How is Clinical Psychology Different From Social Work?

Many individuals observe similarities between the job titles of social work and clinical psychology. After some consideration, they are left wondering, “How is clinical psychology different from social work?” Taking a look into the degrees, certifications, and work involved in both fields answers the question.

Educational Differences

The educational requirements for each of these professions differ considerably. While a social science worker is eligible to obtain employment as a direct-service social worker, a clinical psychologist must obtain a Doctorate in Psychology which is a minimum of eight years of study and complete a minimum of one year of internship before becoming eligible to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. After passing that national exam, other exams at the state level follow before any licensure or certification occurs. Though the position of a clinical social worker, which confers the graduate the right to perform some therapy, does require a master’s degree, the graduate of that program is still relegated to an assistant role when performing psychological therapy.

Work Prospects

Psychologists are increasing in demand. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for psychologists is rising at a steady rate of 14 percent annually, and the future looks to show a greater demand. Sociologists can expect a job rate growth of 12 percent annually for the foreseeable future, which is a higher rate than most jobs but significantly lower than that enjoyed by psychologists. The salaries vary considerably between the two fields with an average psychologist receiving nearly twice the compensation of the average sociologist. The wage reflects a higher level of education and responsibilities that are part and parcel with the clinical psychologist position.

The Difference in Work

Although it appears that both psychologists and sociologists work with people and therefore perform the same tasks, that appearance is deceptive. Social workers have a primary responsibility to work with families and individuals to improve their quality of life. Most social workers work with those who are underprivileged, struggling to make ends meet, and unfamiliar with the process to find help. Social workers understand the inter-relationships of personal growth, community diversity, and ethnic discrimination. It is the social role of these public servants to instruct on the “how to” of success which can move the effort from the struggling individual to a successful life in a vibrant society. Social workers fill out forms to obtain food stamps, make medical appointments, work with schools to provide breakfasts and lunches for children in need and recommend those who have coping difficulties to the resident clinical psychologist.

The clinical psychologist also works with those who are struggling, but their work is on a one-on-one basis and involves the well-being of the mind rather than social contexts. They can perform psychological tests and determine the extent of psychological damage while prescribing further treatments.

Related Resource: 10 Best Deals: Master’s in Clinical Psychology Online

The Difference

While social work is a demanding field with several categories of expertise involving the physical structure of communities and the place individuals hold in the neighborhoods, clinical psychology deals with the mysteries of the mind. Social work observes the pitfalls and obstructions to families attempting to survive in a hostile world without the necessary tools, and clinical psychology works to develop coping techniques in individuals who suffer from a myriad of psychological issues. That is the principal difference between the vision of a social worker and a clinical psychologist.