Treating childhood psychological conditions requires a higher level of understanding and insight into the particular needs of young patients. Our child psychologists and other mental health professionals in the Division of Psychology and Behavioral Health work exclusively with children and teens, and emphasize patient and family-focused care.
Children’s National Approach to Care
We treat every patient at Children’s National as a unique individual. To accurately diagnose and provide the most appropriate care, we consider all the variables affecting the child or teen.
Depending on the patient, our specialists may interview the child or teen, his or her parents, and have the patient and family fill out questionnaires about different aspects of the patient’s life, including physical health concerns, difficulties at school, and behavior with friends and family.
Children’s specialists help children and teens with a range of concerns, including:
Personal Care for Every Patient
Following a comprehensive assessment, a member of our care team discusses treatment options with the child or teen and his or her family. Depending on the condition and the patient, a treatment plan may include cognitive and behavioral therapy or medication, or some combination.
Behavior therapy can help parents learn how to help their children manage certain conditions in other settings, such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). For a patient with OCD, a behavioral therapy called exposure with response prevention (ERP) includes gradually exposing children to their obsessive thoughts while at the same time preventing them from connecting those thoughts to their compulsive behaviors or rituals.
An example of cognitive therapy includes a child with separation anxiety disorder (SAD) working with a therapist to help the patient and his or her family deal with feelings of anxiety. During treatment, children learn by gradually facing their fear of separation and learn that anxiety can be managed.
Specialized Care Clinics
Some children and teens have complex conditions and benefit from multidisciplinary programs that call on the expertise of many specialists. Specialized clinics include:
Medical Psychology Program
The Medical Psychology Program at Children's National serves families and patients who suffer from chronic medical conditions, acute physical symptoms, or distress associated with medical treatment. Assistance provided by the medical psychology program:
- Consultation with medical care providers
- Medical adherence management
- Adjustment to illness
- Pain management
- Stress management
- Relaxation training
Children’s National offers emotional support as well as resources and specialists to assist you in caring for your child’s condition:
- Behavioral interventions for medical regimens and cooperation with medical procedures
- Neurocognitive evaluations for the detection of developmental, educational, or neuropsychological effects of medical treatment
- Medical evaluations and consultation through Children's psychiatry liason
Individual, family, and group psychotherapy also is available to help families cope with a child's illness, school attendance issues, other side effects, and bereavement.
Research at Children’s National
We are dedicated to improving pediatric psychological care through our involvement in research based at Children’s National or done in collaboration with organizations, such as the National Institutes of Health.
For more information about enrolling your child in a clinical study, speak with your child’s care team.