The cancer care team: Social worker

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A social worker can help you and your family manage your social and emotional needs during cancer treatment. Find out when you or your family would talk to a social worker and why.

Key points

  • A social worker helps people and families who are dealing with challenging situations, such as a cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Social workers work with an individual or a family to find solutions to problems through counselling, teaching new techniques, helping them find services in the community and connecting them with others.
  • Talk to a social worker if you feel overwhelmed, confused or upset; when you feel like people aren't listening; when there is family conflict; or if your family is having financial trouble.

What is social work?

Social work means helping people and families who are dealing with tough situations. A social worker is someone who is specially trained to look at a person’s or a family’s social and emotional needs, and who will work with them to find solutions to problems that will help them feel less worried or anxious.

Social workers can help teens with cancer and their families by:

  • talking with or counselling them alone or as a group
  • teaching new techniques for dealing with cancer and its effects
  • helping them find other services in the community that they may find helpful
  • connecting them with other teens or people who have dealt with cancer and want to support others

A social worker may be part of the team that you see frequently. If a social worker is not currently part of your team, you or your family can ask someone on your health-care team to recommend one. You can also call your hospital’s social work department.

When would I or my family talk to a social worker?

  • When you feel overwhelmed, confused, stressed, upset, angry or otherwise just not how you normally feel, a social worker can listen and help you deal with it.
  • When you feel like people aren’t listening to you, a social worker can support you so that your voice gets heard.
  • When there is conflict in your family, a social worker can help you cope.
  • If you or your family is having trouble paying all the bills, a social worker can help you look for other sources of funding.
Last updated: September 3rd 2019