Counseling LPC vs LCSW

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

  1. Paul S Rogers

    Paul S Rogers New Member

    Sorry, forget to add at the VA Medical Center (New Orleans) in the adult psy unit we had PA(s). They did the h/Ps, colead some of the groups, participated in discharge planning etc.
  2. olderstudent

    olderstudent New Member

    You might take another look at nursing. There are a number of programs now that fast-track people with a bachelor's or master's in another field. You can target advanced practice psychiatric/mental health nursing (psych NP) as your goal from the beginning.
    It is harder than you think to get hands-on clinical practice these days so many procedures are learned in simulations. This would minimize the blood-and-gore exposure for you. You would also have to do some procedures as a PA, and it might take longer to specialize in psych.
    When I went for my master's I had a BSN and was thinking of getting a counseling degree. Psych NP's have a much better outlook, maybe twice the pay, and I'm glad I made that choice. The ability to prescribe is highly valued these days, and the reimbursement is better. Another consideration is that PAs work under the direction of an MD. NPs have independent licensure in many states. The flexibility is great.
    You may get funding for nursing. Look into the difference between the DNP and the direct-to-MSN programs. It may not be as big as you think.
  3. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

  4. PatsFan

    PatsFan New Member

    I'll ask her what unit she works on. The night shift differential also helps.
  5. workingmom

    workingmom New Member

  6. olderstudent

    olderstudent New Member

    I have a colleague who was a long-time practicing master's-prepared counselor. She went back to school for the psych NP and is now able to prescribe medications while still utilizing all her original skills. I know several psychologists who have done the same thing. The DNP is relatively new and many of the schools who have not already done so will be converting from a master's to the practice doctorate.
    A big argument for the DNP is the heavy credits already in the NP master's programs. It looks like it would be easier to acquire one initially than to get a master's and then go for the upgrade.
    IMHO if you are coming from a psych/mental health background already, the NP options would seem the more user-friendly route as compared to the PA. The role changes are constant these days, and the boundaries are always shifting. The PAs I know in psychiatry really wanted their medical training and then realized they liked working with psychiatric patients. They are working in hospitals and clinics. I am not aware of any who are working in outpatient psychiatry practices so far.
  7. ymv

    ymv New Member

    California is Final State to License Mental Health Counselors

    Please check this information from the American Mental Health Counselors Association:

    "Alexandria, VA – October 12, 2009 – With today’s signing of California Senate Bill 788 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, mental health counselors are now licensed as master’s degreed mental health professionals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    "Achieving licensure in every state is a tremendous victory, both for mental health counselors and for those seeking their services," said AMHCA president Linda Barclay, PhD, LPCC/S, LICDC, NCC.

    AMHCA recognizes the efforts of the California Coalition for Counseling Licensure (CCCL), which worked actively for licensure of mental health counselors, to be known in California as licensed professional clinical counselors (LPCCs). AMHCA assisted the CCCL in its lobbying efforts, producing letters in support of SB 788 to Assembly and Senate Business and Professions Committee chairs and members.

    "AMHCA deeply appreciates the hard work of CCCL in this historic achievement," said Mark Hamilton, PhD, AMHCA executive director and CEO.

    Governor Schwarzenegger will appoint two LPCCs to the Board of Behavioral Sciences, which is already comprised of two licensed clinical social workers, a licensed educational psychologist, and two licensed marriage and family therapists. SB 788 defines "professional clinical counseling" as being focused exclusively on the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques for the purposes of improving mental health. Under SB 788, the LPCC profession does not include the assessment or treatment of couples or families unless the LPCC has completed additional training and education beyond the minimum education and training required for LPCC licensure.

