Clinical psychology services are available to all families of children treated within the Kids Cancer Centre. The clinical psychologist is specialised in child development and a branch of psychology called Behavioural Medicine. She works closely with the family’s social worker and other members of the team.
The clinical psychologist usually introduces herself to a family if the team feels that her input may be of benefit to one or several family members. A referral is not necessary however, and parents can ask to see her themselves if they have concerns or questions about any of their children and how they have been coping since diagnosis.
Some parents want to talk with the psychologist about the possible impact of diagnosis and treatment on their child’s development. Many parents want ideas about ways to help their child cope with medical procedures, oral medications and/or hospitalisations. Others have questions about how to manage emotional or behavioural problems that seem to have developed or increased since diagnosis.
Brothers and sisters of the patient might well be troubled by the many changes imposed on their lives since the diagnosis. Sometimes it is helpful for a brother or sister to meet the psychologist and to know that she is available for them.
Families can decide how much or how little contact they would like with the psychologist. Some parents feel that one meeting has given them enough information to go on with. Others prefer to have several regular meetings to guide them through the process of improving adjustment and coping or changing problem behaviours.
Clinical psychology services are also available to children who have completed treatment and have returned to school. The clinical psychologist occasionally conducts intellectual and/or academic assessments of children and teenagers who may be experiencing learning difficulties due to missed schooling and/or possible long-term effects of their treatment. A referral from the patient’s oncology specialist is required before an assessment can be arranged.