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Psychosocial Support for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer


Adolescent and young adults with cancer have access to a comprehensive psychosocial support system, developed to assist all patients and their families during their cancer at Vanderbilt.

Social work support

Our licensed social workers provide psychosocial support. Their expertise and contributions to your child's care involve the psychological and social impact of their healthcare needs.

At the time of diagnosis, one of our social workers meets with your child and family. Their comprehensive psychosocial assessment will tell us what kinds of support care your child needs. We look at the impact of the illness on your child and family, coping styles, family composition, legal and custody issues, cultural or religious preferences, barriers to care, existing assets and resources, immediate financial concerns, school and employment issues, family and community support systems and family’s strengths.

Our social workers provide crisis intervention, patient and family short-term counseling, advocacy information and referral to hospital and community resources. They liaison with community agencies, look for signs of abuse or neglect, assess the impact of a hospital discharge on your child and family and assist in locating financial resources.  These social work services continue for both inpatient hospitalizations and clinic appointments throughout your child's cancer treatment.

Mental health services

Our dedicated oncology mental health team is led by a board-certified psychiatrist. This specialist is an expert in managing mental health complications that may come with serious medical illness, such as depression, anxiety and panic disorders. Our mental health team includes psychiatry doctors and nurse practitioners with a special interest in adolescent and young adult oncology.

We strongly encourage our patients to see our mental health team within the first two months of diagnosis. They will have the opportunity for weekly to monthly visits as needed.

These mental health services are available on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Our psychiatric cancer outpatient clinic hours take place each Thursday afternoon in our cancer clinic. Patients may use this service either as needed, or on a regular schedule our mental health team may recommend.

Music therapy

Our board-certified music therapists provide evidence-based music therapy to our patients. They work with your child and family to help them cope with the stress of hospitalization. This in-clinic therapy accomplish goals of pain management, reduction of physiological and emotional stress and anxiety, emotional expression, improving strength and stamina and normalizing the environment.

Work with adolescents involves establishing rapport and using patient-preferred music to meet the patient where they are and help them achieve their health goals. Songwriting, music and imagery, musical improvisation, lyric discussion and singing are some of the music therapy interventions in use.

Art therapy

A board-certified art therapist and licensed professional counselor provide clinical art therapy services to individual patients and groups at Children’s Hospital. Art therapy is an established mental health practice that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance physical, mental and emotional well-being. Evidence shows that the creative process helps patients resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness and achieve insight.

The goals of art therapy sessions depend on your child's and family's needs. Experience or skill with art or art materials is not a requirement to participate in art therapy.


Our Hospital School serves patients in grades Kindergarten through 12 who are enrolled in school. Hospital teachers manage school sessions provided by certified teachers or volunteer tutors during hospital admissions. Advocacy support may be available that includes educating your family about the impact of illness on schooling. We can help connect you with services through your child's local school, guide you in securing appropriate services and recommend a plan of action.