I've been reading lots of the threads in this forum but still have a couple questions about the curriculum/MSW school experience. I am leaning towards the MSW but am still trying to decide. 1) I am interested in being a therapist. I have an acceptance to a couple of community counseling master's programs and a couple of MSW programs that have a clinical focus. I am far more interested in the coursework of the community counseling programs. I have compared the two programs side by side and while the MSW programs I applied to are clinically focused and lead to licensure, they all still have the foundation year (the first year is general social work), which I have no interest in at all. It's the second year which is the clinical track, which has all the classes I'm interested in. I'd like to hear what people's thoughts on this are. If you want to be a therapist but are in an MSW program, how do you get through the first year which is all general social work classes? 2) What are the evaluation methods in social work? It seems from what I've heard that most of the classes have regular research papers as the main way of evaluation. In contrast, the community counseling programs rely on reflection papers rather than research papers, which I think is a lot better way to learn. The idea of writing lots of research papers fills me with dread. I've heard from some social work students that there is a lot of busywork involved. I'm really not very keen on that. I want to get down to brass tacks, not be muddling through a lot of busy work. On the other hand, the work involved in the master's in community counseling programs I've looked at (and the students there I've spoken with) have said that the work is more reflective and meaningful (rather than writing theoretical papers, for example) 3) In social work school, do students get to choose all of their field placements, the way they do in community counseling master's programs? For instance, I would not want to be placed in a substance abuse treatment center. However, I have a strong interest in working with the elderly, and would prefer field placements where I would get this kind of experience. So I'm wondering if MSW students get to choose their practica and internships the way master's in community counseling students do. I would feel very uncomfortable if I did not get to choose my practica and internships. 4) Do you have to do any kind of home visits in social work school that is outside of your field placements? I really, really do not want to do any kind of home visits. 5) How can graduates of MSW programs be as strong clinicians as graduates of master's in community counseling programs, when the community counseling students get all their 60 credits in mental health classes, whereas the MSW students only get 30 credits in mental health classes? It seems to me that this would make a big difference in how prepared you felt after graduating. Also, the community counseling grads I have spoken with have said they feel very prepared to be therapists; the MSW grads have not and have gone for additional post-graduate training for a year or two in a specific modality. It seems like 90% of all private practice therapists are LCSWs, but it seems like MSW students get less class time in terms of learning therapy techniques, interview skills, etc. I want to be a private practice therapist, but it seems like I would get much more training in therapy in a master's in CC than in an MSW program. For instance, in the master's in community counseling programs I am considering, the coursework includes psychopharmacology, interview skills, diagnosis and treatment planning, but I do not see these courses in the MSW curricula. It seems like these types of courses are essential in being a therapist, so why doesn't it seem like clinically-oriented MSW programs offer these kinds of classes? I just want to graduate being the strongest trained clinician I can be, and while it seems like the job prospects are better with an MSW, it seems like you're a better trained clinician with the master's in counseling degree. So how do LCSWs reconcile the fact that master's in CC grads have more training in therapy but they are competing for the same jobs? I'm confused about this. 6) I have spoken to a number of practitioners in the field (both MSWs and LPCs), and asked them whether I should go MSW or community counseling MA. Nearly all of them said community counseling MA, for the reason that they said that social workers who want to be therapists often end up in jobs where they are unable to focus primarily on counseling and instead end up doing case management, whereas LPCs end up doing more pure counseling in the jobs that they get. Do you think this is true? I am leaning toward the MSW anyway, because I feel it offers a broader array of job options. 7) I'm wondering about whether or not I will be a good match for the social work philosophy over the master's in counseling philosophy. My understanding is that social work's orientation is person in environment, and I'm not exactly sure if there is an overall unified orientation to counseling. However, I am interested in being a private practice therapist and I guess the approach of clinical psych interests me the most--diagnosis, treatment planning, working with people with more severe mental health issues/a more medical based approach. I'm wondering whether social work or a master's in counseling would be more in line with my interests. Overall, I much prefer the coursework in master's in community counselor programs, but it seems like the state I'll be moving to is much more MSW friendly. There are hardly any LPCs in private practice, judging from what I've seen on the Psychology Today find a therapist feature. Also, the state social work chapter is far larger and has more going on than the state LPC chapter.