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- A child appears sad or withdrawn most of the time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
- Johns Hopkins Children's Center (Resources for Patients and Families):
- LD Online (Learning Disabilities)
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
- Children and Adults with Attention Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder
- National Institute of Mental Health
- Society of Pediatric Psychology Evidence-Based Practice
- Tourette Syndrome Association (TSA)