Support for Your Treatment Journey
We’ve developed programs at Stephen D. Hassenfeld Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, part of Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, to help both your child and your family deal with the challenges and stress of diagnosis and treatment.
Child Life Specialists
The child life team uses age-appropriate supports and interventions to decrease any potential trauma that may be associated with medical care. Using developmentally appropriate play, arts materials, and other creative activities, children are given a sense of normalcy and the opportunity to socialize, explore, and express their feelings. This program helps to decrease a child’s stress and anxiety both before and during medical procedures.
Children are encouraged to safely play with real medical equipment to act out their feelings and concerns regarding their illness and treatment. This play can be offered before procedures to help prepare children or after to help children gain additional understanding of their treatment.
Child life specialists and music therapists are also available to accompany your child during procedures to help distract him or her, promote relaxation, and help you and your child manage stress and pain.
We have various opportunities to pair your child with a mentor. This can be an informal referral made through the psychosocial team that connects your child with an older child or teenager who has gone through similar treatment, or it can be a more formal referral to community agencies that specialize in mentoring children undergoing cancer treatment.
Music therapists use improvisation, receptive music listening, song writing, lyric discussion, musical imagery, music performance, and learning through music to help children understand their emotions and help them communicate those feelings to others.
Our music therapists use progressive muscle relaxation and music-assisted imagery to teach children different ways to relax and focus on calming thoughts. By singing or playing instruments, such as the guitar or keyboard, our music therapists help calm your child’s fears and provide a distraction during medical procedures.
Pet therapy offers children and family members a unique way to relax, feel calmer, and express their emotions. The Good Dog Foundation provides pet therapy on a weekly basis. Their adult and animal volunteer teams complete thorough professional training, earn certification, and are supervised during therapy sessions.
Having a medical condition and needing treatment can have a big impact on the emotional, social, and financial wellbeing of a family. Social workers are trained to talk with patients and families about these issues, offer supportive counseling, and make connections to community resources.
Social workers are also involved in leading support groups and helping develop family-centered programs to support families when their children are going through treatment. It can be very challenging for families to manage issues that involve understanding the nature of a medical situation, treatment options, and the healthcare system, as well as decision making about future care needs and trying to re-establish the family’s routine.
A social worker is available to help you think through these issues and provide the information you need to make the best decisions for your child and entire family.
Psychology and Neuropsychology Services
Our pediatric psychology services are available to assist with the various emotional, cognitive, developmental, and social needs of patients and their families. We can provide ongoing consultation, as well as individual and group psychotherapy and educational advocacy. Our psychologists also provide referrals for additional mental health services, such as a psychiatric evaluation, when needed.
We also provide neuropsychological testing. Cancer and its treatments can affect many facets of a child’s learning and development. Our specialists use neuropsychological testing to assess a child’s memory, attention, and brain-processing abilities. This allows us to make appropriate treatment and educational recommendations, as well as secure learning interventions or accommodations for your child when needed.
We provide spiritual, religious, and chaplaincy services to patients and their families. Our chaplains, who are of various denominations, have experience in working with faith in the context of illness and are available for individual and family support and consultation as needed.