NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Sonia Grace Austrian (1933 - 2008)
Dr. Austrian served as the Clinical Associate Professor of Public Health for Medicine, as well as for Psychiatry. In this academic capacity she collaborated within both departments as the liaison, teacher and consultant for biopsychosocial factors in patient care – linking therapeutic issues both to operational and academic social work.
Dr. Austrian was born In New York City. She graduated from Wellesley College and received a MSW and DSW from Columbia University. She began her career in social work at Payne Whitney Clinic and ultimately became an Associate Professor of Public Health in Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She also served as the Director of the Employee Assistance Program Consortium of Weill Cornell University Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital Cornell Campus, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University and the Hospital for Special Surgery. Concurrently, she served as Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work where she taught Master's degree students and served on the Alumni Association where she brought her vast knowledge of theories and experiences of biopsychosocial factors in patient care. At the medical center she administered the social-health concerns presented by employees of this renowned medical institution.
An inspirational teacher, she was an Assistant Professor and later was an Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work. At the EAPC, she developed an innovative placement program where she supervised and mentored Columbia social work Interns. She also had a private practice. Dr. Austrian was a prolific writer, having authored books that are widely used in social work education. She wrote a major textbook, Mental Disorders, Medications, and Clinical Social Work, which is in its 3rd edition. She also edited Developmental Theories Through the Life Cycle, which is in its 2nd edition. She was a Fellow at the New York Academy of Medicine.