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Psychology vs Social Work

Updated on July 14, 2013

Psychology is a better profession, overall

Psychology is so much better than Social Work

Psychology has been around for many, many years. Wilhelm Wundt began the first psychological lab in 1879. Social Work didn't begin until the first World War. Psychology is the basis for all Mental Health Programs! As far as I'm concerned, Social Work is just an add-on of an already effective Social Science. Psychology has many areas of expertise; for example, Industrial/Organizational, Clinical, School Psychology, Psychoanalysis, Behavioral, Experimental, Applied Psychology, and so on. Social Workers can have the same opportunities in some instances, with limitations, it all depends on their credentials.

Great link for a list of credentials and licenses for Psychologists and Social Workers.


I have nothing against Social Workers

My husband happens to be one!

What my Husband and I Debate

. . . among a few other things

The biggest debate that my husband and I have is the amount of schooling and supervision required for licensure. To become an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) you need to have a graduate degree, supervised clinical experience, and pass a state-certified license exam. For an LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor) you need to have a graduate degree, 3 years with a minimum of 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience, and pass a state-certified license exam. These two licensures have basically the same job opportunities and pay the same. So why do psychology? Because, for 1) if it comes between your application and that of an LCSW, the higher education has a better chance, for 2) there are more credentialing opportunities with psychology, not just LCPC, and for 3) the more education you can get in this field the better!

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise

- Sigmund Freud

You've heard what I have to say, now what do you think?

Psychology is so much better than Social Work

Absolutely! I totally agree with you

Absolutely! I totally agree with you

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      As a licensed psychologist and licensed counselor, I must state that overall psychologists and counselors are better trained in mental health compared to MSW's. Overall, MSW's are not extensively educated nor trained in mental health and are grossly unqualified. These individuals who state that SW focuses more on empowering the clients and psychologists are more clinical is totally inaccurate. Yes, Psychologists are more clinically trained (and more highly trained) compared to social workers, this is a good thing, not bad. I have worked with well over 100 psychologists and never have seen one that is rigid or controlling. In fact, I would actually say MSW's are very controlling and have such a (inaccurate) sense of entitlement and that they are more intelligent compared to counselors and psychologists.. those individuals who are actually trained in the field.

    • sageinacage lm 4 years ago

      As a psychologist I am extremely happy with my career choice. Psychology is a truly rewarding field to work in. I know many social workers who would probably feel the same about their own career path so I think the key is to follow the path which interests you most.

    • rtandy 4 years ago

      I am a psychology major and the first study you posted intriged me because I am a conservative. It's not that I didn't know I am outnumbed politicaly but it astonishes me that people would be so prejudice in an intelligent field like psychology.

    • DMVAgent 5 years ago

      I have a degree in Psychology and have had worked with social workers before in dealing with people after a disaster (flash flood). Although I have nothing against social workers but I think the way they deal with the problems of other people are different with psychologists. I have observed that most of the time the catch of their conversation boils down to the tangible needs of an individual. On the other hand, psychologists, on their first approach, will try to build rapport and determine if the person shows inclination towards clinical problems. Simply put, they differ in their approach.

    • Barbara Tremblay Cipak 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      well, I was accepted and ready to go to University to become a Psychologist - and then at the last minute headed in another direction - my sister is a Social Worker (must run in the family) I tend to be the one people close to me come to, to help them sort through issues. Because I'm a psychology buff, I'm with you ;)

    • sousababy 6 years ago

      When I studied nursing and prosthetics (artificial limbs) I took courses in 'Social Psychology' of which case studies and longitudinal studies were selected for examination. Honestly, I feel the that social workers can be excellent or of 'questionable' competence. I have never (yet) met an incompetent psychologist, though. Humans are so complex, that I feel we need more (not less) education to 'treat' and care for their mental health. And, psychologists and psychiatrists (in Canada) continually upgrade their education (with the pace of changes re: cyber-bullying, family dynamics and other societal pressures) we need to stay current with the latest trends (and abuses) in society. Ten years ago, no one even heard of MMA (on-line gaming addictions - showcased in my lens about 'Our Brain'). I've met social workers who seem to be more 'messed up' than those they treat!

    • blanckj 6 years ago

      I have a small idea about the two professions because of my educational background, but I believe psychology to a bit more professional than social work. The two are very similar to me.

    • darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      This lens rings true for me- I have a diploma in social services and a degree in social work, and would much prefer I'd done psychology. Social work is incredibly tough, and underpaid in general, though I chose child protection as my specialty.

    • capriliz lm 6 years ago

      Based on your argument, I would have to agree that the higher degree will be better in the long run.

    • UKGhostwriter 6 years ago

      Yep! Psychology is so much better than Social Work

    • moonlitta 6 years ago

      Psychology covers lots more areas than social work does (though sometimes I feel they are not covered really well but psychology is still a developing science with evolving methods of research and practical uses)- this allows people to choose between clinical, social, and all other options.

    • Titia Geertman 6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      I think I have to choose yes, because I think psychology is covering more grounds than social work, at least in my country the two are not considered to be on the same (payment) level.

