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I am about to start grad school (CSUN) for social work. I've been to only orientations so far but I'm really wondering if I made the wrong choice in doing an MSW rather than an MFT. My true passion is in clinical work. I'm interested in people on a one on one level and want to explore the psychology of people. and help them. That's what I'm really interested in. Although I care about social justice, it's just not what I want my focus to be on. I'm concerned that this program is going to have very little of the clinical psychology/ people stuff and be much more about agencies that can help people and connecting people/ communities with these sources of help. I am interested in doing clinical social work (therapy) or possibly forensic social work. I chose to do an MSW rather than MFT because it seems there are so many more job opportunities available with an MSW. I could be a therapist and have my own practice, but also have the option to do a bunch of other things and work other places, whereas with an MFT it seems that having your own practice is pretty much all you can do. I've also heard that if I move to another state getting the MFT license there can be a nightmare, whereas the MSW licensing isn't so specific state to state. I guess from a career standpoint it makes more sense to do the MSW, but I'm worried I'm not going to be really interested in what I'm learning and won't get to go deep into what I really care about studying. I don't want to have to just "get through" a master's program.  I want to feel excited about what I'm learning.

On a totally separate note I'm also an actress and I will be continuing to pursue acting throughout grad school. My goal after graduating is to be able to act as well as work in therapy. Should I try this program out for a little bit and then switch to an MFT program if it doesn't feel like the right fit? Or should I just try to get through the MSW degree even though it's not exactly in line with my clinical interest? Any advice would be greatly appreciated

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  • 2 months later...

I went to Antioch U. Los Angeles, for an MA to work work toward an MFT.  I will say in CA, MSWs don't have THAT many more opportunities than MFTs.  MFTs get hired all the time by DMH, the VA, a number of public agencies - if that's what you want to do.  I have moved to NY and can say there are FAR less opportunities for MFTs here.  And you're right, MSWs do transfer more easily, especially because MSW has a national accreditation and MFT was a CA only thing for a long time and a lot of states have equivalents (LPCC, LMHC), but not MFTs.  So I guess it depends on your long-term plans.  Not sure this helps...

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it depends on the school and program. some MSW programs are very clinically focused and you would get the clinical training that you need from that. you can also request to be placed at clinical settings for your internship rotations. speak to your advisor about your intent and build your portfolio around that. 

a little about me: i graduated from msw from a clinically focused program and have worked at multiple agencies as a therapist since graduating. i know a lot of people in my cohort who did the same, so it can definitely be done! PM me if you want any specific tips! 

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I work with a number of MSWs and MFTs, and I would say try to stick it out in the MSW program.  There are way more job opportunities (at least in my state), more available individuals to supervise your clinical hours, and you will probably get paid more after you get licensed.  I have a friend that is an MFT in a southern state and she can't even accept certain insurances because of being and MFT vs MSW.  I would definitely work with your adviser to see if you can get clinically focused practicums and see if there are clinical electives that you can take.  I do think the MFTs that I work with have slightly stronger therapeutic skills after graduating, but it evens out as you are working on your clinical hours and gaining more experience and training through CEUs.  


Best of luck!

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