I had the pleasure of interviewing Ari this week. In this interview, Ari clarifies the main differences and similarities between psychology and clinical social work vis a vis the client. In addition, he provides us with a brief introduction to hypnotherapy, one of the techniques that he uses in his work with clients.
That was great training as a behavioral modification specialist and that got me started for my next stage. I wanted to have as much input as possible in my children's education. So I took responsibility for a pre-school. The school had six children enrolled for the previous five years. I taught the teacher (later teachers) the principles of applied behavioral modification and spent a lot of time learning and meeting the needs of the families. I added to my professional perspective the importance of family and family systems.
I ran the school for a dozen years. It grew from six children to about 400 in about five years. (Today it has grown to a system with over two thousand students.) When I returned to the USA in the mid 1980's I began to work as a counselor in elementary schools.
However, I lacked a professional degree. I considered getting a psychology license but it would have meant 4 years in school and two years internship. With five children at home, the two years in social work school was more practical.
But I quickly realized that it is social work that actually fit my treatment philosophy. Psychology is more academic and research based. I love that and could be happy in that field also but while research is fun, helping people is more satisfying.
Social work is based on integration: integration of self, integration of self in family, integration into the various social structures and systems. That idea of utilizing simultaneous multiple perspectives seems essential for effective helping. And my training at the Ackerman Institute for Family Therapy crystalized the systems perspective in my work.
One other development that I should share is that since about 2003, I began to have many clients who were ex-abused adults and adolescents. Although I was never a psychodynamic therapist, I found that it is impossible to help these people without employing psychoanalytic principles.
In light of your training from both disciplines of social work and psychology, could you share your view of how clinicians from these two fields tend to be similar in many ways but are different in their orientation/emphases with their work with clients?
There are many differences between social work and psychology but they are not always apparent. That is because it mostly depends on who is looking for the differences.
From the point of view of the psychotherapy client, there is essentially no difference. That is true for two reasons. First, but less importantly, many schools of social work teach train their students in slight variations of therapeutic schools developed by psychologists. Twenty years ago, the NYU School of Social work trained people in psychodynamic therapy. That means that the veteran social workers of today had that type of training.
But more importantly, therapy is mostly about the relationship and personality. The patient is much more interested in those issues than the "technical" aspects of therapy. The relationship that helps a client is really independent from the fact that a therapist is a social worker or psychologist.
An Intro to Hypnosis from the Tulsa Hypnosis Clinic
Lastly, what career advice would you offer recent MSW graduates either looking for work or working in their first position as a licensed social worker?
I know you have a lot of newbie social workers reading your blog. It is an exciting stage of professional development. I would suggest that they see themselves as just beginning to learn.
Graduation makes you a neonate and now is the time to really delve into something exciting. Whatever job you get, there are two or three main goals to keep in mind.
First, learn as much as possible about some specialty in social work or therapy. Second, don't marry that specialty or theory, since it will not always serve you well.
And third, recognize that with a lot of hard work and good supervision, you can become really good at your profession in only six short years. (Don't worry - there will come a time when those six years will be perceived as short!)
Thanks so much, Ari, for clarifying some of the differences between the social worker's vs. psychologist's approach to helping a client, as well as for the fascinating introduction to hypnosis.
You can follow Ari on twitter @arihahn or visit his site/blog at www.arihahn.com
What questions and/or comments come to your mind regarding mental health treatment from the psychologist and/or social worker perspective? Do you have questions or thoughts about hypnotherapy?
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