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Patients and Families

Support Services


Image of a support group
Weekly Chat: Traditional and creative ways to assess
and treat pain


As part of the comprehensive care provided at the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the National Cancer Institute, we provide a wide range of psychosocial support services to address the social, psychological, emotional, and practical facets of pediatric cancer and to support patients and families while they are enrolled in clinical research protocols.


Some of these psychosocial support services include:

Coffee, Tea & Chat Program:  To address the informational and support needs of our families, the Psychosocial Support Program has “chat” sessions available several times each week that are designed for family participation. Educational sessions focus on areas such as parenting skills, pain management, palliative care interventions, coping and adjustment, tips in staying connected to and caring for one’s other children, children’s learning styles, nutrition, discipline, relaxation, complementary medicine, and treatment of sleep disturbances.

View the Weekly Chat Session calendar here: Coffee, Tea, and Chat Session Schedule (PDF document, 1 page) PDF Document

Multidisciplinary Team Multidisciplinary Team:  Families can benefit from different types of support at various times of their child’s illness. To meet the needs of our patients and families, we utilize the services of a multidisciplinary team. The multidisciplinary team includes social workers, psychologists, recreation therapists, art therapists, and psychiatrists. This team works together to provide:

  • Art therapy
  • Behavioral techniques to manage anxiety related to procedures, pill swallowing, and illness
  • Bioethics Consultations
  • Camp programs
  • Individual and family counseling
  • Interpreters
  • Massage Therapy/Reiki
  • Medical play groups
  • Neurobehavioral Assessment
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Play therapy
  • Psychiatry consultation service
  • Recreational therapy 
  • School (K-12) Program - The NIH School: The NIH School (PDF Document, 2 pages) PDF Document
  • Sibshops held at The Children’s Inn at NIH
  •  Sibling Day (held in July)
  • Support groups and workshops for patients and families
  • Vocational Testing

We also work closely and collaborate with other programs within the National Institutes of Health including:

Additional patient services at NIH are described at:

Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists & Chaplains
A social worker will be in touch with you by phone prior to your first visit to help you arrange your transportation and stay either at The Children’s Inn at NIH or at a hotel. A social worker will also meet with you shortly after you arrive at the hospital to help you get settled, provide support and assess your current needs. The Social Work staff is available to support you and your family by offering counseling and information about referrals to services within the hospital and your home community. At anytime, if you need to talk to your social worker, have the clinic or hospital nurse call or page the social worker for you. Along with social workers, psychology and psychiatry staff members are also available to provide consultation, therapy and support to patients and their family members. The focus can be on managing stress, resolving emotional distress (anxiety, anger, depression, fear, grief), developing coping strategies, managing behavior and compliance, helping with conflicts in relationships (parent-child or family member-family member), pain management, developing social skills, or dealing with learning difficulties and issues of self-esteem and self-confidence.

Chaplains are also available, upon your request, to help you with spiritual support, counseling and sacramental needs. Chaplains have Bibles and other inspirational literature available that may be of comfort to you and your family during the treatment process.
If you would like to speak with a social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, or chaplain, ask your child’s doctor or nurse to help arrange this for you.

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This Page Last Reviewed on December 26, 2013

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