What role do social workers play in the treatment of epilepsy?

Social workers are valuable members of your treatment team. Their varied role may include any of the following functions:

  • Educating the patient and family about epilepsy
  • Providing community outreach education programs
  • Assisting in identifying and obtaining resources such as special education programs, respite centers (where a child or adult with special needs can spend some time so that caregivers can rest), home health aides, medical insurance benefits, vocational rehabilitation centers, and referrals to psychologists and other mental health workers
  • Helping persons with epilepsy who have experienced discrimination by referring them to advocacy groups such as the local Protection and Advocacy Service, Legal Aid Society, an attorney specializing in this subject, or The Epilepsy Foundation
  • Informing doctor about issues that may have a bearing on medical problems
  • Helping in crisis situations by referring patients to doctors or epilepsy centers
  • Functioning as counselors or therapists, with fees substantially below those of psychologists and psychiatrists.

What benefits can patients receive from counseling sessions with social workers?

The counseling sessions provide an important place for persons with epilepsy to discuss social and personal issues that the physician may not have time or expertise to address. Counseling sessions may be especially beneficial for children, helping them to understand issues of independence, maturity, and personal growth. Sometimes social workers help to identify when parents' overprotectiveness is adversely affecting a child with epilepsy. They are also used to sort out other domestic issues. In general, counseling sessions help to discuss, put in perspective, better understand, and cope with troubling issues that somehow relate to or affect the treatment of epilepsy.

 

Authored by: Steven C. Schachter MD on 10/2013
Reviewed by: Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 10/2013
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