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What is a Social Worker?

A social worker is a professional trained in the treatment of social and emotional (psychosocial) concerns.

What services does a social worker provide?

A social worker provides psychosocial services to patients, families, and care partners facing the impact of their cancer diagnosis or other health care difficulty. Social workers are an integral part of the health care team. They work with other hospital specialists to contribute to your overall treatment plan. They provide:

  • Individual, family, and group counseling to help with coping and adjusting to lifestyle changes
  • Referrals to local community and national organizations and support groups that offer information and support to patients
  • Lodging information
  • Information about financial assistance programs including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and other programs
  • Information about employment and disability benefits
  • Assistance with governmental agencies and programs that help people with disabilities, including the Social Security Administration and Medicare
  • Advocacy (They strive to ensure access to needed information, services, and resources.)
  • Psychosocial research

Assessment

Social workers complete a thorough psychosocial assessment to help identify your needs and concerns, as well as those of your family members and significant others.

What type of training does a social worker have?

Social workers have a Masters in Social Work (MSW) degree, which provides theoretical knowledge, clinical expertise, and practical experience with patients and families. In addition, social workers receive specialized training in cancer care. The letters LISW (Licensed Independent Social Workers) after a social worker’s name indicates the social worker has received a higher level of specialized training.

This information was adapted in part from the Association of Oncology Social Work (AOSW) Standards of Practice and the National Association of Social Worker (NASW) publication, "The Power of Social Work"

References

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 2/15/2011...#10417