Texas Tech University

Texas Tech and University Medical Center Establish Children's Behavioral Health Clinic

Ashley Brister

September 24, 2019

The partnership increases access to mental health care for kids and their families.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six children between the ages of 2 and 8 has a mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. Texas Tech University and University Medical Center (UMC) are teaming up to help these children and their families, regardless of their location.


The Children's Behavioral Health Clinic is a partnership between Texas Tech's Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy program, the Department of Psychological Sciences and UMC to provide therapy for pediatric patients, couples and their families.

Nicole Piland, a licensed marriage and family therapist and director of Texas Tech's Family Therapy Clinic, says the idea for the clinic came from UMC's Pediatric Trauma and Burn Care departments, which needed a way to screen and treat pediatric trauma patients in an effort to prevent or reduce the development of post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The hospital-based and clinic-based services will support families through the recovery process in the same location as their medical provider," said Piland, an associate professor of practice in Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy. "The teletherapy will allow access to services for families living outside of Lubbock County or in areas where mental-health services are not available."


Local patients can attend sessions on the UMC Lubbock campus, but the clinic also will offer teletherapy in the coming months to better serve the region's rural communities. Specifically designed for pediatric patients and their families, the clinic will provide expert mental and social health services for the Level I Trauma Center hospital.

Beyond patient-family services, the clinic will facilitate graduate student learning to develop graduate-level clinicians. Community members will have the opportunity to provide honest feedback through the implementation of community-based participatory research. The resulting data will be used to improve services and training efforts, with the hope that the program will become a model for the nation.

Currently, the clinic includes in-room treatments for patients and their families as well as outpatient services located in the UMC Medical Office Plaza I, suite 250.

Services provided at the Children's Behavioral Health Clinic include:

  • Psychoeducation related to medical trauma
  • Trauma-related assessment
  • Support groups
  • Coping with acute and chronic medical issues
  • Management of depression and/or anxiety
  • Dealing with physical and emotional trauma
  • Therapy related to family violence, grief, loss and more

Cameron C. Brown, an assistant professor in Couple, Marriage and Family Therapy, says the flexibility of inpatient, outpatient and the upcoming telecounseling services will set patients up for long-term success in their recovery journeys.

"With UMC's patients coming from all corners of Texas, New Mexico and other bordering states, many of which travel several hours, it is important we ensure our services are accessible to them," Brown said. "These teletherapy services will ensure that they can continue to receive mental and behavioral health treatment without traveling several hours back to UMC."

Telecounseling is set to begin in early 2020.

"This specific service will offer even more flexibility to the patient and family receiving treatment as they will be able to use video capabilities to meet with one of our clinicians after medical discharge from the hospital," Brown said.


Growing evidence in academia now illustrates the importance of attending to the physical, social and mental dimensions of a patient's overall health and well-being, Brown explained.

"This research suggests that these three facets of a patient are interdependent on one another in that, as one is improved, there is a higher likelihood the other two dimensions also will improve," he said. "Both in-room hospital services and clinic-based services will serve to support families through the recovery process in the same location as their medical provider. Research has indicated that this integrated approach has several benefits to the patient and family, as well as the hospital and medical professionals."

Moving forward, research will play an integral role in the evaluation of services to ensure that the clinic is regularly improving and sharing its innovative approaches with professionals around the country.