Providing Meaningful Support and Solutions for Families – Celebrating Social Workers

March 25, 2021

The Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at Lurie Children’s is staffed and equipped to manage the complex care of children with concurrent medical and psychiatric treatment needs. Our specialists help many young patients overcome depression, anxiety and other psychological or behavioral concerns related to their serious medical illness, as well as those children with primary mental health issues.

Each of our mental health professionals brings dedication and specialized expertise to the individualized care that every patient receives. The Department’s Licensed Social Workers are a critical part of a child/adolescent and a family’s healthcare team. They provide meaningful support and forge solutions to help patients and families coping with difficult and complex circumstances.

Partial Hospitalization and Intensive Outpatient Programs

The Licensed Clinical Social Workers in the Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Programs in the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health work with youth and their families seeking intensive treatment to provide intensive, evidence-based therapy through individual, family, and group therapy approaches. The PHP and IOP social workers are essential members of the treatment teams who partner closely with patients, families, schools, external referrers and providers, and others involved in our patients’ lives and treatments to develop individualized treatment plans that will meet their needs. In addition to their superb clinical care, our social workers are integral members of the training team and serve as either direct supervisors or key training partners to the many psychiatry fellows, psychology interns, social work interns, medical residents and students, educational interns, and recreation therapy interns to help support and strengthen the skills of our next generation of mental health and medical professionals.

Inpatient Psychiatry Unit-Psychiatric Social Workers

There are three Licensed Clinical Social Workers dedicated to the Inpatient Psychiatry Unit (IPU) with a wide range of skills to treat patients from ages 4-17 presenting with acute mental health crises (suicidal ideation, aggression, psychosis coupled with anxiety, depression, OCD, substance use, eating disordered behaviors, intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder).  The IPU social workers support patients and families throughout the child's psychiatric admission. Crisis stabilization is the focus of the acute treatment, and the IPU social workers individualize each child's treatment plan through psychoeducation, individual, family and group therapies, safety planning and discharge planning. The IPU social workers collaborate with outpatient treatment providers (therapists, psychiatrists, school personnel) and community resources to foster success in treatment.  Additionally, the IPU social workers play a vital role in supporting several social work trainees and psychiatry fellows in developing their clinical skills throughout their training. The IPU Social Workers have demonstrated great commitment, resiliency and compassion while navigating in-person treatment throughout the past year of the pandemic.

Outpatient Services Program

Clinical social workers work in our Outpatient Services Program, which provides more than 28,000 clinical visits each year. Outpatient clinical social workers provide diagnostic assessment and individual, family, and group therapies.  The social workers partner with patients and families in many contexts including in person visits in the outpatient psychiatry clinic, via telehealth visits, as embedded clinicians in many specialty divisions and general pediatric clinics, and as team members in specialty care teams including the Urgent Care Clinic and the Trauma Treatment Service.  Children are referred for a wide variety of concerns, including, anxiety disorders, psychosis, behavior problems, school problems, affective disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, developmental delay, intellectual disabilities and a range of adjustment problems.  Our clinical staff includes clinical social workers who bring dedication and specialized expertise to the individualized care every child and teenager receives. Clinical social workers review each child’s progress and refine the treatment plan as needed. Throughout treatment, clinicians may provide consultation to schools and community agencies as needed.

Psychiatric Social Workers in the Lurie Children's Hospital Emergency Mental Health Service

The clinicians at the Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health are committed to meet the needs of children and adolescents in an acute mental health crisis who present to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Emergency Department. Our clinicians are psychiatric social workers who work closely with the emergency room physicians and psychiatrists in a consultative model. Our goal is to provide our patients and families with the expertise and resources for comprehensive crisis evaluation, stabilization, and to establish the most appropriate and least restrictive follow up care.  This includes: mental health and safety assessment, crisis intervention, recommendations for level of care and referrals to appropriate mental health resources.

Center for Childhood Resilience

At Lurie Children's Center for Childhood Resilience, our social workers believe all kids of all ages should have access to adults who can address their mental health needs. Our team of social workers work collaboratively with schools, school districts and other youth-serving organizations through a public health approach to address the impact of trauma and promote mental health and wellness. Our social workers serve as mental health consultants to our partners, providing innovative, sustainable, culturally attuned, and evidence-based strategies that aim to build the capacity of our partnering teams. CCR's devoted group of social workers dedicate themselves to our mission of promoting mental health and wellness where kids live, learn and play!