Licensed Clinical Social Worker Can Help Stress

A social worker in a session with her client.
Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

Not all mental health professionals carry the same degrees and licenses, and this can be confusing when you are seeking professional help with stress. You may find it helpful to see a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a family therapist, an LCSW, or another professional counselor who works with mental health issues.

You can also seek health from a life coach or wellness coach, although the licensing requirements are not standardized in this field, and they do not treat mental health conditions. They focus on problem-solving, setting goals, and reaching those goals.

What LCSWs Do

If you seek help from a licensed clinical social worker (often called an LCSW), you will likely be working with someone who will have either an M.A., an M.S. or a doctoral degree in social work, and licensure or professional supervision that allows them to provide individual, marital, couple, family, and group counseling and psychotherapy from a social work orientation.

Llicensed clinical social workers are qualified to assess, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional conditions and addictions, but cannot prescribe drugs.

How They Can Help With Stress

As with any therapist or counselor, a good licensed clinical social worker can help you to examine your situation and your role in it, process your emotions, and pursue new courses of thought and action that can lead you to more positive outcomes. 

Social workers come from a perspective of viewing your situation by seeing you as an individual interacting with your environment, rather than primarily as a part of a system or relationship dynamic, for example, or through the lens of unconscious motivations driving your behavior. This approach is known as the person-in-environment model.

They may help you to explore your situation and see how you may react differently within it; they may teach specific stress management techniques as well as discuss ways of managing overall stress; they may help you to process emotions that are interfering with your functioning; there are many ways that such a therapist can help. 

Different social workers will approach your situation in a unique way, and because everyone reading this comes with a unique set of needs, it would be impossible to detail exactly how an LCSW would work with you and your unique challenges. However, counselors who come from this background can be quite effective for stress management in general, as can counselors from other backgrounds mentioned. 

Finding a Qualified LCSW

If you would like professional help with stress, you can start with your primary care physician; asking for a referral is the first step of choice for many. Others have found success by asking friends for recommendations, particularly if therapy has been the topic of conversation in the past and the friend is a supportive one; others find that this is too personal for their comfort level. 

There are several online referral networks as well, including

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.