) I don't know which B&M to even inquire with.

    Thank you.
  9. Paul S Rogers

    Paul S Rogers New Member

    Well, might as well get my 2 cents worth in here. Don’t do neither, LCSW or LPC, for all the bull crap associated with post graduation supervision…3 years after your MSW, continuing education requirements, slow reimbursement from private insurance carriers and not to mention the poor pay for the amount of education required …forget about.

    Better plan: Go to nursing school get an MSN then become a Nurse Practitioner or become a Physician Assistant…you can specialize in mental health. There is more money and prestige in the above (my opinion). You can write scripts (medication), do private practice, teach at the University level etc. Nursing schools have a tremendous need for instructors.

    Those of you on this forum that are LCSW(s) or LPC(s) please don’t be offended. This is merely my opinion. I based these opinions on thirty-five years of experience as both a social worker and registered nurse working in the mental health field. That experience runs the gambit from field instructor to workshop presenter/lecturer, teacher, and supervisor for licensure.
  10. BlackBird

    BlackBird Member

    I got the Social Work listing from

    I got the Mental Health listing from

    I don't think that you will have any problem using your Excelsior degree to get you into a good Masters level program. All you need to make sure is what school do you want to attend. Some require a general bachelors degree and others require you to have some basic psych courses such as Intro to Psych, Human Growth and Development, Research Methods/Stats, etc. Excelsior, due to having regional accreditation makes it easier to get accepted into grad school.

    If you are looking at Liberty check also Regent University in Virginia.
  11. BlackBird

    BlackBird Member


    I would have to agree with you. Nurse Practitioners make big bucks!!!

  12. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    Good advice (if you can stomach the site of blood, vomitus and other bodily fluids). ;)

    BTW, you can begin working as a Psychiatric Nurse as soon as you have your ASN (Associate of Science in Nursing) degree. You can keep going to school (there are a bunch of online BSN and MSN programs) and eventually get your NP license.

    Becoming a Physician's Assistant will likely be much more difficult, due to the fact that PA schools are very competitive regarding admissions (not saying that you couldn't do it, just trying to add a bit of realism here!).

    Keep in mind that NPs may have private practices while PAs may not (they must work under the supervision of a licensed Physician).

    Good Luck!
  13. workingmom

    workingmom New Member

    As I said, I welcome all advice :)

    I actually have entertained PA or OT, I've summarized and analyzed medical records for legal reasons for years and am interested in health on an intellectual level - but I couldn't do nursing. I couldn't personally stick someone with an IV, draw blood or cath.

    But I agree nurses are in demand and can have a versatile career, I just personally wouldn't be a good fit - story of my life - my skills and interests usually don't line up with where the $$$ is :)

    And thanks for the program links Blackbird.
  14. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Nurse Practitioner education is changing by 2015 you would likely need a proffesional doctorate not a masters degree.

  15. workingmom

    workingmom New Member

    That's the way all things are heading it seems. Audiology, Pharmacy, Phyisical Therapy (can't imagine OT will be far behind). PA is still a Masters - but we'll see how long that lasts.
  16. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    In my opinion, I think the whole "degree inflation" phenomenon is getting out of hand. I think the U.K. has the right idea. In the U.K. one can still become a Physician with a Bachelors degree.
  17. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Incidentally, I have been told by a PA friend that PAs do not practice in the area of psychiatry--yet.

  18. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    Interestingly, floor nurses sometimes make more than Clinical Nurse Specialists (Psych NPs). I know of a nurse with an Associates in Nursing who makes $100,000.00 a year (with no overtime) working the night shift of a Boston hospital.

  19. japhy4529

    japhy4529 House Bassist

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 26, 2008
  20. Paul S Rogers

    Paul S Rogers New Member

    Patsfan...WOW I need to come out of retirement...what is that, $48 to $50.00 per hour for a ANS/RN floor nurse. Is he/she working in the units i.e., ICU, CCu, SICU?

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