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Psychosocial Services and Support Programs

Psychology: Therapeutic Approaches

The psychosocial team at NYU Winthrop’s Cancer Center for Kids (CCFK) fosters a sense of hope and healing through a variety of fun, after-hours activities and therapeutic programs for patients and their families.

Psychotherapy, Assessment & Initial Treatment

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The psychosocial staff works very closely with the medical staff to create specific therapeutic and supportive interventions for each patient and his/her family. Individualized treatment plans, created at the time of diagnosis, are designed to address specific needs in an environment of comfort and hope. These usually involve conversation and play at the Center, the patient’s bedside, or in the hospital playroom. Social workers, child life specialists and psychologists employ guided imagery, “medical play”, relaxation techniques, and supportive therapy in an effort to comfort and empower patient and family.

Testing and Academic Services

Psychological Evaluations, Psycho-educational Testing, and School Advocacy are offered by the Center’s psychologist to map present and future concerns that may arise in the home, school, or work environment. Tests are intended to achieve a baseline for each child’s cognitive, memory or learning skills; they can be administered at school reentry and maintenance levels, and once the child is off treatment for two years. Testing, reporting, and feedback, are provided.

Social Work

In a collaborative effort with psychology and child life, Social Work at the Cancer Center for Kids provides the following services to patients and families faced with social, emotional, and financial difficulties:

  • Psychosocial assessment, casework, community organization methodologies, therapeutic interventions, and counseling and support services to help integrate the medical, social, emotional and family dynamics of the disease/treatment into the current context of each individual’s life situation – and to empower patients and families throughout the continuum of cancer therapy.
  • Collaboration and consultation with schools, parent groups, professional and financial institutions regarding childhood cancer and its impact on patients and families.
  • Advocacy for patients and families to obtain appropriate internal and external services, including knowledge and compliance with Social Services Department policies.
  • Coordination of academic services for children requiring prolonged hospitalizations.

Child Life

The Child Life Program has expanded dramatically as the Cancer Center for Kids continues to address the psychosocial issues accompanying healthcare situations unique to pediatric cancer patients.

Child Life interventions and coping techniques such as medical play, distraction, relaxation and visualization offer children a great sense of familiarity, understanding and emotional mastery of a potentially threatening and frightening situation. Age-appropriate education and therapeutic play are essential for young children who may be unable to communicate their feelings through words and dialogue.

Creative Arts/Music Therapy

Creative Arts/Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to promote the physical and emotional well-being of patients and their families. Music therapy is a powerful and non-invasive medium which has the potential to foster an environment of optimism and ease. Led by our licensed Creative Arts/Music Therapist, the program promotes the integration of physical, emotional, cognitive and social functioning.

The program’s objectives include:

  • Anxiety and stress reduction.
  • Non-pharmacological management of pain and discomfort.
  • Promotion of imagination, self-expression and creative play.
  • Enhancement of coping mechanisms during medical procedures.

The music therapy program includes a music room at CCFK which allows opportunities for patients and families to create and record music using state of the art equipment.

Programs and Support Groups

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The Center’s program and support group objectives are as varied as our patients and their individual needs and situations. Our services—facilitated by the psychosocial team—normalize feelings about diagnosis and care; help patients address fears about upcoming treatments, procedures, relapse, school reentry, and end of treatment and palliative care issues; and offer outreach and support to family and community.

The psychosocial team provides patients and families with year-round programs and events to celebrate special occasions, holidays and participate in peer activities. This provides opportunities for socialization and a sense of normalcy during and after treatment.

Project SOAR (School reentry and Ongoing Academic Resources)

School is a world that belongs to children. When cancer takes them away from that world, CCFK’s skilled psychosocial team guides its patients on their journey back to the classroom with compassionate care and a collaborative approach to healing. Project SOAR, funded by The Michael Magro Foundation, is designed to increase each child’s chances for a successful academic experience during treatment for his or her disease, and for years after treatment has ended. For children to thrive in the classroom they need a smooth transition and often require ongoing assistance, sometimes through their college years. Project SOAR nurtures the pediatric cancer patient, their family and the academic community, empowering the success of their collaborative efforts.

SOAR team members include a:

  • Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist
  • Pediatric Psychologist
  • Pediatric Oncology Nurse Coordinator
  • Pediatric Oncology Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Child Life Specialist
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