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Bethany Virgilio, LICSW: Emotional care is primary care

Published 10/10/2018
Bethany Virgilio, LICSW

Bethany Virgilio is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, providing counseling services in conjunction with the primary care physicians at South County Health. Bethany received a master’s of social work from Springfield College in Springfield, MA and provides counseling and cognitive therapies for children, adolescents, and adult clients.

What motivated you to pursue a career in counseling?
By nature, I am very much an introvert. Listening, observing, and assessing are innate qualities for me. I have always been drawn to understanding people and problem solving. Often people are at their most vulnerable when they first meet with a therapist. I find it gratifying to be able to make a connection that could impact them positively.

What are some of the concerns and behavioral conditions that you help your clients to resolve?
Some of the most common concerns are depression, anxiety, and coping with stress such as relationship issues or difficulties at work. I often see patients who are coping with loss or grief.

Additionally, I see patients who may need to make changes in their lifestyle due to health issues. I am able to work with patients around sleep concerns, coping with a new diagnosis, and incorporating stress management and relaxation techniques to improve overall health.

What are some of the therapies or behavior modification strategies that you use to bring about positive changes in your clients?
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is evidence based practice and useful especially in treating anxiety and phobias. It focuses on changing your thought process. Mindfulness techniques can be helpful in making behavior changes and reducing symptoms of depression. Often, patients benefit from supportive therapy to help them gain insight into their identified concerns.

How does the use of prescribed medications play a role in the counseling services you provide?
Patients' opinions on taking medication can vary widely. As a social worker, I see my role first and foremost to support them in what they choose and secondly to educate them.

I can provide basic psycho-education and help them to formulate specific questions for their doctor. I focus on assessing the intensity, frequency, and duration of symptoms. If I see a patient struggling despite making significant effort in therapy, I will recommend they consider discussing medications with their medical provider. Combining medication along with psychotherapy can be the most effective route for many patients.

How do you measure success in your clients’ progress and your ability to help them?
Within the first few meetings, I always try to define the patient’s goal. Ultimately, it is helpful to break down a big goal into smaller, measurable objectives that can help them to achieve a feeling of success. Most often these goals are focused on symptom reduction.

Given the intimate nature of seeing a therapist, it’s crucial both parties are able to indicate if the connection is not a good fit. I encourage patients to give me feedback. In turn, I will also recommend a referral to a specialty provider or more intensive services if I think it would be beneficial.

Where do you see patients?
I see patients in the Wakefield Primary Care office. I also have limited hours within Westerly and East Greenwich primary care.

Additionally, you will find me in the emergency room and throughout the hospital where I complete behavioral health assessments.

What are some of your hobbies and interests outside of your career?
Outside of work, I have 2 young children ages 3 and 5 who keep me on my toes. Most of my free time now is spent enjoying all the little moments with them.

To schedule an appointment with Bethany at her Wakefield, East Greenwich, or Westerly office, call 401-789-8543.