What’s the Difference Between a Social Worker and a Therapist?

What’s the Difference Between a Social Worker and a Therapist?

When it comes to mental health and emotional well-being, the roles of professionals such as social workers and psychologists play a crucial part in providing support, guidance, and healing. While both professions share a common goal of helping individuals navigate life’s challenges, they differ in their approaches, education, and scope of practice. Galvin Growth Group has both psychologists and social workers providing therapy.

Education and Training

Social workers typically hold a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW). Their education focuses on a broad range of social issues, such as poverty, inequality, and systemic injustice, in addition to mental health concerns. Social workers are trained to address clients’ emotional needs within the context of their social environment, considering factors like family dynamics, community resources, and cultural influences.

Psychologists, on the other hand, encompass a broader spectrum of mental health professionals, including clinical, school, and counseling psychologists.  They possess advanced degrees, such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree. Psychologists undergo specialized training in various therapeutic modalities, equipping them to provide focused psychological interventions.


Scope of Practice

Social workers often (but do not have to) operate within a larger system, working to address not only individual mental health needs but also broader societal issues affecting their clients. They may offer counseling, case management, advocacy, and resource coordination. Social workers are skilled at connecting clients with community services, government programs, and support networks to address the multifaceted challenges they may be facing.

Psychologists primarily focus on providing clinical interventions to address specific mental health concerns. They employ evidence-based therapeutic techniques to help clients manage and overcome conditions such as anxiety, depression, trauma, and relationship issues. Psychologists offer a safe and confidential space for clients to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, working collaboratively to develop coping strategies and achieve personal growth.


Approaches and Techniques

Social workers employ a holistic approach that considers the interconnectedness of individuals with their surroundings. They may use techniques from various therapeutic models, often focusing on strengths-based approaches and solutions that empower clients to effect positive change in their lives. Social workers emphasize the importance of social support, community engagement, and self-advocacy.

Psychologists specialize in specific therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and more. They tailor their approaches to address clients’ unique needs and preferences, delving into deep-rooted emotional patterns and providing tools to manage and alleviate distress.


Both social workers and psychologists play invaluable roles in promoting mental health and facilitating healing. While social workers address mental health within a broader social context and emphasize community resources, psychologists offer specialized clinical interventions to help individuals navigate emotional challenges. 

At Galvin Growth Group, our licensed social workers and psychologists both provide support and work within the therapeutic process. Our intake specialist will help determine which of our professionals would be the best fit for you and your family.



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Chron., The Difference Between a Social Worker & a Therapist

Psychology School Guide, Psychologist Vs. Social Worker