    No way! Social Work Rocks

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      • anonymous 3 years ago

        Clearly Matthew Berry is basing his opinion off of anecdotal evidence (and angry experiences at that) which is not very scientific. SO, first off, let me address the above article; more education is better than the LCSW, while comparing two different masters degrees? It's the same education: LCSW's also must complete 3,000 hours practicum, after 900+ hours internship during their program. As far as people stating that we do not have enough or "as much" clinical training, I would have to say it depends on the program that individual has attended. On top of this, education DOES NOT stop after your degree, I see more MSW's seeking further education and credentials post grad than LCPs and MFTs. Having said all this, there is no empiricle evidence to support the claim that A>B or C for that matter, whether it be a doctorate or masters degree, so it is a moot point. Therapists of all shapes and sizes can be incredible or terrible; it's about the individual.

      • Dominique84 4 years ago

        I find social work to be more practical- hands on and adaptive to current socio-economic situations. Yes psychology has been around for longer, but it lends itself to only those who can afford it. Social work focuses on the underlying problems within all areas of the individuals life: within the self, the home, work/school, life stage... Just my option

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        i say social work empowers the person as its main purpose is that of enhancing social functioning by giving the individual or group space to make their own decisions and to participate in solving problems on their own unlike in psychology were the psychologists acts in such a way of imposing solutions and decisions on the client

      • anonymous 4 years ago

        I disagree. I have a masters in counseling and am licensed in my state. My friend has an MSW. We have been working at the same job for the past 5 years, making the same salary. I just found out she's getting a job as a hospital discharge planner making almost $75,000 a year. An MSW is required for this job; they don't accept MAs or MEds with LMHC.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        I have done a degree in Social Work and I have had dealings with Psychologists. Honestly, Social Work empowers the person to make their own choices whereas Psychology is very clinical and works in a controlling environment. I prefer Social Workers. They have more empathy and can understand people better and are more hands on and work with the community better.

      • anonymous 5 years ago

        This is an utterly nonsensical and uninformed rant. Masters level social workers are eligible for clinical licensure after 2 years of supervised work and have limitless post grad opportunities. Masters' psych people can't even bill insurance and there are far fewer employment opportunities. To make an education in psychology worthwhile you need a PhD, and this is commonly known in the mental health field. Social work is only about 25 years "older" than psychology, so that statement was just bizarre. It gets exhausting reading peoples' comments on social work when they have no clue about the realities of the profession and who is actually licensed to do what once they graduate. Disgraceful.

      • tiff0315 6 years ago

        In response to John: There are various methods that each person chooses to practice. The one you described seems to be client-centered therapy, which can be practiced by either Social Worker or by a Psychologist. There are more directive paths in either field as well. Sounds like you have had experience with both, but with different professionals.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        I think Social Workers do better with helping individuals find a path then Psychology because social works have the clients set goals and they come up with the plan to make things better in their lives. Psychologist tell the client on how they need to change their lives and set the goals for them. Social Workers also help the cient understand that they are the professionals and they know what's best for themselves. I guess as a Psychologist the best people to work with are the people that want to be controlled.

      • MarianaFargasch 6 years ago

        I will vote for Social Work just because I have had the experience with both. Years ago I was going to see a psychologist and even though I liked him I feel he didn't really help me much. Now I am going to a Social Worker and I absolutely love her! Only been there I think 4 or 5 times and already can tell she is helping me in ways my psychologist whom I saw for months didn't. (but that's of course speaking for myself) I am sure both of them are great. But I think aside from years of studying and degrees achieved it is more about the person him/herself and how they choose to treat and go about treating you.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        Social work cannot be done without having some exposure to psychology. Social work is all about understanding and applying human psychology through practical means. They go hand in hand.

      • tiff0315 6 years ago

        Social Psychology is psychology. Not Social Work. It's the study on society, not the therapy for society. There are differences. But you are right Paul, the two are both valid disciplines.

      • Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

        The two are both valid disciplines, though there is some overlap. You can only argue the all-embracing view for psychology if you drag iand jargonise anything you want. Lok at Social Psychology for example.


      How I decided on Psychology

      Simple Inspiration

      Right out of high school and starting a new adventure in college, I didn't have a clue in the world. I played a lot in college and wasn't too serious about anything. I dated around, but somehow ended up back with my boyfriend from high school. We got married, had a baby, got a divorce. I ended up being a single mom of a two month old boy before the age of 21. I had given up on the idea of college, I had other responsibilities to think about. But late one night while thinking about my future and the future of my child, I felt inspired. Inspired to go and pursue a degree. One that was completely different than what I originally planned.


      I immediately followed the inspiration and logged into my old college website, and got enrolled for a night class, PSYCH 100. Every day that I went to school was a new inspiration. I KNEW I was doing the right thing. I wanted to help people. To help children. I wanted to be able to understand human nature and why people do the things they do. My child was an inspiration, and continues to this day.


      I later remarried the most wonderful man. Who just so happened to be a Social Worker. I forgive him, though. ;)

      We have struggles, just like anyone else, but the education that we have definitely helps us to make wiser decisions in raising our combined family and in our marriage. So, despite the debate of what degree is better, it all turns out in the end.

