Pediatric rehabilitation psychology: Rehabilitating a moving target


Kaufman, J. N., Lahey, S., & Slomine, B. S. (2017). Pediatric rehabilitation psychology: Rehabilitating a moving target. Rehabilitation Psychology, 62(3), 223–226.


Kaufman, Lahey, and Slomine (2017) reviewed the literature regarding the unique goals and focus of rehabilitation psychologists who work with pediatric clients. The authors identified four pediatric-specific focus areas of rehabilitation psychologists’ practice. The first focus area that was identified was habilitation, in which psychologists work with youths to cultivate new skills to support progression through development. This focus is particularly relevant to rehabilitation psychologists who work with youths with congenital disabilities or prematurity as the course of milestone development differ in each client and may be highly impacted by motor and sensory disabilities. Another focus of pediatric rehabilitation psychologists is working with youths to regain skills which were lost due to illness or injury, while also supporting the youth in habilitation of new skills as the youth moves through development. For example, Kaufman et al. (2017) identified the specific needs of a youth who experienced a traumatic injury. The rehabilitation psychologist is not only focused on assisting the youth regain any lost skills from the brain injury, but also supporting the youth in fulfilling developmental milestones, such as keeping up with school requirements. The third focus of a pediatric rehabilitation psychologist is working within complex teams, including other healthcare providers, entire family units, academic institutions, and other social systems within the youth’s life. Finally, the fourth focus of is to facilitate the youths transition through each developmental milestone such that the youth is able to meet compounding demands, while also promoting the youth to have meaningful participation in their community. Kaufman et al. (2017) highlighted the growing number pediatric rehabilitation psychologists, while maintaining the field of rehabilitation psychology has not yet defined competency and training requirements for psychologists who work primarily with pediatric populations.

I CHOSE THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE I am a psychology trainee with a major interest in pediatric rehabilitation psychology. I appreciated the authors delineating the unique demands and focus of serving pediatric populations and their families. As the field of pediatric rehabilitation psychology continues to develop, constructing competencies and training requirements specific to the intricacies of pediatrics will strengthen rehabilitation psychologist’s ability to provide the best treatment for youths and their families.

THIS MONTH’S REHAB SCIENCE SPOTLIGHT was selected by Cassie Ross, MS, Psychology Trainee at the American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University San Francisco Bay Area; Division 22 Campus Chapter Chair; Member of Division 22 Science Committee.