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Summer Institute in Primary Palliative Care

July 17-21, 2017

This week-long, half-day summer program will provide training for social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health workers, other mental health providers, chaplains, and people working with older adults in PELC primary assessment, skills and interventions needed to support patients and families as they negotiate the trajectory of serious illness.

Everyone faces the journey of illness as a patient, friend, family member, caregiver or decision maker at some point in their life. The culture at large is beginning to see small cultural changes that bring these issues to the center and increasingly, the need for mental health providers proficient in palliative and end-of-life care (PELC) is becoming clear. Mental health providers are in an extraordinary position to support patients and families as they negotiate the trajectory of serious illness, providing support, counseling, education, anticipatory guidance and assistance with care planning and decision making. Importantly, this means understanding how to meet patients and families at any point in the continuum of illness, from diagnosis through bereavement.

As such, there is a great need for training opportunities for social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed mental health workers, chaplains and anyone working with older adults, to learn PELC primary assessment, skills and interventions needed to enhance their existing practice. In this spirit, NYU’s Zelda Foster Program for Palliative and End-of-Life Care is offering a week-long summer institute for mental health providers. This course is a primer in palliative care, providing an overview of the field, digging deep in comprehensive assessment, interventions and skills, and exploring ethical and legal implications in the field. We will discuss self-care and clinician well-being in the work in hopes of creating sustainable practices. Clinicians will leave the week with an increased confidence in their ability to meet the needs of patients and/or clients across settings.

Learning objectives

  • Utilize bio-psycho-social-spiritual assessment to effectively engage and support patients and families living with serious illness
  • Increase understanding of issues patients and families face from diagnosis through bereavement
  • Identify the role of all providers in symptom management
  • Integrate fundamental palliative care principles into existing practice
  • Recognize common ethical challenges and frameworks
  • Explore issues of burnout and self-care

What we offer

  • In-person and interactive training focus
  • Expert academic and clinical faculty
  • Content tailored to working clinicians
  • Community of working professionals interested in the field
  • Continuing education credits

Program Schedule

Monday, July 17


  • Breakfast
  • Introduction and Discussion of Program Learning Goals

Introduction to Palliative and End-of-Life Care

  • Definition of terms
  • Role of mental health professionals in various palliative and end-of-life (PELC) settings
  • Role of mental health professionals in non-PELC settings, including private practice
  • Historical Perspectives on Illness, Death and Dying
  • Overview of key theoretical views and perspectives that guide the work
  • Overview of key psychosocial concepts including culture, religion and spirituality

Tuesday, July 18 and Wednesday, July 19


  • Breakfast


Practice Issues – What is the Work?

  • Assessment, including of mental health issues, prior experiences with trauma and other co-morbidities
  • Principles of Pain Management
  • Engagement, including difficult conversations and communication skills
  • Bio Psychosocial and Spiritual models of care
  • Meaning attribution – illness, pain and suffering
  • The trajectory of illness and key psychosocial issues at each phase
  • Fostering communication within families, couples, and with health care professionals
  • Transference, Counter-transference issues
  • Self-care and Compassion Fatigue

Thursday, July 20


  • Breakfast


Ethical, Legal Issues and Public Policy Issues

  • Key concepts in biomedical ethics
  • Advanced directives and decision-making, health care proxy
  • Capacity vs. Competency
  • Euthanasia and Physician assisted suicide
  • Futile care
  • Cultural and religious issues related to ethical considerations
  • Interaction of clinical, ethical, legal and organizational issues

Friday, July 21


  • Breakfast


Adult Bereavement

  • Key concepts and theoretical models
  • Dispel the assumptions of what constitutes "normal grieving"
  • Consider the recent research on mourning
  • Discuss case examples and interventions


Wrap-up and Evaluation

Zelda Foster Logo


Mornings, July 17-21, 2017


NYU Silver School of Social Work
1 Washington Square North (Entrance on University Place)
New York, NY 10003


  • Conference Registration: $600
  • Social Work CEUs (optional): $15**

**If you are an MSW and would like to earn Social Work CEUs please include the additional $15 fee to your $600 registration fee.

Note: Scholarships may be available to anyone working with older adults in the NYC area.

Low cost housing/dorm options at NYU will be available for the duration of the institute. Please indicate on the registration form if you are interested in learning more.

To Apply:

Application Deadline: June 12, 2017

If you require the NYU dorm housing, we must receive your registration by May 25, 2017.

This Program is Supported by a generous grant from the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation

For more information, contact:

Dr. Susan Gerbino
Director, Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End-of-Life Care

Continuing Education Contact Hours


New York University Silver School of Social Work is recognized by the New York State Education Department's State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers {#SW-0012}.

This organization (NYU Silver School of Social Work, 1415) is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. NYU Silver School of Social Work maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 11/11/16 - 11/11/19. Social workers should contact their regulatory board to determine course approval for continuing education credits. Social Workers participating in this course will receive 15.5 continuing education clock hours.