The field of counseling and social work continues to develop at a fast pace and, as a result, the demand for therapists is getting higher. Nevertheless, with more types of counselors and therapists available, more people get confused when it comes to receiving help from professionals. In the process of finding a licensed therapist or social worker, chances are high that you’ll encounter acronyms such as LMSW or LCSW.
LMSW, or Licensed Master Social Worker, is one of the most common social work licenses in the counseling industry. This quality gives LMSW therapists the right to provide services and therapy for individuals, groups, or communities. They generally work under the supervision of more qualified mental health professionals and offer services related to clinical social work, such as psychotherapy, diagnosis, or treatment planning.
In this blog, we’ll explain the meaning of LMSW, discuss why getting help from an LMSW therapist is beneficial, what the differences between LMSW and LCSW are, and what counseling with them looks like.
What is an LMSW?
An LMSW is a licensed master social worker, a mental health professional who has an official license and therefore, the ability to provide mental health services. LMSW therapists have already obtained their Master’s degrees in social work, and after advancing their skills, they got their license to work as social workers. Obtaining an LMSW license is required for social workers to continue their education and earn postgraduate degrees. The reason is that in most states in the US, earning specific hours of post-graduate hours is necessary to obtain a clinical license (LCSW).
Different states usually have different names for LMSW therapists, and besides, this license varies from state to state, meaning that they have their own requirements for obtaining this license and becoming a social worker.
One of the main reasons why people enjoy working with LMSW therapists is that they operate under the supervision of licensed mental health professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, or licensed clinical social workers (LCSW). Therefore, the service they provide is safe, and you have a guarantee that you’re working with a team of professionals.
Counseling with LMSW Therapists
As a result of obtaining an LMSW license, social workers are enabled to provide counseling services in most states. They usually work in different types of agencies in order to deliver therapies, counseling, or other services aimed at improving the well-being and quality of life of their clients.
Like psychologists, one of the main aims of LCSW therapists (or LMSW-C) is to help people deal with severe mental health problems such as depression, addiction, or anxiety disorders. As studies show, social work interventions are accompanied by significant positive changes in the mental health state of the clients (Proctor, 2018).
LMSWs provide different types of counseling services, such as mental health therapy, crisis intervention, counseling related to substance abuse, and more. As a result, they help their clients make positive changes in their lives, overcome concerning issues, and get the lives they deserve.
LMSW therapists work in a wide variety of institutions, including schools, hospitals, social health facilities, etc. They also provide private practice or work as counselors in mental health and counseling centers such as Health for Life Grand Rapids. They make decisions about diagnosis and treatment plans under the supervision of licensed clinical social workers (LCSW).
Some of the counseling services that LMSWs provide are the following:
- Individual therapies
- Group and family therapy
- Counseling for substance use, depression, and anxiety.
- Trauma-informed counseling
- EMDR for children, teens, young adults, and adults
- Counseling for couples, teens, and children
Requirements for LMSW Therapists
The master social worker license has specific requirements and prerequisites. People who have obtained this license have already completed years of studies and have Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work or related fields. Specifically, in order to become LMSW, mental health professionals need to have a BA degree in disciplines such as social work, psychology, or sociology. However, having a Master’s degree in social work (MSW) is necessary to obtain a valid license.
Usually, the requirements for LMSW therapists vary from state to state, but in any case, they have to take a particular exam, such as the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), to prove that they’re already qualified enough to work in the field of social work. Therefore, working with an LMSW therapist means that you’re receiving high-quality service from a mental health professional.
Moreover, in some states, e.g,. in Michigan, LLMSW therapists are required to complete at least 4,000 hours of supervised social work experience during the two years before they get their degrees. They usually work 16–40 hours per week under the supervision of someone who already has an LMSW license or a higher one. As a result, they can apply for LMSW-C licensure.
LMSW vs LCSW: What’s the Difference?
LCSW is an acronym for a licensed clinical social worker or, in Michigan, it is known as an LMSW-C (although the majority of LMSWs do not use the C, because in Michigan as long as you are past your limited license (LLMSW), then you are clear to provide therapy independently. It’s an even more advanced qualification compared to LMSW, but they have plenty of things in common. Specifically, both LMSWs and LCSWs (or LMSW-Cs) provide almost exactly the same types of services and work in the same areas. However, the main difference between these two qualifications is that an LMSW provides services such as individual or group counseling under the supervision of more advanced mental health professionals. Still, they mostly run therapy sessions on their own but receive consultation from their supervisors to make diagnoses and plan the treatment.
On the contrary, LCSWs don’t need supervisors in order to provide certain therapies and qualities. However, they have the same responsibilities and knowledge of the field of social work or psychology because they also had to obtain LLMSW before they could become LMSW-C or LCSW therapists.
Benefits of LMSW Therapists
Therapy provided by LMSW therapists and social workers, in general, is found to be effective for people with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, or trauma (Cwikel & Friedmann, 2019).
LMSW therapists are completely focused on clients and their needs, listen attentively, and treat their clients with respect. As a result, there have been numerous examples of people who work with LMSW therapists whose everyday lives have drastically changed for good.
Find an LMSW Therapist
If you’re considering receiving mental health or social work service, working with licensed master social workers is probably a great idea. At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, we have many professional therapists that work under the status of LMSW (LMSW-C) therapists and provide high-quality treatments and interventions. Don’t hesitate to contact our team and choose the right LMSW therapist based on your special needs.