Certificate in Pediatric Psychosocial Care

Develop skills relevant to studying and meeting the psychosocial needs of children and families facing healthcare challenges and foundational knowledge of the child life profession.

Certificate Overview

Pediatric patients with special healthcare needs and their families experience a range of challenges in navigating various contexts of development. Data suggest that the majority of professionals whose role it is to support children’s success in academic settings and to foster psychosocial and physical well-being in children and youth are ill prepared to meet the complex needs of this particularly vulnerable population. This certificate will prepare future youth-serving professionals with a unique set of research and practice skills to understand and respond to the psychosocial needs of children and families with special healthcare needs. Meeting these needs can lead to more positive healthcare encounters and improved behavioral, psychological and academic outcomes for the most vulnerable children and youth.

This certificate is best suited for future healthcare, education, advocacy, and youth-serving professionals, such as those working in education, special education, healthcare, counseling, applied behavior analysis, severe disabilities, or child and family advocacy.

Career Opportunities

This certificate will provide recipients with a unique set of skills relevant to further scholarly study or for careers in practice settings where children with special healthcare needs are served, such as hospitals, schools, or youth-serving community settings.

Photo headshot of Vicki Harris

Vicki Harris, Associate Professor of the Practice of Psychology and Human Development

“Pediatric patients are present in various youth-serving organizations alongside families and peers. Through this certificate, we will be able to prepare future youth-serving professionals with a skill set that will help facilitate the success of pediatric patients outside of the hospital.”

Certificate Details

Certificate Director: Vicki Harris, Jessika Boles

Required Hours: 12

Prerequisites: Completed Bachelor's degree plus current enrollment in a master's or doctoral degree program within Vanderbilt University. Successful completion of undergraduate or graduate coursework in child development and research methods is a prerequisite to enrollment.

Home Academic Department: Psychology and Human Development

Note: Not all Peabody professional degree programs include enough elective credits to make earning an additional certificate possible. Students are encouraged to confer with their program director as well as with certificate directors to ensure they can meet all requirements for both degree and certificate programs.

Certificate Curriculum

The following courses are required:

  • The Hospitalized Child (PSY-PC 7210)
  • Pediatric Research Design (PSY-PC 7220)
  • Play-Based Intervention (PSY-PC 7230)
  • Death, Grief, and Loss (PSY-PC 7500)

Note: Certificate courses are subject to change.

Certificate Outcomes

Through this certificate, students will develop skills relevant to:

  • Understanding the complex psychosocial needs of children, adolescents and families in health care settings and situations
  • Conducting pediatric healthcare research with children and their families and identifying evidence-based techniques for improving the quality and efficacy of medical and psychosocial care and research with/for children
  • Identifying seminal and contemporary theories of loss and grief, and examining evidence-based interventions that positively impact loss and grief trajectories for children and families