Pediatric psychologists specialize in working with children and families to support the emotional and behavioral aspects commonly accompanying illness or injury. They are most often found in pediatric healthcare settings such as children’s hospitals or pediatric primary care. For many years I worked in pediatric medical settings with children affected by a variety of serious health conditions, and I specialized in working with families affected by pediatric cancer.
Throughout my career I have been inspired by the resilient children and families I have met. Working with children, especially those facing such extraordinary challenges, can be filled with times of joy, humor, and excitement – invigorating and hope-filled moments that motivate me. But I have been equally humbled by the enormity faced by families caring for a child with serious health challenges. The tremendous impact on parents and caregivers of children cannot be reduced to just a few words, but it is clear that the ripple effects are great, and, for these families, life will never be the same.
Even though I first chose this career because I love working with children, I quickly learned that caring for children with illness requires caring for the entire family. This notion is backed by science too. We know that:
A child’s illness effects all family members.
Parents may have an especially difficult time.
The parent’s wellbeing effects the child’s wellbeing.
Despite these well-known facts, parents and caregivers still do not have access to all the resources and information that could help them during their caregiving journey. Several years ago, I began to shift my work to focus more directly to improving the mental health and other psychosocial needs of parents.
When I discovered Courageous Parent Network, I was excited by the material I found on their website and wished I’d discovered it years ago! I soon understood that CPN has a special way of connecting critical information to parents and the people supporting them. This information, which comes from the experiences of parent and clinician experts, makes for a robust and effective way to meet informational and practical needs of those caring for ill children.
My enthusiasm for CPN has grown as I have come to appreciate the balanced approach that CPN takes in its work. CPN is planful and adaptive, employs wisdom and common sense, and delivers in an empathic and direct manner. I have chosen to work at CPN for these reasons and because CPN knows that:
- Outcomes for children are better when parents are supported, equipped, and are empowered to advocate and collaborate.
- Parents and caregivers deserve to feel their best – which is more likely to happen when they feel they have the tools they need to support their child and themselves.
- Clinicians are critically positioned to enhance the illness trajectory for parents and families.
It’s an honor to be joining Courageous Parents Network and I look forward to what’s to come. You may reach me at Chrissy@courageousparentsnetwork.org.