Pediatric Medical Psychology Program

The Pediatric Medical Psychology Program provides a wide range of assessment and treatment services for children with learning, behavior, psychosocial and medical problems. Learn more about the services we provide, our research, our training opportunities, our expert team of faculty and staff, as well as some helpful web links for patients and families.

For an initial appointment or for more information, call our patient coordinator at 410-614-2401.

Psychological Assessment Services

Many children are experiencing learning, behavioral or emotional problems that are difficult to understand and treat. The Pediatric Medical Psychology program offers assessment services to help parents, teachers and mental health providers clarify the factors that contribute to the educational and psychological problems of young people. The assessment approach uses state-of-the-art assessment instruments to provide an objective appraisal of a child’s cognitive, neuropsychological, academic, personality and psychiatric characteristics. The assessments will help in the diagnosis of learning disabilities, psychiatric disorders, developmental disabilities and neurological problems; however, the assessment process will also lead to recommendations that include the most appropriate evidence-based treatments.

Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatments

Over the last decade the research base for the psychological treatment of children and adolescents suffering from emotional and behavioral problems has greatly expanded. Our staff utilizes the treatment approaches with the strongest research support; accordingly, the treatment services offered by the Pediatric Medical Psychology program include a variety of cognitive and behavioral interventions. We treat children and adolescents that display a range of psychiatric disorders, including: Mood, Anxiety, Tic, Obsessive-Compulsive, Attention (i.e., ADHD), and Conduct/Oppositional disorders.  A more detailed description of evidence-based mental health treatment can be found at the following link:

Evidence-Based Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents

Services for the Medically Ill

Children that are medically ill may have behavioral or emotional issues that are associated with their medical problems. In many cases there are behavioral, psychological, social and environmental considerations that affect the ability of children to cooperate with the procedures that are important in effectively managing their medical care. Therefore, our psychology staff will frequently use various behavioral techniques to enhance the effectiveness of medical treatment.  In the process, the psychologist will work with the patient, family members and medical staff to deal with a variety of medically related issues. In addition to treating behavioral and emotional issues that complicate medical treatment, psychologists can help with pain management, compliance with medical procedures, stress reduction and family interactions that influence patient care. A more detailed description of evidence-based treatment for a number of conditions and/or illnesses can be found at the following link: Society of Pediatric Psychology Evidence-Based Practice 

What is pediatric medical psychology?

Pediatric medical psychologists are trained to assess and treat behavioral and emotional factors that impact a child’s medical conditions. These experts work with children and families to promote healthy behaviors. They often work with doctors, nurses, parents, teachers, and social workers. Medical psychologists may work with children and families on inpatient units, in pediatric specialty clinics (such as cardiology or oncology), or with families on a follow-up basis.
Common concerns that a medical psychologist can help with:

  • Coping with a new or existing medical diagnosis
  • Parent and sibling stress and coping
  • Distress with medical procedures, such as blood draws
  • Coping with pain and other physical symptoms
  • Problems taking medications
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety, worries, and fears
  • Trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression and suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty following directions or acting out
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Problems learning or paying attention in school
  • Concerns with feeding/eating or toileting
  • Transition from pediatrics to adult care

When should parents seek help from a medical psychologist?

Medical illnesses are stressful experiences for children and families. Seeking help from a medical psychologist is a good idea when:

  • Coping or behavior is getting in the way of a child’s medical treatment
  • A child’s medical condition is causing trouble with self-esteem or relationships
  • A child appears sad or withdrawn most of the time
  • A child has trouble interacting with other kids or going to school
  • There is a lot of distress or acting out before, during, or after medical procedures
  • Any of the above are getting in the way of daily life, school, friendships, or happiness

Your child’s medical team may suggest consulting with a medical psychologist. You can also bring this up with the medical team, or contact pediatric medical psychology team directly. The Pediatric Medical Psychology team at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center can be reached at 410-614-2401.

To request an appointment, call 410-614-2401

Your First Appointment

Who should I call if I want to make an appointment for my child?

If you would like to make an appointment for your child or family in our Pediatric Medical Psychology clinic or wish to hear more about the services we offer, please call 410-614-2401

Should I bring anything to my child’s first appointment? Will I have to fill out any paperwork?

  • Before your first appointment, it is helpful to gather any medical, educational, or mental health records from your health care provider(s). For example: any prior psychological evaluation reports or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) from your child’s school.
  • We recommend that you arrive at least 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. Your psychologist will likely ask you and/or your child to fill out some questionnaires to get more information about your child’s emotional, behavioral, and/or social functioning.

What should parents or caregivers expect during their first appointment with a child medical psychologist?

In your first appointment the psychologist will likely want to:

  • Get to you know and your child. This will include asking questions about your child’s birth, development, medical history, family history, educational history, and mental/behavioral health history.
  • Work together to come up with some goals for therapy. Examples may include: reducing anxiety/depression symptoms, reducing behavior problems, increasing use of coping skills, and increasing school attendance.
  • Discuss a possible treatment plan to address therapy goals. They will work with you to decide when to follow-up.

Helpful Links to Learn More