Pediatric Behavioral Health in Neurology

If your child has a nervous system disease, our behavioral health experts can help.

Behavioral health providers integrated into the Division of Neurology at UPMC Children’s Hospital provide collaborative care with you and your child’s medical team to provide support and intervention to improve health outcomes.

Children's Neurologic Conditions We Treat

Our behavioral health providers work closely with your child's neurology care team to address a range of nervous system issues.

We offer many care options, including mindfulness training, relaxation techniques, and cognitive-behavioral health therapy (CBT).


Headaches are common in children. Behavioral health providers at the Headache Clinic provide diagnostic evaluations and evidence-based treatment.

Our treatments for headaches can help your child:

  • Manage stress.
  • Manage pain without medicine.
  • Learn coping skills through CBT.

Stress is a main trigger for a headache — and headaches are also stressful to the body. That's why our behavioral health experts teach children about the relationship between pain and stress.

Your child will learn how their body responds to stress and skills to cope, including:

  • Relaxation training — such as belly breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and autogenics.
  • Mindfulness training.

Behavioral health care for movement disorders

At the Movement Disorders Clinic, behavioral health providers provide brief, targeted treatment for tics and functional neurological disorder (FND).

Tic disorders treatment

Our behavioral health providers use Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) for children with tic disorders and Tourette syndrome.

CBIT treatment includes:

  • Functional-based assessment.
  • Awareness training.
  • Competing response training.
  • Relaxation training and ways to maintain gains made from therapy.

FND treatment

Our behavioral health experts work with other members of your child's care team to provide complete care for FND.

Our team will assess your child and then, through three to six months of therapy, help them:

  • Learn what FND is and how it works in their body.
  • Create a plan to manage non-epileptic events (NEE).
  • Return to school and other activities.

Treatment includes:

  • Recognizing and managing emotions and NEE.
  • Relaxation training.
  • CBT.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for Nervous System Disorders

Individual talk therapy

Our behavioral health providers uses CBT for children with headaches and movement disorders. Therapy is brief (six to 12 sessions), structured, and focuses on teaching coping skills.

We often involve parents and caregivers to help children reach the goals of their treatment plan.

Group therapy for pain

Through a partnership with Boston Children's Hospital, UPMC Children's offers the Virtual Comfort Ability Program (VCAPS).

This group helps children ages 10 to 17 manage chronic or recurring pain and improve their day-to-day life.

Through VCAPS, your child will:

  • Learn how pain functions in the body and techniques to help manage it.
  • Design their own plan to manage pain and pain-related stress.
  • Connect with other kids who have pain.

Parents and caregivers will learn:

  • Methods that promote your child's comfort.
  • How to support your child's improved function at home and school.
  • Where to find more pain management support.

To learn more about VCAPS at UPMC Children's, email