    The law will go into effect on January 1, 2010. At that point, the Board of Behavioral Sciences will have the responsibility for developing the rules and regulations to implement the bill and it will prepare to accept LPCC applications."
  8. Rozelyn

    Rozelyn New Member


    Greetings workingmom,

    LPC and LCSW are great fields depending on where you are living in the country. Some states hire more LPCs than LCSWs AND vice versa. I am a counselor that resides in the state of Louisiana. I'm also a veteran and understand that the VA only hire social workers. LPC's are seeked in areas were there are not many clinical psychologist because LPCs focus more on mental health counseling and have extensive training for mental health patients; which is one of the reasons Clinical Psychologist are urging the VA to hire LPCs. LCSWs have a wonder volume of resources to help patients and are great consultants that also counsel. However, LPCs have equal access to resources, but social workers are usually hired to help patients get the resources they needed. I find that many people are not familiar with LPCs, and surprisingly many LCSWs are not as well. Both are great fields, but I'd look into both fields thoroughly. :)

  9. mattiberry85

    mattiberry85 New Member

    While at present time, the LCSW is seen as superior to LPC- personally I disagree. I find that typically MSW programs fail miserably in their training in mental health- therapy and diagnostics. If you truly want to do engage in therapy, I would urge you to do a MHC program. The LCSW is seen as more marketable, but mainly in my opinion, because of billing, this "edge" is slowly coming to an end. This perception that LCSW is better is only through extensive advocacy from NASW and not because of any actual truth. I know my comments are blunt, but just my opinion.

    If you are interested in the healthcare field, a MSN with psych concentration would be a good idea. They are paid fairly well, billable, and in reality, and have pretty good flexibility. Many facilities are hiring MSN's over psychiatrists. In my opinion, a quality MSN is nearly if not as good as a psychiatrist. But, reading your comments, this does not sound like an area that you would want to be in.
  10. Graves

    Graves Member

    Training difference aside:

    LPCs and LMFTs are starting to enter the VA, but most masters level psychotherapists are still LCSWs. The latter can commission as well.

    If you want to become a PMHNP, you need to hurry up. the DNP mandate for all nurse practitoners starts next year, and states will quickly make it a requirement for licensure. It's already in the books unfortunately. Degree inflation FTL...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2014
  11. Graves

    Graves Member

    I need to correct my last statement.

    The DNP 2015 thing is a recommendation based on national nursing agencies. It is not a mandate yet, but it will likely become one in the future. Some colleges are beginning to transition their MSN programs into DNP or PhD, but the states have not made this a requirement for advanced practice nursing yet. I guess I should still consider the Psych NP route if I am accepted into a second BSN followed by an MSN or direct entry MSN.

    Sorry for the mix up. I was a bit paranoid until I started reading about it more.
  12. mattiberry85

    mattiberry85 New Member

    The only reason that the LCSW (MSW) route is seen as "better" and allows for more marketability including reimbursements is because of lobbying, not because those trained in the social work model are better. If you want to work in mental health and be employed as a clinician, you really need to look at what will train you the best. A field that you will take extensive classes in psychotherapy and diagnosis as well as assessment, or a field that you will at best, take 2-3 courses.

    For my masters in MHC, I had to take:
    Group counseling
    Systemic Family Therapy
    Adolescent Intervention
    Counseling Theories: Affective and Humanistic
    Treatment of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
    Individual Assessment for Counselors
    Individual & Group Assessment
    3 intensive clinical placements
    Diagnosis of Mental and Emotional Disorders
    Career Counseling
    Counseling Theories: Cognitive and Behavioral
    Substance Abuse Counseling
    As well as courses in consultation, administration and supervision; ethics; research; multi-cultural counseling, and others.

    While a MSW will often include one course in psychopathology (I have seen many that don't even have this), and 1-2 courses in interventions.

    I worked in a psych hospital for three years as I was completing my bachelors (and first semester of my M.Ed.). The last 1.5 years I was assigned to the forensic unit, in which, the therapist was a MSW. She had no clue about interventions, diagnosis, or assessment. I often had to explain the difference between different disorders, as well as help her come up with group topics and materials, and help her interpret assessment results as well as explain what each assessment tool was. While, I know assessment is not a part of a MSW training or scope of practice (for the most part), they should have some knowledge of them, if they will be dealing with them. I have many, many other examples to back up this same point. 'But, to be fair, I have also met many highly skilled clinicians that are social workers. But, often these are individuals with decades of experience, and have undergone years and years of continuing education to hone their skills.

    So, while at this point and time, a MSW is seen as more marketable (mainly because of reimbursement), that is changing.

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