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Psychosocial Services

With assistance from The Valerie Fund, our psychosocial team provides a wide range of services for children with cancer and their families.

Counseling and Family Support

Our psychosocial team assesses each family’s strengths and stresses from the time of diagnosis forward, offering individual and family counseling as needed.

The hospital environment poses special challenges for children and adolescents. Our young patients often feel isolated when are no longer able to attend school and see their friends on daily basis. During treatment, they may suffer from mood swings, anxiety and depression.  Some are fearful of pills, needles and medical procedures. Our goal is to help them build resilience over the long-term.

Siblings may also need a safe place to talk about how having a sick brother or sister impacts their lives, while parents often benefit from psychological support, and learning how to talk with their children about illness.

Symptom Management

Our palliative care specialists evaluate each patient’s symptoms, then offer pain management and appropriate interventions. Our goal is to make every child as comfortable as possible.

Neuropsychological Assessment

We also perform neuropsychological assessments to help pediatric cancer patients with impaired cognitive functioning so they can thrive both in and out of school.

 

Educational Services

Our Educational Liaison advocates for patients and serves as the point person between the patients and their families, the schools, and the multidisciplinary medical team.

Services include but are not limited to: educating a family on their educational rights and resources, attending IEP/504 meetings, presentations to school faculty and students, arranging for school enrollment and home instruction, advocating for appropriate educational services, support with college applications and scholarships, and providing medical documentation to schools. 

Child Life

Our Child-Life specialists help young patients understand each step of their treatment.  Using a doll, we may show a child what a port is (a line into the body that allows doctors deliver medicine easily) and explain where radiation will be delivered.  Often we accompany children to the operating room, offering gentle reassurance.

Our Child Life Program maintains a playroom and activities area in the hospital and encourages children to express themselves through art, music and writing.

Social Work

Our Social Workers assist families with insurance and travel issues, including small grants to defray the cost of food and parking.  They also provide supportive counseling and link families to organizations like Hope and Heroes, and Make a Wish, and additional resources offered by The Valerie Fund.

Pastoral Care

Our Pastoral Counselors offer spiritual support to patients and families from a non-denominational perspective.

End of Life Counseling

When necessary, we also help families deal with end of life and bereavement, providing an increased level of compassionate support at this difficult time. 

Care for the Caregivers

Finally, we support the entire caregiving staff, helping medical fellows, nurses and physicians to avoid burnout and deal sensitively with the many psychological issues facing patients and their families as they cope with serious illness.

 

 

To learn more about our Psychosocial Program or to make an appointment, please contact Dr. Marie Barnett at 212-305-9770, or by email at mb3940@cumc.columbia.