Young boy at Joslin's teddy bear clinic.

Helping Children and Families Cope with Diabetes

Diabetes can be overwhelming. It requires you and your child to think constantly about food, activities, school schedules — and how these factors impact blood glucose levels and insulin doses. This is all on top of a child’s usual worries about making friends, fitting in, and excelling in school and sports.

Joslin Diabetes Center’s Behavioral Health Program is here to support your child and your whole family as you learn how to navigate diabetes. Our Behavioral Health team includes expert psychologists and social workers who specialize in counseling children, adolescents, adults, couples, families and other caregivers. 

We work with children and teens who are newly-diagnosed or who are feeling burned out with their diabetes plan. We also meet with people who are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle or who are struggling with family conflicts about diabetes and other life stressors.

Counseling Services

Our Behavioral Health team offers age-appropriate ways to learn about the condition and how to manage it well. In addition, we work with family members to plan and organize how diabetes is managed at home.

When a child or teen is diagnosed with diabetes, new emotional issues can surface. Our Behavioral Health specialists can help your family manage the issues that commonly arise with a diagnosis, including:

  • Adjustment to life with diabetes
  • Resistance or concerns about sticking to a diabetes care plan
  • Eating problems
  • Burn-out
  • Depression and anxiety
  • School difficulties or behavioral problems

We also teach family members about the demands of diabetes. And, when needed, we refer patients to local mental health providers, support groups, camps, and other resources. In our counseling sessions, we can help your child or teen:

  • Ease into the adjustment of living with diabetes
  • Cope with diabetes and the daily management of this condition
  • Develop positive lifestyle habits
  • Make sustained health changes
  • Manage depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout — whether it's about family, school or peer relationships
  • Handle food concerns and weight management
  • Overcome fears of hypoglycemia

Our Specialists

Debbie Butler
Debbie Butler, MSW, LICSW, CDE
Clinical Social Worker
Director, Behavioral Health and Pediatric Programs
Lecturer in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Persis Commissariat
Persis Commissariat, PhD, CDCES
Pediatric Psychologist
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School
Research Associate
Amit Shapira
Amit Shapira, PhD
Clinical Psychologist
Instructor in Psychology, Harvard Medical School

To make an appointment in our Pediatric Clinic, call 617-732-2603. 

If it is after work hours and your child needs urgent medical attention, call 617-309-2400 and ask for the On-Call Pediatric Endocrinologist.