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About Patient Care Services

Introduction to Social Work at Mass General

Clinical social workers are licensed mental health professionals trained to help people find solutions to many problems- from daily issues to life's most difficult situations. We accomplish this through a unique combination of counseling and direct connection with the network of community resources. Social work services are private and confidential.

Clinical social workers work with both Inpatients and Outpatients and their families to:

  • deal with crisis
  • cope with illness and other life stressors
  • identify and solve problems with relationships
  • enhance communication with the medical treatment team to enable patients and families to be active partners in their own healthcare
  • access hospital and community services


All social workers are licensed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and regulated by the Board of Registration in Social Work.

Social Work Assessment

Clinical social workers assess patients with social, emotional, interpersonal and socioeconomic issues. Social workers are legally required to report suspected cases of abuse and neglect of children, the elderly and disabled adults. Areas of assessment include but are not limited to:

  • Adjustment to chronic and catastrophic illness
  • Adjustment to procedures and treatment
  • Ability to follow medical regimen
  • Family functioning and communication
  • Social and/or financial concerns
  • Personal safety including abuse, neglect, violence
  • Mental illness/emotional distress
  • Substance abuse
  • Adjustment to loss/bereavement
  • Cultural, religious, and language needs
  • Occupation and/or school performance

Social Work Interventions

Interventions may be with patients, families, non-related caregivers, hospital or community personnel.

These may include:

  • Psychotherapy (individual, couples, families, group)
  • Psychosocial Counseling (e.g., adjustment to illness, bereavement)
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Care Coordination
  • Brief Therapy
  • Relaxation/Guided Imagery
  • Cognitive/Behavioral Therapy
  • Personal Safety Planning
  • Information and Referral
  • Psychoeducation (patients, families, community groups)
  • Stress Management
  • Advocacy
  • Programs (e.g., HAVEN, Violence Intervention Advocacy Program [VIAP], Network for Patients and Families, etc.)
  • Consultation

Social workers are available to Mass General inpatients and outpatients through walk-in services, scheduled appointments, or by request.

Social workers are on-site 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., seven days a week, including holidays. There is a social worker on-call for emergencies after hours.


Social workers collaborate with Mass General/Partners providers and staff as well as community programs to assure delivery of comprehensive patient/family focused care. In performing the biopsychosocial assessment/evaluation and treatment, social workers obtain and share, as appropriate, additional information from other providers within the hospital and larger community. Releases of information are obtained as required by law. If the evaluation/treatment process reveals findings that are outside the scope of the social worker's practice, the social worker refers the patient/family to an appropriate discipline or resource.




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