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When Death Comes Knocking at the Door: Honoring End-of-Life Work in a Social Work Field Placement

Maria Chi, LCSW and Glenn Meuche, LCSW
Recorded on February 22, 2017

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About the Webinar

The universal experience of death has the potential to connect human beings on a deeper level. Yet our denial of death often inhibits human connection and relationship. The field of palliative and end-of-life care therefore presents an array of challenges to social work interns. Feelings of vulnerability surrounding our patients’ death and our own mortality can evoke a sense of helplessness and contribute to professional stress and burnout. Field placements are not always prepared to address these issues. Conversely, working within palliative and end-of-life care can afford opportunities for professional growth and for interns whose field placements are structured around an awareness of the fragility of human existence. It is the presenters’ hope to offer a model for field placements in palliative and end-of-life care. Participants will be introduced to ways in which they can embrace and cultivate their students’ “death anxiety” in order to help them develop sensitivity and empathy to their clients’ needs.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the participant will be able to:

  • Explain how to create an internship program that utilizes humanistic and existential principles, maintaining clinical acuity while honoring the human/personal dimension.
  • Demonstrate how to use the parallel process effectively to role model for students who are working with individuals who are terminally ill and (actively) dying.
  • Identify ways to address existential issues and counter-transference that may arise for interns.


Maria Chi, LCSW has 13 years of experience in the field of health and mental health. After earning her MSW at Columbia University School of Social Work, she worked in a community mental health center, followed by a substance abuse treatment center. For the past 8 years, she has been working at CancerCare, a nonprofit agency dedicated to providing psychosocial support to anyone affected by cancer. Maria is also a Clinical Supervisor and the Social Work Internship Program Director at CancerCare. Currently, she is pursuing a DSW degree at the NYU Silver School of Social Work.
Glenn Meuche, LCSW received his MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work and earned a MA in Religious Studies from Fordham University. He began working at CancerCare in 2001 as an oncology social worker and presently serves as its Social Work Internship Program Coordinator. In addition to this, Mr. Meuche has been a field instructor since 1997. He also is a clinical instructor at Smith College School of Social Work Post-Master’s End-of-Life Care Certificate Program and serves as a mentor in the Zelda Foster Studies Program in Palliative and End-of-Life Care at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University.

Continuing Education Credits

Level - Intermediate
Participants will earn 1.5 CE credits upon successful completion of a quiz and a post-webinar evaluation.