girl cancer patient laughing with doctor

The Psychology Program at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta works with families who have a child diagnosed with cancer or a blood disorder. The program has specialists who work in two primary domains: pediatric psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.

  • Pediatric psychology addresses emotional and behavioral concerns related to having medical problems (sadness about diagnosis or worry about symptoms) and promotes healthy behaviors (exercising and taking medications) for children, adolescents and young adults in pediatric hospitals and doctor’s offices.
  • Pediatric neuropsychology focuses on understanding how your child’s brain affects his thoughts, learning, feelings and behaviors. We provide specialized assessment and recommendations to maximize school and community success now and in the future.

Oftentimes, a diagnosis of pediatric cancer or blood disorders will mean a lifetime of medical follow-up. Pediatric psychology and neuropsychology are available to provide emotional and behavioral support at the time of diagnosis, through a child’s treatment and into the child’s transition to an adult healthcare setting.

Psychological services for patients and their families help children, adolescents and young adults learn to cope with and manage their diseases. We understand that you know your child best. We work closely with your family to help make sure your child’s individual needs are met. Our focus is always on the well-being of our patients. We believe children should have a high quality of life, despite medical challenges.

Utilizing problem-solving and skills-based and system-focused strategies, our team provides:

  • We provide inpatient and outpatient evaluation of patients having difficulty adjusting to the demands and consequences of treatment.
  • Inpatient and outpatient assessment of patients experiencing behavioral concerns that make managing their illness difficult.

  • Inpatient treatment plans are provided for patients and families to help cope with the patient’s medical condition.
  • Individual and family outpatient therapy is offered at all three Children’s hospital campuses for patients with cancer or blood disorders who are in need of ongoing follow-up and support to overcome obstacles related to their medical conditions.

  • Consultation with medical providers—inside and outside Children’s—on psychological or behavioral issues affecting care or patient management is coordinated.
  • We coordinate services with community mental health professionals for patients living outside metro Atlanta that are unable to follow up at Children’s.

  • Outpatient neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessment of children and adolescents at risk for cognitive or learning difficulties based on disease and/or treatment.
  • Liaisons at schools assist in setting up and maintaining a patient’s individualized education program (IEP), 504 Plan, or school-based interventions and accommodations.

  • Psychologists work closely in multidisciplinary care across primary hematology/oncology, psychiatry and subspecialty teams.
  • There is coordination of clinical care with the family support team, including social work, child life, music therapy, school program and chaplaincy services.
  • We coordinate clinical care with allied health professionals, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and other rehabilitation professionals.

  • As faculty members at Emory University School of Medicine, Children’s psychologists are frequently engaged in clinical and translational research designed to improve patient outcomes in the context of chronic illness.
  • Psychologists are dedicated to advancing the field of pediatric psychology and engage in research to help make sure every child facing medical challenges can receive the care he needs to thrive.
  • Clinical researchers are studying health behavior outcomes, pain and self-management, quality of life, adherence to treatment and transition to adult care.

  • Children’s works with some of the best psychology programs in metro Atlanta to closely supervise and train advanced graduate students to provide compassionate and skilled care to patients and families facing medical challenges.
  • We also have a nationally recognized postdoctoral training program in pediatric psychology that attracts many of the best and brightest fellows from across the U.S.
  • As a leader in the field of pediatric psychology, Children’s is committed to help make sure children continue to have better access to the care they need to lead healthy, productive lives during medical challenges.
  • Neuropsychologists in the department supervise and train advanced graduate students to evaluate cognitive strengths and weaknesses to determine the impact of medical conditions on development, learning, and behavior, and develop an appropriate intervention plan including educational, rehabilitative, psychological, and pharmacological support.

Research has shown that children do better during and after a medical treatment when they are cared for by professionals who specialize in pediatric care. Our team, which includes pediatric psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychometrists and licensed professional counselors, is specially trained and experienced in caring for children with cancer or blood disorders and their families.

Our approach is family-centered, and our work extends beyond the inpatient and outpatient settings to include assistance in a child returning to school and getting back to a happy and healthy life. We often work with allied health professionals, social workers, child life specialists, nurses, music therapists and hospital chaplains to provide comprehensive psychosocial care that is tailored to the needs of each patient and family.

In addition to clinic visits and hospitalizations, our Psychology Program offers traditional therapy sessions at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Egleston, Hughes Spalding and Scottish Rite hospitals. Senior and board-certified psychologists who are nationally renowned for their work in pediatric psycho-oncology and psycho-hematology specialize in the treatment of pain, medicine adherence, self-management, medical decision-making and helping patients transition from pediatric care to adult care.

Children’s will also provide your family with the information, resources and skills needed to feel confident in caring for, advocating for, coordinating care and managing the psychological, behavioral or school-based needs that may arise as a result of treatment.

Families may request to meet with a pediatric psychologist during their child’s inpatient hospital admission or outpatient medical visits. Speak to your hematology/oncology treatment team, who will be happy to address your concerns. You may also request pediatric neuropsychology services.

Our team is here to make sure your child is cared for by skilled, compassionate experts in a child-friendly, family-centered setting.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis for your child can be an emotional and overwhelming experience. At the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, we are here to support you and your family. Whether treating a toddler during an emergency or helping a teen through chemotherapy treatments, we make it our mission to provide the best care—and best experience—for every child. Family is a big part of your child’s well-being. Not only are you a vital member of your child’s healthcare team; you are a source of security and comfort.