SOCW 6205: Assignment: Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

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Assignment: Inpatient Psychiatric Unit

Deinstitutionalization played a significant role
in shaping the current roles of psychiatric social workers. Psychiatric
social workers work on inpatient psychiatric units and provide services
to individuals with mental illness and their families. Most inpatient
psychiatric units are unique clinical settings where doors to the units
are locked from the inside and from the outside. Patients are not free
to leave the units at will, and visitors to the units are monitored
closely. Psychiatric social workers work with patients who voluntarily
seek care and others who are involuntarily admitted. In the simplest of
terms, inpatient psychiatric care today focuses on stabilization and
referral to a lower level of care. Psychiatric social workers create,
negotiate, and implement discharge plans. They also provide limited
clinical services, usually in the form of group interventions.

To prepare for this Assignment:

Review this week’s resources. Think about the
roles and functions of a psychiatric social worker in inpatient
psychiatric care settings. Focus on practice skills. Consider the
philosophy of psychiatric social work.

In a 3- to 4-page paper:

  • Explain the philosophy that drives psychiatric social work in caring for patients with mental illness.
  • Explain the primary goals of psychiatric social workers.
  • Describe the roles and functions of psychiatric social workers on interdisciplinary inpatient psychiatric teams.
  • Compare differences and similarities in roles, practice skills, and
    functions between psychiatric social workers in inpatient units and
    non-psychiatric medical social workers in other types of medical units
    or healthcare settings.

Support your Assignment with specific
references to resources, using appropriate APA format and style. You are
asked to provide a reference list for all resources, including those in
the resources for this course.

Required Readings

Messinger, S. D. (2011). Cooperation and contention in psychiatric work. Transcultural Psychiatry, 48, 284–298.

Lanier, P., Bollinger, S., & Krueger, R. F. (2013). Advances in the conceptualization of personality disorders: Issues affecting social work practice and research. Clinical Social Work Journal, 41(2), 155–162.

OBrien-Suric, N. (2013). Social workers and their integral role in interdisciplinary team care. Retrieved from

Hudson, C.G. (2016). A model of deinstitutionalization of psychiatric care across 161 nations: 2001-2014. International Journal of Mental Health, 45(2), 135-153.

Tischler, S., Webster, M., Wittmann, D., & Wade, K. (2017). Developing and sustaining a practice-based research infrastructure in a hospital social work department: Why is it important? Social Work in Health Care, 56(1), 1-12.

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2019). NAMI Programs. Retrieved from
Note: This website can be used to find local resources and programs for individuals with mental illness and their families. NAMI volunteers often provide these programs as part of inpatient psychiatric treatment or after-care support.

Ponte, K. (2019, March 11). That time in the psych ward [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Optional Resources

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). The history of psychiatry social work. Retrieved from

Widiger, T. A. (2013). Changes in the conceptualization of personality disorder: The DSM-5 debacle. Clinical Social Work Journal, 41(2), 163–167.

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