The Kentucky Children’s Hospital Psychology Division’s mission is to make children’s, adolescents’ and their families’ journey with their medical condition or injury better. We do this by partnering with medical teams to promote overall health and well-being in children with medical conditions by providing compassionate, evidenced-based interventions and mental health care, conducting research to inform clinical practice, and training healthcare providers (inclusive of mental health clinicians) in trauma-informed medical care.


I am honored to serve as the acting Chief of the Psychology Division in the Department of Pediatrics here at UK HealthCare. Our team truly values partnering with patients and families as they navigate medical conditions and care, offering evidence-based interventions designed to decrease stress and  worries and distress and increase positive coping strategies. Clinically, we work as interdisciplinary members of medical teams with a shared goal of optimizing overall health for our pediatric and adolescent patients. We also have a passion for conducting research with an overarching goal of  improving mental health and patient care. Finally, we offer many educational opportunities, training current and future healthcare providers (including mental health providers) on the integration of mental health as part of physical health. I am excited about our growing team and our ability to support the health of Kentucky’s children, teens, young adults, and their families.


Mental health is a part of physical health. Historically, medical care for physical health and mental health have been addressed separately. However, we have learned that mental health is part of overall health. Pediatric Psychology creates the bridge for more holistic/comprehensive care for the whole child and family. The Pediatric Psychology division is a team of providers here at UK Healthcare, uniquely trained to help babies, children, teens and their families with the challenges of dealing with medical conditions.

At UK HealthCare, the pediatric psychology team works to provide evidence-based care to assist babies, children, teens and their family on their medical journey. Pediatric Psychologists focus on attending to the mental health needs and / or challenges for children and teens who have medical conditions, such as an illness or injury. We also provide care for families who have babies in the NICU.  Our team works to promote all aspects of health: physical, social, and mental health.

Our Services

Our pediatric psychology team specializes in providing mental health services in the context of your child’s medical journey…

  • We are part of your child’s medical care team and work with your team to take a holistic approach to medical care. 
  • We collaborate with your child’s medical team and other specialists
  • We offer psychological assessments specific to how your child’s medical condition and treatment may be impacting their mental health and vice versa.
  • We offer evidence-based treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, non-pharmacological pain management strategies, and other strategies to support children, teens, and families.
  • We can help the whole family navigate medical conditions and care including siblings, parents, and other caregivers.
  • The Pediatric Psychology Team provide services to patients throughout UK HealthCare, including Kentucky Children’s Hospital and Outpatient Clinics.
  • Are you a patient? – check out our Healthcare page!

Clinical Care Goals and Values

Our research mission aligns with our clinical mission: Through our research, we aim to make children’s, adolescents’ and their families’ journey with their medical condition or injury better. To work achieve this mission, we conduct research to

  • Help us better understand children’s and families’ experiences and perspectives of their medical condition and care
  • Develop validated tools and screening systems to help identify the needs of our children and families when they are engaging in medical care
  • Create and evaluate interventions to support our families
  • Evaluate trauma-informed medical care programs and initiatives

Evidenced-based Clinical Care

Provide patients and their families with evidence-based mental health interventions (i.e., care based on what we know works from what we’ve learned from other families).

Respect Diversity in Experiences

Recognize that every person comes in with a unique set of experiences and life challenges. Provide care with cultural humility.

Clinical Education

Train future mental health professionals in evidence-based pediatric psychology. Teach trauma-informed medical care trainings to interdisciplinary medical teams at Kentucky Children’s Hospital and across the nation.

Compassionate Care

Approach our patients and their families with compassion.

Specialized Clinical Care for Kentuckians

Respond and attend to the distinctive needs of Kentuckians.

Are you a patient?

Pediatric Psychology is different from many mental health providers. We provide therapy services that focus on the effects of medical conditions, significant illnesses and medical traumatic stress.

Check out our Healthcare page

Learn more


The PATH Research Team is dedicated to the improvement of over all health, inclusive of mental health, for Kentuckians as well as nationally, and globally. With groundbreaking studies and publications, community and national outreach, partnerships with national organizations,  the PATH Research team focuses on investigating the complexities of medical traumatic stress and other psychological sequalae, social determinants of health, and how this relates to overall health and wellness.

Our research is funded by a variety of mechanisms including grant funding, foundation funding, philanthropic funding, and university / department support.

Current Research Projects

Understanding and Addressing Medical Traumatic Stress in Youth with Cystic Fibrosis

  • We are currently leading research, collaborating with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, to better understand the challenges of youth living with CF and to create an intervention targeting decreasing medical traumatic stress.

Social Determinants of Health, Temperament and Medical Traumatic Stress

  • This research examines the utility of temperament and structural vulnerabilities in screening for risk for PMTS with the goal of developing tailored interventions and improving health equity.

