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Lamia P. Barakat, PhD


Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

My role is to coordinate psychosocial programs for the Division of Oncology at Children's Hospital to provide the most effective support to our patients and their families. The child’s primary oncologist and/or social worker consult psychologists when they believe children with cancer and their families might benefit from additional support and intervention.

As the director of Psychosocial Services, I’m proud of the comprehensive, integrated psychosocial care we provide to children with cancer and their families. These services include social work, child life, teacher and school support -- as well as creative arts therapists and psychologists. Our psychosocial staff members are leaders in the field in psychosocial research on child, sibling and family adaptation to cancer and its treatment. They also excel in psychosocial assessment approaches to guide supportive interventions and interventions that promote resilience during treatment and into survivorship.

Through multiple psychosocial programs for all members of the family, the Division of Oncology provides essential services to help children and their families successfully navigate the diagnosis and treatment process. Typically, every child and family is assigned a social worker and child life specialist. They also have access to hospital teachers and educational liaison to aid school reentry.

In the Division of Oncology at Children's Hospital, psychological services consider the whole child in the context of their developmental level, family and home life, school and community supports and unique strengths and resources. We're interested in understanding who the child and family were before the diagnosis of cancer and what their hopes and dreams are for the future. Together, after standard psychological and behavioral assessment, we work to establish a plan to meet a set of common goals around management of the cancer and treatment, adaptation to hospitalization and transition back to home and school.

My own expertise lies in how children and their families come together to address cancer diagnosis and treatment: how they can collaborate and support each other to meet the challenges of childhood cancer, while improving their quality of life. My research involves examining both risk and resilience when chronic medical conditions in childhood are present, particularly within the family and in the larger cultural context.

In addition to child and caregiver competencies, my work also seeks to understand health disparities relating to follow-up care and participation in clinical research. The ultimate goal is to improve access to the best possible medical and psychosocial treatment for all our children with cancer and their families.


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