What is the Difference Between a Social Work Degree and a Psychology Degree?

What is the difference between a social work degree and a psychology degree?

Psychologists and social workers are dedicated to helping others. Although the end goal is the same, there are significant differences between the two fields. In social work, professionals work within the social service system to find solutions to problems such as poverty and emotional or mental health. Psychologists are more likely to use their training and education in the human mind and human behavior to diagnose mental health issues and provide psychotherapy and other treatment. The differences between the two fields begin with degree program requirements.

Social Work Degrees

Social workers are needed in numerous environments, from education to government agencies. In both private and public sectors social workers help children, adolescents, and adults through community outreach organizations, in substance abuse facilities, through public government service organizations, and in the criminal justice field.

To prepare to help people, social workers begin by obtaining a bachelor's degree. Some of the courses a prospective graduate will complete may include human behavior, social welfare policy, foundations of social justice, family social work, community social work, and social welfare policies and issues. Additionally, undergraduate programs in social work require field practicums, in which students receive practical training in the field, typically through internships at human services agencies.

For many positions, candidates will need a graduate degree in social work or a closely related field. Graduate students complete similar courses to those in undergraduate programs with more emphasis on practical application and research. Visit the National Association of Social Workers at http://www.naswdc.org/ for additional information.

Psychology Degrees

Psychology degrees are often the first step in a student's pursuit to enter into the workforce as a psychologist. Courses typical in an undergraduate degree program include introduction to psychology, social psychology, cultural psychology, clinical psychology, testing and measurements, perception, abnormal psychology, history of psychology, and biological influences on behavior.

While the first step is an undergraduate degree, future psychologists need a minimum of a doctorate degree in psychology. Graduates of undergraduate degrees in psychology do have other options. Rather than continuing on to graduate school, psychology undergraduates might opt to immediately enter the workforce in human resources, marketing, or in the social services field. For additional information, visit the American Psychological Association at www.apa.org/‎.

The Social Work and Psychology Fields

The primary focus in social work is to find ways in which individuals, families, and community groups are able to improve situations with the help of various social service programs. Psychologists are also concerned with individuals in the context of society as whole; they are also trained in research and evaluation, testing, and development of methods for treatment, in addition to practical application in the mental health field.

In each field, professionals are trained and educated to handle various issues related to these groups. Psychologists are required to complete significantly more schooling, and these professionals will have more courses in the functions of the human mind in relation to mental health outcomes. Social workers, in contrast, focus more on how to formulate and implement plans in order to provide social services to those same groups. The education in each field reflects these differing competencies.

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