A helping profession is one in which the
professional creates opportunities and empowers people (clients) in need to
improve on their standard of living and become invested in their personal
growth and development. They are on the front lines of each client’s crisis as
a gateway to a solution. Helping professions use theories as a means of
intervention and a way to understand and affect human behaviour based on common
responses to interactive environments or stimulants, such as cognitive
behaviour theory, looking glass perspective, theories of socialization, or
empty chair technique. Helping professions also implement ethical codes in
order to safeguard clients information, rights and dignity. Helping professions
can be conspicuous, like social work and psychology, or inconspicuous, like
teaching and ministry. Professionals in this field help individuals and
communities to develop substantial communication ethics- that is the notion
that human behaviours is governed by their morals, which impacts communication.
Professionals seek to develop trust and mutual respect in their relationship
with the client in order to build a foundation for the client’s acceptance of
help and improvement. Types of helping professions include: Mental Health Counsellors, Marriage
and Family Therapists, School and Career Counsellor, Special Education Teachers
and Rehabilitation Counsellors.
People involved in helping profession ultimately seek to cultivate the client’s
mental, emotional, physical and psychological well-being into an acceptable
standard of behaviour and lifestyle. Within the field of helping professions
there are a myriad of different disciplines which people may enter. These
disciplines can be compared and contrasted because of their similar yet
different natures. Two such disciplines are social work and counselling.

According to the Canadian Association of Social
Workers, Social
work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups and
communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being. It aims to
help people develop their skills and their ability to use their own resources
and those of the community to resolve problems. Social work is concerned with
individual and personal problems but also with broader social issues such as
poverty, unemployment and domestic violence.

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According to the American Counselling
Association, Counselling can be defined as ‘a professional relationship that
empowers diverse individuals, families, and other groups to accomplish mental
health, wellness, education and career goals.” Counselling can take the form of
rehabilitation as well as future planning however it is generally geared
towards having people setting sustainable goals which promote a healthy mental
state as well as safe and secure life style. Counsellors have to be completely
objective and non-judgemental when attempting to aid their clientele.

With both fields having similar mandates it becomes easier
for them to be compared and contrasted as we take a look through the
similarities and the differences of the two disciples.

Both Counselling and Social work will require some form of theory
implementation to aid in mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and
intellectual rehabilitation. In the case of counselling, however, the therapy
may be more comprehensive; in that there is less tangible intervention and more
of a renewing of the mind. Both careers are geared towards having people adapt
towards their environment and improving their overall state into one which is
more productive or stable. Social Work however also focuses on the
environment’s response to the individual, based on the theory PIE (Person In
Environment Perspective). Both careers may explore different methods in helping
people to develop their lives, but they are still working towards a common
goal.

 Both Social Work and
Counselling sessions occur in a confidential setting, meaning that whatever is
discussed during the session will not be revealed to anyone outside of the
session unless the client is informed and has consented (with exception in
Social Work- such as child abuse). Through this people are able to feel more
comfortable and be more willing to cooperate as their privacy will not be
violated.

Both fields also do extensive work in
reintegration for areas such as behavioural misconduct as well as substance
abuse. The activities for both professions often times overlap as both helping
professions are geared towards improving the culture, mind-set and environment
of an individual that may lead to the addictions. It is important to note that
a social worker may perform the responsibilities of a counsellor but a
counsellor cannot perform the responsibilities of a social worker, as a social
worker has a wider range of responsibilities than that of a counsellor.

A counsellor may be focused more on giving
clients methods to solve their problems however a social worker will be more
likely to work alongside the person to have them join a program which may aid
them in their problems. A social worker also provides various services to
his/her clientele such as employment assistance, recommendation to
rehabilitation programs, placing people on social welfare programs, aiding
others in getting accepted to educational institutions. These are a few of the
services which are offered by a social worker, while a counsellor will do work
more along the lines of substance counselling, marriage counselling, couples
counselling, stress counselling. The work of the social worker is essentially
broader however it does comprise the functions of a counsellor.

Both Counselling and Social work having
overlapping responsibilities which makes them easily confused, in fact a
qualified clinical social worker is able to find employment in some counselling
fields. With similar mandates of aiding those in need and improving their social
and mental condition, it can be concluded that all professions in the helping
profession overlap in one way or another thus ensuring that there is a constant
labour force of people working towards the betterment of others. The main
difference between Social Work and other helping professions is the Theories,
the code of ethics and the approach to the problem.