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Psychology Clinic

Lisa Jacola, PhD, with patient Taylor

During your time at St. Jude, you and your child may be affected in many ways. Many families and children benefit from working with a psychologist in the Psychology Clinic. Although your child will be the focus of treatment, we work with the family as well. We offer a wide range of support services for you and your child.

  1. Psychology provides services that promote good mental health and overall well-being.  Patients may be seen for an initial visit when they first come to St. Jude and may also be referred for help with transitions or help with a specific problem.  Things we can help you and your child with include:

    • Adjustment to diagnosis or treatment
    • Anxiety
    • Behavior problems
    • Depression or other mood problems
    • Distress during procedures
    • Grief
    • Not taking medicines as prescribed
    • Pain
    • Pill-swallowing problems
    • Sleep problems
    • Toileting problems (bedwetting and other difficulties)

    You may request an appointment with Psychology at any time by calling the Psychology Clinic (901-595-3581).

    Your child’s first visit with a psychologist is called a consult. This meeting usually takes place in the Psychology Clinic but may also take place in an inpatient room or another area of the hospital. The first visit helps the psychologist understand how your child is doing. After that session, you will work with the psychologist to develop a plan to support your child.  This plan might include meeting with the psychologist regularly, or referrals to other services such as child life or social work.

    Common benefits of psychology services include:

    • Coping better with treatment
    • Improvements in mood and behavior
    • Becoming better at following medical plans such as taking medicines or wearing masks
    • Feeling less scared during medical procedures
    • Learning how to better manage pain
  2. Your child may be seen in the Psychology Clinic for a psychological assessment, or testing. During an assessment appointment, you and your child will talk with the psychologist, and your child will take some tests that measure thinking and related skills. You may complete questionnaires about your child’s behavior. The psychologist will also review your child’s medical records. Your child may take breaks from testing, as needed.

    The Psychology Clinic provides different kinds of assessments.

    Clinical trial assessment. Testing may occur as a standard part of your child’s clinical trial. Tests are often used to answer specific research questions and are the same for all patients who take part in the study. Following this type of assessment, you will be given a brief report with feedback. Psychology staff may add additional tasks or suggest another assessment appointment if areas of weakness are found or if you have concerns about your child’s thinking or learning. Clinical trial assessments vary in length of time but are usually three and a half hours long.

    Screening assessment. Patients may be seen for a screening assessment when they first come to St. Jude, or at the time of transitions such as when finishing treatment. This type of assessment may be used by St. Jude School Program academic coordinators to advocate for school-based services for your child. If a screening assessment shows areas of weakness, a more comprehensive assessment might be recommended.  Screening assessment appointments are typically one or two hours in length.

    Early childhood assessment. This type of assessment measures the development of children under the age of 3 years. Developmental assessments are typically one or two hours in length.

    Neuropsychological assessment. This type of assessment is more comprehensive and is typically completed when you or your child’s medical team have concerns about how their medical diagnosis or treatment might be impacting thinking and learning.  Neuropsychological assessment appointments vary in length but might take up to six hours.

    Psychology assessments may help address concerns about:

    • Attention
    • Development
    • Intelligence
    • Language
    • Learning
    • Memory

    How to Prepare for an Assessment

    • Make sure your child has eaten and is well rested.
    • Continue giving your child all normal medicines, including those for ADHD.
    • Children with glasses or hearing aids should wear them.
    • If possible, bring recent school documents such as report cards, education plans (504, IEP), and results of any psychological testing your child has completed in the past.
    • Reassure your child that there will be no physical exam or needle sticks.
    • Prepare your child to be away from you for portions of testing.  Do not worry, you will be close by and your child may see you as often as they would like.

    You will receive feedback either right after the visit or during a separate feedback session. This will depend on your child’s schedule and the type of assessment. Feedback sessions may take place in the Psychology Clinic or may be held over the phone.

    A written report that describes your child’s results and gives recommendations, if applicable, will be uploaded to the Patient Portal. This report is typically available within one month.

    Benefits of assessment in the Psychology Clinic may include:

    • A smoother transition back to school or between grade levels
    • Confidence that your child is receiving the correct educational and academic support
    • Guidance about jobs or further education as your child prepares to graduate from high school or college
  3. The Psychology Clinic team includes the following:

    • licensed psychologists and neuropsychologists
    • licensed psychological examiners
    • trainees at all levels
  4. Many other support services are available to your child and your family. These include Social Work, Child Life, Spiritual Care Services, Rehabilitation Therapy and the School Program. Learn more about these support services. For more details, call 901-595-3300 or (toll-free) 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833).