Pediatric Psychology

doctor smiling at young girl and mother in office

Children and their families often need help coping with the emotional demands of an injury or illness. The pediatric psychologists at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital can help. Our services benefit children with cancer, heart disease, obesity, traumatic injury, kidney failure, solid organ transplant, and many other conditions.

Pediatric psychologists meet with children and families at the bedside and in outpatient clinics to provide treatment, education, and referrals. Their care addresses how being ill or injured can affect your child’s mood, behavior, and relationships.

Our team primarily offers inpatient pediatric psychology and neuropsychology services to children hospitalized at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. Outpatient appointments may be available to patients referred directly by one of the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital specialty programs. Please contact our office at 954-265-6966 for more information.

How a Pediatric Psychologist Can Help Your Child

If a pediatric psychologist is part of your child’s medical team, they will get to know your child and family. Our psychologists will evaluate your child’s emotional and mental health needs. Then, they will create a personalized, age-appropriate treatment plan for their care.

A pediatric psychologist can help your child:

  • Adjust to a new diagnosis or treatment plan
  • Cope with stress and anxiety related to their illness or injury
  • Manage fears related to pill swallowing and upcoming medical procedures
  • Provide interventions for behavioral or emotional challenges impacting medical care
  • Manage chronic and acute pain

Pediatric psychologists also can help parents and other caregivers:

  • Learn how to support the child
  • Cope with having a child with a complex medical condition
  • Adjust daily routines to make space for medical priorities
  • Connect with community resources

Pediatric Psychology Services

Pediatric psychologists are part of the care team within several Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital programs. They make sure other care team members know your child’s mental state and needs. Learn more about their role by clicking on a specific program below.

  • Bariatric Surgery Program (for weight loss)
  • Cancer Program
  • Cleft and Craniofacial Center
  • Cystic Fibrosis Program
  • Heart Institute
  • Heart Transplant Program
  • Kidney Dialysis and Transplant Programs
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

Get to know our team of pediatric psychologists.

We also offer psychology services to any child in the hospital or emergency department (ED). It is part of our consultation-liaison services. A child’s main physician requests these services. Our team members can visit your child’s bedside anywhere in the hospital. After an evaluation, they create a treatment plan. The plan addresses any emotional and behavioral health concerns. They also make sure the other care team members are aware of the plan. The psychologist will meet with your child and family throughout their hospital stay.

Children in the ED or hospital may need a psychological evaluation and care. A few examples include:

  • Stress related to a new diagnosis, medical treatment or procedure
  • Mood concerns (such as depression and anxiety)
  • Behavior concerns
  • Pain management and pill swallowing difficulties
  • Suicidal ideation

Bariatric Surgery Program

Teens considering bariatric (weight loss) surgery meet with a pediatric psychologist. They meet several times before their procedure. Together they identify any emotional or behavioral health concerns. These concerns or barriers may interfere with a successful surgery. For example, depression or an eating disorder could make it harder for your teen to keep the weight off after surgery. Our team members help create realistic expectations for surgery. And if teens need support after surgery, they are welcome to follow up with our team.

Cancer Program

Pediatric psychologists offer therapy to children of all ages after a cancer diagnosis. These care team members provide holistic care within the pediatric cancer program. They regularly work with social workers, child life specialists and other providers.

A pediatric psychologist can provide care in the clinic, infusion area and hospital room. Really, whatever works best for your child. They focus on the following:

  • Helping patients adjust to their cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Addressing concerns related to anxiety or depression.
  • Recommending ways to improve the patient’s quality of life and emotional well-being.
  • Offering coping strategies for pain management or anxiety about upcoming medical procedures.
  • Providing support for parents and siblings.

Sometimes children need ongoing mental health treatment to deal with a cancer diagnosis. A pediatric psychologist can connect families with community services to provide extra care.

Cleft and Craniofacial Center

A pediatric psychologist sees patients at the Cleft and Craniofacial Center during routine appointments. They will talk with your child to see how they are coping with common stressors. For example, children may feel anxious about upcoming surgeries or orthodontic work. They can often have negative feelings about their facial differences. And they may experience difficulties in school. Extra appointments or referrals to community specialists can provide additional support.

A psychologist can also meet with the families of unborn babies with a cleft palate or craniofacial anomaly.

Cystic Fibrosis Program

A pediatric psychologist is a vital member of the Cystic Fibrosis Program team. They check in on the patients’ emotional and mental well-being during clinic appointments. The pediatric psychologist supports patients and their families in many ways. For example, they can:

  • Help patients manage stress and anxiety about their condition, symptoms and upcoming procedures.
  • Problem-solve to help patients follow their treatment regimen.
  • Offer pain management strategies.
  • Help patients prepare emotionally for a lung transplant.
  • Work with family members to help them support their child through every stage of care.

Our pediatric psychologists work with children of all ages with cystic fibrosis. They are very familiar with the challenges these children face. In addition to seeing children in the hospital, they can provide ongoing mental health therapy.

Heart Transplant Program

A pediatric psychologist is part of the care team when a child is awaiting a heart transplant. They can help patients and families in many ways by providing:

  • Education about emotional challenges related to the heart transplant process
  • Coping skills to deal with stress and anxiety
  • Support to help patients follow their treatment plan
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Guidance to help successfully navigate life after a heart transplant

Our pediatric psychology team thoroughly evaluates each patient. They provide personalized support and treatment throughout the heart transplant process.

Kidney Dialysis and Transplant Programs

Children, adolescents and young adults on kidney dialysis or awaiting a kidney transplant may need emotional support for many reasons. Our pediatric psychologists can help your child with concerns such as:

  • Adjusting emotionally to their diagnosis and care needs.
  • Following their treatment plan, including following their renal diet, fluid intake and taking their medications.
  • Dealing with anxiety related to medical procedures or any upcoming surgeries.
  • Navigating friendships and school while receiving medical care for kidney disease.
  • Preparing for life after a kidney transplant.

Our pediatric psychologists begin with an evaluation. They then create a personalized treatment plan that changes as your child’s needs change. They provide therapy to your child during outpatient dialysis and hospital stays. They can also meet with your child outside these care settings. For longer-term support, they can also refer you to community mental health therapists.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Parents and other family members face unique stresses when a newborn enters the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Fortunately, our pediatric psychologists have specific training and experience to help support them. They can:

  • Provide an assessment to help guide the treatment plan.
  • Identify and manage concerns such as caregiver anxiety and depression.
  • Recognize more complex issues, including postpartum psychosis, a medical emergency that disrupts a person’s sense of reality after they give birth.
  • Help improve the parent-baby bond, even with limited physical touch.
  • Help mothers build confidence in their maternal abilities.
  • Prepare for challenges that may arise after the baby goes home.
  • Provide grief support when the baby is not doing well or dies.

A pediatric psychology team member meets with parents and caregivers in the NICU. If you need more support after the hospital stay, we can also make a referral to a community provider.