Meet Your Provider: Sarah Aleman, MSW, LCSW
When licensed clinical social worker Sarah Aleman, MSW, LCSW, joined Zufall Health, she was the organization’s only behavioral health provider and was serving a limited number of patients solely in Dover. Now, 12 years later, as director of behavioral health, she oversees a 19-member staff that serves patients at every Zufall medical site.
Pursuing a career helping others was an easy choice for Aleman. At a young age, she assumed a caregiving role for her sick father. She looked up to her mother, a nurse, and her aunt, a special education teacher. Her strong interest in her high school psychology coursework directed her to social work.
Aleman was working with an agency helping survivors of domestic abuse from populations similar to our patients when she learned of the job opening at Zufall. She had no experience with medical and dental care but was eager to learn.
Today, Aleman and team provide outpatient behavioral health clinical and case management services to children and adults for a variety of issues that impact the overall health of our patients. This includes adapting to a new health diagnosis, stress management, bereavement, pain, depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, family conflict, and more. During Aleman’s tenure, Zufall has increasingly worked to integrate behavioral health with primary care to produce better overall health outcomes.
Asked why she’s remained with Zufall, Aleman credits the quality of services we provide to the community and working with colleagues who share her drive and passion to serve.
She’s proud of the evolution of our behavioral health program, even during the pandemic. Faced with an abrupt end to in-person visits, behavioral health staff had to quickly adapt to an increased reliance on telemedicine.
“Our transition was challenging, but it actually made access easier for many of our patients who normally would need childcare or time off from work to attend an in-person behavioral health appointment. Now, many of our visits are still conducted virtually,” she explained.
Aleman’s team has also facilitated “Staff Connect” online support groups for Zufall employees during the pandemic. Led monthly by a behavioral health team member, Staff Connect provides a nonjudgmental environment for employees to share about coping with stressors and lend support to one another. As her professional journey at Zufall continues, Aleman will be working on furthering the integration of physical and behavioral health care and expanding same-day access to counseling services for medical patients needing intervention.
“A core part of my being is connecting, giving, and serving,” she said, “and it’s especially satisfying when we find new and better ways to serve patients who need our care.”
Aleman holds a master’s degree in social work from Rutgers University where she completed the Violence Against Women and Children Certificate Program. She is currently enrolled in the Leadership Certificate Program in Primary Care Behavioral Health through the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her toddler son and loves to cook.