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Social workers impact patients’ journey

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

One-on-one opportunities to help patients achieve their treatment goals is a rewarding part of working at Oregon​ State Hospital, said Rich Ryden, an OSH psychiatric social worker.

“As part of our work, we reach the hardest to reach," he said. “The most fulfilling part of my job is finding out why patients are so hard to reach and helping them unpack the trauma that may come from years of living on the streets or years of living with other trauma."

As a social worker, Ryden advocates for patients both at the hospital and in the community to ensure their successful discharge and transition back into the community. Social workers also assess patients' progress through the treatment plan and may provide therapy and skill-building exercises to help patients deal with mixed feelings about being discharged, Ryden said.  

“If a patient is upset or anxious, we might work on some grounding or mindfulness techniques," he said. “A lot of patients here have some ambivalence about being discharged, so I might do some motivational interviewing to help them better prepare for their next steps in the community."

Ryden said he appreciates that OSH embraces a patient-centered team approach to care and treatment because it benefits not only the patient, but anyone working with the patient. The experience of working with other team members also provides meaningful insights into his own professional practice.

“I get to work with some really seasoned professionals who have done this for quite a long time, and I find a lot of fulfillment in getting to know how people approach their work in in the mental health field," Ryden said. “I find the interdisciplinary aspect of it is really fulfilling, also."

Social work is Ryden's second career. For 25 years, he worked construction and when it was time for a career change, recalled an influential teacher's suggestion that he should consider social work.

“I always kept that in the back of my mind, but life happened. I always had this nagging feeling that my life was meant to work directly with people," he said.

He went back to college and about eight years ago started working as a licensed clinical social worker. He began working at the hospital more than 1.5 years ago and said he hopes others interested in fulfilling careers in psychiatric social work seek opportunities to join OSH's team.

“I love when people ask me, 'what do you do?," and I can proudly say, 'I'm a psychiatric social worker at Oregon State Hospital' … because it's been a long time getting here," he said. “At OSH, we have a unique opportunity to meet people in the criminal justice system and provide them empathy, compassion and good service where they may not receive the same in their journey otherwise." 

Learn more about social worker job opportunities at OSH.



LCSW Rich Ryden

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