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 medical diagnosis or other health care difficulty. Social workers are an integral part of the health care team. They work with other hospital specialists and 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


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 might receive training in an area of specialized 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.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/08/2019.


  • National Association of Social Workers. Health. (https://www.socialworkers.org/Practice/Health) Accessed 8/20/19.
  • National Association of Social Workers. Careers. (https://www.socialworkers.org/Careers.aspx) Accessed 8/20/19.
  • Social Workers. Bureau of Labor Statistics. www.bls.gov/ (https://www.bls.gov/) Accessed 8/20/19.
  • Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage & Family Therapist Board. Social Work Information. (https://cswmft.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/cswmft/preparing-for-a-license/social-workers/social-work-information) Accessed 6/24/20.

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