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Rebecca Jeans, MSW, LICSW, has dedicated her life to social work. But when she was younger, she was heading in a different direction.
“I started off as an anthropology major in college because I’ve always been interested in people, in culture, and in the ways that people interact and communicate with one another,” Jeans said. In time, though, she realized “there aren’t a ton of career options for anthropologists, so I switched my major to psychology.” She is glad she did.
While studying psychology at the University of Vermont, Jeans spent time as a substitute respite worker at several group homes for individuals with chronic mental illness. She also ran a volunteer program providing free meals to homeless individuals in the community. “I loved the clinical interactions, the direct contact, so that’s how I decided to go to graduate school for social work,” she explained.
After receiving her BA in psychology, Jeans returned to the area where she grew up and earned her MSW from New York University. Right after completing her studies in 2006, she moved to Boston and took a job at McLean. She has been with the hospital ever since.
“I remember being in graduate school and realizing that I was in the right place,” Jeans said. “I never doubted that the field that I was entering was the right fit. I remember thinking, ‘this is really challenging, but I love what I’m doing,’ and I couldn’t picture myself doing anything else.”
Today, Jeans holds the position of a senior clinical team manager for the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program. In this role, she works with patients at an interim level of care. She helps both those who are transitioning out of inpatient programs and those who are “stepping up” from the community to a higher level of care at the hospital.
For those transitioning out of the hospital and back to everyday life, Jeans and her colleagues “help acclimate them back to their community, assist in further developing their coping skills to manage everyday life, make sure that their families remain involved in their treatment, and help with additional referrals.” For those coming to the hospital from the community, Jeans and her team create plans to help them adjust to “a higher, more intensive level of care and provide stability.”
Outside of McLean, Jeans continues to assist patients. About eight years ago, she started a small private practice where she helps families develop more effective communication. She also works with many young people in their 20s and 30s, as well as new mothers. She also provides private case management for those who need ongoing support with referrals and coordination of care.
“I really try to focus on the quality of life that patients are living,” Jeans said. “It’s not just about surviving or ‘white-knuckling’ it through every day but improving the quality of their lives and doing it in a manageable and realistic way.”
Jeans’ passion for helping others has remained strong through her 14-year career. “I remember my mother—who is also a social worker—telling me that the work is really hard but very rewarding,” Jeans said. “In the social work industry, you have to love what you do. Passion is important, and you have to commit to the career.”
When she’s not helping patients, Jeans loves to spend time with her family, especially outdoors. Along with her husband, two young children, and rescue dog, Jeans enjoys “hiking, skiing, going to the beach—I love to be outside!”