      Poll: Did you pass? - Number of answers correct

      How did you do?

      See results

      Poll: Final Decision

      Which is better, Psychology or Social Work?

      See results

      ..."and how do you feel about that?" - leave your comments, opinions, random thoughts, questions, anything!

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        • MariaMontgomery profile image

          MariaMontgomery 4 years ago from Central Florida, USA

          Enjoyed your lens. My undergrad major is psychology.

        • profile image

          anonymous 5 years ago

          I'm a social work major and I absolutely love it! I was thinking about going into psychology, but to be able to do ANY counseling you have to get your PHD, whereas I only need my masters to begin doing the work I want, and will eventually worked towards licensing. Also, social workers have the chance to do a multitude of jobs, such as case management, lobbying, counseling, working on social policies, and more! Social workers are often overlooked and underappreciated.

        • profile image

          anonymous 6 years ago

          @sousababy: Social work is the place for more serious problems. Because you actually go into the home and work with the whole family unlike psychologist that sit in a chair and say how do you feel about that okay lets take a pill and tell me how you feel about that next week so hard. The only thing good about psychologist they studie the brain and social workers still their information to work with clients. But there is a lot of social workers that do research just psychologist started it.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Interesting discussion! Psychology is one of my favorite subjects.

        • tiff0315 profile image

          tiff0315 6 years ago

          @Geekgurl: He thinks it's rigged LOL. Thanks for visiting and participating!

        • Geekgurl profile image

          Kimberly Hiller 6 years ago from Chicago

          Nice information! What did your husband say about the poll?

        • Brite-Ideas profile image

          Barbara Tremblay Cipak 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

          great lens, really interesting - you made me think about topics I love to think about :)

        • Charmcrazey profile image

          Wanda Fitzgerald 6 years ago from Central Florida

          This is a topic I've not thought about before. Being an accountant, we don't get out a lot :-). But for the two of you I can see how it inspires healthy debates. I learned something today, so thanks for your insight.

        • tiff0315 profile image

          tiff0315 6 years ago

          @Missmerfaery444: Let me know what she thinks!

        • sousababy profile image

          sousababy 6 years ago

          I feel social work has it's place, for less serious problems. However, whenever addictions, children or dangerous behaviors are involved, I'd recommend seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist. Sometimes, medication IS required to (re: in Canada, MDs/psychiatrists only can prescribe them). That's my bottom line (though not practical in some communities).

        • Missmerfaery444 profile image

          Missmerfaery444 6 years ago

          Very interesting! My future sister-in-law is studying to be a social worker and has also done psychology so I will have to see what she thinks too! :)

        • Glenn619 profile image

          Glenn619 6 years ago

          Good job with the lens did justice to it and was very nicely set up. :)

        • UKGhostwriter profile image

          UKGhostwriter 6 years ago

          Wow, its great to find out how much you don't know!

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          poutine 6 years ago

          I did very poorly on this quiz.

        • profile image

          poutine 6 years ago

          I did very poorly on this quiz.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Human psychology is a vast and complicated subject, and I understand why some people prefer it compared to social work. Social work is all about being on higher planes - compassion, good will and benevolence. Needless to say, it depends on how an individual applies his mind. A spiritual person can benefit from either of these fields.

        • capriliz lm profile image

          capriliz lm 6 years ago

          I am so glad that you took that first night class. Isn't it wonderful when our own children can inspire us to make a better life.

        • tandemonimom lm profile image

          tandemonimom lm 6 years ago

          Weird - it said I got 3 answers wrong, but when I looked at the answers, I had clicked the correct answers but it recorded different ones than I actually clicked!

        • JeremiahStanghini profile image

          JeremiahStanghini 6 years ago

          Even though I've studied Psychology (at the undergraduate and graduate level), I have a hard time saying it is "better" than Social Work. They're interested in different aspects of (similar) experiences, but study it in different ways. They each have their pros and cons.

          With Love and Gratitude,


        • joanhall profile image

          Joan Hall 6 years ago from Los Angeles

          Fun lens! Thank you for writing it!

        • LissaKlar LM profile image

          LissaKlar LM 6 years ago

          Very nice lens! Well thought out and I love how you have personal details mixed with facts about psychology. Great job! OK now it's my turn!

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          moonlitta 6 years ago

          No offense meant but I'd choose social work-at least in my country it means more job perspectives, while psychologists are a bit down in want (hopefully this tendency will reverse as I also happen to be one...:)

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Very interesting...both are needed for society I believe.

        • tiff0315 profile image

          tiff0315 6 years ago

          @ChemKnitsBlog2: Why not? Looks like we need another debate going. LOL

        • Titia profile image

          Titia Geertman 6 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

          LOL I had only 3 out of 10, but then half the time I didn't really know what you were talking about, as English is not my native language. Great lens and very interesting.

        • ChemKnitsBlog2 profile image

          ChemKnitsBlog2 6 years ago

          This is something I hadn't really thought about before. Hopefully your debates with your husband over this matter are fun (not stressful.) Don't even get me started on the physics vs. chemistry debating.... ;)