Social Work vs. Counseling: What is the Difference?

Reviewed by: Megan Kelly, MA, LMHC

Social workers and counselors both play vital roles in helping people live full productive lives. However, social workers and counselors have distinct responsibilities, as well as different educational requirements, salaries, and career prospects. Here are some things to consider for a career in social work vs. counseling.

Social work and counseling require similar skills and roles that can overlap. In many respects, these roles complement and support each other. Social work can lead to the counseling people need, and counseling can lead to the social services people need. Social work and counseling can work together to make lives more productive. 

In general, counseling focuses on assessing, treating, and advising people about their emotional or behavioral concerns and helping them meet goals. Social work helps people access the resources they need to make meeting their goals easier.

Consider an online counseling program: Syracuse University’s CSWE-accredited online Master of Social Work program is preparing the next generation of social work leaders. Learn more.
MA in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine