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Retirement Counseling

An MIT social worker helps retirees adjust to the emotional issues that can creep into their lives.

Friday, December 1, 2006
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Besides offering workshops and targeted Web sites, another way companies can help their employees emotionally prepare for retirement is by offering counselors.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dawn Metcalf is a clinical social worker in the medical department's mental health service. For current and retired employees of the Cambridge, Mass. institution, which employs some 10,000 people, she does consultations related to aging issues.

In her experience, retiring employees aren't concerned about the emotional issues of retirement at first. Worries about finances occupy their minds.

After about two or three years of retirement, however, that changes. Retirees move beyond money concerns as more existential questions such as purpose and quality of life emerge.

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"That's when we get more requests (for consultations)," Metcalf says.

Luckily for these employees, Metcalf's consultations are available after retirement. That's not the case at many companies, where services for employees often stop once retirees walk out the door the last time.

Metcalf disagrees with that practice. "Companies have a responsibility to look beyond the last day of work," she says. "I don't know if companies feel that responsibility."

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