Supporting Caregivers of Youth with Inherited Cancer Risk

  • We are conducting a pilot study, partnering with the Division of Hem/Onc, to learn about the challenges of the caregiving role for youth with an inherited cancer syndrome.

Trauma-Informed Care for Pain in Pediatric Cancer Projects

  • In partnership with colleagues at University of Louisville, we are working to create and evaluate a psychoeducational trauma-informed intervention for pediatric pain in youth with cancer.

Trauma-Informed Medical Care

  • In this research, we are evaluating a trauma-informed medical care training on how it impacts, TIC knowledge, confidence, provider satisfaction, and burnout.

Quality Improvement Projects

  • We currently have quality improvement work that is assessing and responding to distress related to oral food challenges and allergy shots.
  • We are working on an initiative to implement mental health screeners for caregivers in the NICU to identify families that may benefit from additional intervention.

Getting Creative to Support Kids with Medical Distress

  • We have started creating social stories with stuffed animals, in collaboration with our patients, their caregivers, and providers with clear, concrete information about what to expect during particular medical appointment and procedures, as well as coping strategies.

Completed Research Projects

Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes in Young Children during COVID-19

As part of an international collaboration with 8 countries, we collected data to examine how COVID-19 impacted families of children with young children (ages 1-5 years old). Results are forth coming.

  • De Young, A.C., Vasileva, M., Boruszak-Kiziukiewicz, J., Demipence Seçintie, D., Christie, H., Egbertsh, M.R., Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous, X., Marsac, M.L., Ruiz, G., and COVID-19 Unmasked Global Collaboration. COVID-19 Unmasked Global Collaboration Protocol: Longitudinal cohort study examining mental health of young children and caregivers during the pandemic. European Journal of Psychotraumatology. 2021; 12:1. doi: 10.1080/20008198.2021.194076

Cellie Coping Kit for Children with Injury

We recently completed an pilot RCT examining how the intervention impacted intended targets of posttraumatic stress and health-related quality of life.

  • Marsac, M.L., Weiss, D., Kohser, K.,L.,Van Allen, J., Seegan, P., Ostrowski-Delahanty, S., McGar, A., Winston, F.K., & Kassam-Adams, N. The Cellie Coping Kit for Children with Injury: Initial feasibility, acceptability, and outcomes. Child Care Health Development. 2018;44:599–606. doi.org/10.1111/cch.12565

Cellie Coping Kit for Siblings of Children with Special Medical Needs

We conducted a small pilot study to examine feasibility and acceptability of this newly developed intervention.


  • Kassam-Adams, N., Kohser, K.L., McLaughlin, J., Winston, F.,  Marsac, M.L. Evaluating the acceptability and validity of assessing pain and posttraumatic stress symptoms in an adaptable eHealth screening system for school age children. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology. 2019; 7 (1): 9 – 19. doi: 10.1037/cpp0000261.

Sample Honor’s theses / Capstone projects

  • Katelyn Freese: Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms and Health-Related Quality of Life as Risk Factors in Pediatric Injury Population
  • Natalie Majors: Sibling Coping and Intervention: Application of the Cellie Coping Kit for Siblings
  • Emma Vallee: Phantom Limb Pain in Pediatric Oncology

Select Publications

  • Smith-Thomas, Tess & Marsac, Meghan & Day, S. & Autry, E. & Wurth, M.. (2022). 297 Mental health symptoms and physical health outcomes in youth with cystic fibrosis. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. 21. S176. 10.1016/S1569-1993(22)00987-0.
  • Vasileva, M., Marsac, M.L., Alisic, E., Cobham, V.E., Davis, S.H., Donovan, C., Hildenbrand, A.K., Hoehn, E., March, S., Miller, A.B., Smith-Thomas, T.E., Wamser-Nanney, R., De Young, A. (2022). Preschooler Stressor-related Thoughts and Worries during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Development and validation of a caregiver-report instrument. Traumatology.
  • Marsac, M.L., & Wurth, M.A. Opportunities to Support Emotional Health in School-Age Children with Food Allergy. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2021; 126(6): 728-729. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2021.02.017
  • Marsac, M.L., Kindler, C., Weiss, D., Ragsdale, L. Let’s Talk about It: Supporting Family Communication During End-of-Life Care of Pediatric Patients, Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2018, 21(6): 862-878. doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2017.030
  • Marsac, M.L., Davis, S. H., Miller, A. B., Smith-Thomas, T. E., Wamser-Nanney, R., De Young, A., Hildenbrand, A. K. (under review). Tantrums and Tea Parties: Emotional Health of Young Children and Their Caregivers During COVID-19

For more research by our team, click here!