Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, LICSW
Accepting new clients for evening and weekend appointments
Teenagers (13 - 18)
Young adults / college students (18 - 24)
Specialties & expertise
- Chronic illness
- Loss and grief
- Mindfulness and stress reduction
- Life transitions
- Trauma and PTSD
Kathy Clair-Hayes is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Jamaica Plain, MA specializing in grief and loss, living with a chronic illness, life transitions, depression, and anxiety. Kathy's practice is unique in that she employs Animal Assisted Therapy with her co-therapist and service dog, Thor, who is present in all her therapy sessions. She finds that Animal Assisted Therapy can be especially effective in relieving her clients' symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Kathy particularly enjoys working with individuals navigating life transitions, such as beginning a new job, starting school, or becoming a parent. She also has extensive experience and training in supporting those dealing with illness, grief, and loss. She helps individuals deal with a new diagnosis or living with a chronic illness, such as cancer, Lyme Disease, or autoimmune diseases. She also has expertise in helping parents explain a diagnosis to their children and managing the impact of an illness on a family.
Kathy has over two decades of experience as a medical social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she worked with individuals who have cancer and their families. Her treatment approaches include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Mindfulness Practices, and Supportive Therapy. Kathy works with teenagers, young adults, adults, couples, and parents. She takes a warm and engaging approach, helping clients embrace their identity beyond a diagnosis and works towards a place of mental and physical well-being.
Chronic illness – Dealing with a diagnosis, adjusting to a new normal, impact on family, advocacy with medical team, creating a safe space to process feelings
Grief and loss – Understanding the grief process, provide a safe space to feel emotions, increase self care experiences, creating a new understanding of who you are
Depression – Learning how your depression talks to you (impact on sleep and energy disruption, overall mood disturbance, inability to enjoy yourself, and difficulty being motivated), mindfulness and behavioral activation strategies to help cope with depression, increasing self care
Anxiety – Managing generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, developing new skills to cope with anxious thoughts and thinking traps
Life transitions – Adjusting to college, new relationships, career transitions and direction; mid-life existential, relationship, and career challenges; losing one’s drive or burn out; learning self-care
Couples counseling – Improving communication and problem solving skills with couples from all gender and sexual identities
Existential challenges / crises – Questioning purpose, spirituality, existence; finding one’s path and voice, especially when it differs from society's expectations
Perinatal mental health – Anxiety, depression, and relationship concerns specific to childbearing women and their families; navigating complex emotions and the transition to parenthood during pregnancy and the postpartum period
Kathy is not in-network with any insurances.
Read about the benefits of seeing an out-of-network provider here.
- Initial session: $200 (60min)
- Ongoing sessions: $185/session (50min)
- Couples session: $200/session (60min)
Therapist's note: Kathy can provide you with paperwork for reimbursement from your insurance company if you are seeking out-of-network sessions.
Message to clients
"Thanks for taking the time to learn about my clinical practice and how we can work together. Picking a therapist is a very personal choice. You need to feel that your therapist understands your experience, your challenges and moves you a new way of seeing yourself and your strengths.
I provide psychotherapy for teens, adults and couples. I specialize in treating anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and loss, living with cancer (and other medical illnesses), and supporting parents during challenging times. I provide a non-judgmental, safe, warm and compassionate place to look at the challenges in your life: the depression that is keeping you isolated, the trauma that makes you withdraw and feel alone, the anxiety that won’t let you sleep at night. We will focus on building on your strengths, teaching you new coping skills, and actively witnessing the reworking of your story.
Thor is an integral part of my psychotherapy practice and is present during all my therapy sessions. He is a six-year-old yellow labrador/ golden retriever mix who has been bred and trained as a service dog by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Many clients choose to invite him up on the couch or have him sit close by during a session. It is very common for clients to say that having Thor in the room helps them trust, feel safe, and calm. Note: If you have allergies to dogs or a fear of dogs, we will not be the right choice for your therapy team.
I look forward to connecting with you!"
Treatment approachesAnimal Assisted TherapyIncorporating specially trained animals alongisde traditional talk therapy to provide comfort and aid in emotional wellness. (learn more)
Behavioral ActivationBehavioral activation is a treatment for depression focused on increasing activities that are in line with a client's values and help them engage with their environment in an enjoyable ways. (learn more)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)In cognitive behavioral therapy, you work with a therapist in a structured way, attending a limited number of sessions. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you become aware of inaccurate or negative thinking, so you can view challenging situations more clearly and respond to them in a more effective way. (learn more)
Family SystemsFamily systems theory views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking to describe the complex interactions in the unit. Family system therapy may be used to address conflict stemming from the family unit by working on a client's ability to maintain individuality while maintaining emotional contact with the group. (learn more)
Internal Family SystemsIFS is a type of therapy that views the mind as a combination of relatively discrete subpersonalities each with its own viewpoint and qualities that interact with one another. IFS aims to understand how these collections of subpersonalities are organized and promote harmony among them. (learn more)
Mindfulness PracticesMindfulness practices include but are not limited to developing awareness, attention, and remembering. In mindfulness-informed therapy, clients develop tools to become aware of what is occurring within and around them, so they can begin to untangle from mental preoccupations and difficult emotions. Self-acceptance and compassion are also core elements of mindfulness-informed therapy. (learn more)
Supportive TherapySupportive psychotherapy is used primarily to reinforce a patient’s ability to cope with stressors by giving clients the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts about the issues. Clinicians help patients learn how to move forward and make decisions or changes that may be necessary to adapt, either to an acute change, such as the loss of a loved one or severe disappointment, or to a chronic situation, such as an ongoing illness. (learn more)
Education and work experience
Private Practice, 2016 - Present
Massachusetts General Hospital, 1995 - 2016
Boston College, MSW, 1995