Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Medical social work, Social work with children, Art therapy for children, Play therapy, Children-Hospitals-Mental health services, Arts in psychotherapy, Childhood illness, Hospitalized clients, Expressive therapies, Pediatric oncology, Pediatric social work, Social work in health care


This study aims to determine the self-identified role of clinicians working within the medical model. Secondly, the study intends to determine if art and play therapy interventions were regularly implemented by clinical social workers practicing with hospitalized children within a pediatric medical facility. The study hopes to gauge both the clinicians' understanding of possible barriers to these interventions within the medical model, and also the clinicians' beliefs about the importance of play within pediatric hospital settings as a determining factor to patients' psychological needs during their illnesses. A mixed-methods online survey was sent to over 300 medical social workers within the United States. All 137 participating clinicians held at least an MSW and worked within a pediatric medical facility. Clinicians were asked to self-identify their primary time commitments within their current setting, their primary theoretical orientation, and their beliefs on the benefits of play, any barriers they felt existed within their current medical setting, and any examples of play techniques they utilize within the medical model. The conclusion of the study indicates that art and play therapy interventions are not commonly utilized within pediatric medical settings due to structural barriers such as time constraints, a lack of space or appropriate materials, and the lack of exiting policies that refer patients to child life specialists or volunteers for such interventions. Further, this study's results indicate that most medical social workers find that their primary role is to conduct psychosocial assessments, conduct patient and family counseling and psycho-education around illness and hospitalization, plan patient discharge, and serve as a case manager, which includes resource referrals for patients and families




iv, 75 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 65-67)