Family Counseling

A Clinic for Children and Their Families Coping with Chronic/Life-Threatening Illness or Loss

UAMS Medical Crisis and Loss Clinic

The experience of a life-threatening illness or death of a family member can be emotionally disruptive to a child's development, as well as to the child's entire family. Frequently, children experiencing problems in adjusting to loss or serious illness may demonstrate difficulties including increased sadness and anxiety, withdrawal from friends, decreased school achievement or medical nonadherence. The Medical Crisis and Loss Clinic was developed to assist children and families in coping with loss and change. It is a short-term intervention focused on improving long-term adjustment.

Who to Refer?

The clinic is intended for parents whose child has died, or children and adolescents who:

  • have experienced the death of a family member or close friend from an illness,
  • have experienced a loss of function from physical trauma, or
  • have difficulty coping with the diagnosis of a chronic or life-threatening illness.

The clinic is not intended for children whose primary problem is physical or sexual abuse, parental divorce, longstanding emotional problems or violent behavior.

Who Comes to the Appointment?

The clinic is flexible in its approach. An appointment can be made for an individual's child, parents or family.

Frequency of Visits

The initial visit is focused on understanding the issues facing the child and family. Subsequent visits may vary from a one-time consultation, such as parents requesting advice on how to talk with siblings, to several sessions, such as adapting to changes that accompany loss or chronic illness. Parents may wish to re-consult the clinic staff at a later point in time.

How to Make an Appointment

To arrange an appointment, please call 364-1830, request "intake" and then specifically request an appointment for the "Medical Crisis and Loss Clinic."


Shari Gaudette, Ph.D.
Wendy Ward-Begnoche, Ph.D.

Staff members are pediatric psychologists and faculty members of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Department of Pediatrics and on staff at Arkansas Children's Hospital.