Families often experience complicated psycho-social issues when a child or parent is diagnosed with a serious illness or there are other traumatic events within a family.
For example, it is not unusual for any of the following to trigger a family crisis, which invariably has serious consequences for children:
- a diagnosis of serious illness of a child or parent
- an acute traumatic event including violence in the family or community
- admission of an infant to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
- a non-medical traumatic event
- a dramatic change in the family dynamic through death, divorce, separation or any other event.
In each of these cases, families are understandably overwhelmed. The mission of the Family Support Assessment Clinic at Boston Medical Center, part of the Department of Pediatrics, is to provide families appropriate information that will serve children affected by such events in two ways:
1) by preparing parents to cope with the stressor that precipitated the crisis
2) by increasing capacity to rally support from extended family, community, school, church, etc., which helps address isolation, a hallmark of traumatic loss
The Family Support Assessment Clinic works collaboratively with the pediatric clinician treating children whose families are experiencing trauma. In particular, we help clinicians:
- help the parent more fully understand what the trauma means to the child
- recognize symptoms of the stressor
- use language more effectively
- access additional resources when necessary
The clinic is staffed by a developmental and behavioral pediatrician and a mental health clinician. Referring providers are welcome to attend the visit if a team approach would be supportive.