Meet Caren Schmidt, PsyD
The Clinic’s lead Pediatric Behavioral Health provider, Dr. Caren Schmidt, has had a life-long passion for helping children. “I’ve wanted to be a child psychologist since I was 13 years old,” she reports.
Schmidt’s interest was sparked when, as a junior camp counselor, she was able to help a troubled child. This started her on a path that included completing a doctorate and working at SF General Hospital – all with a special interest in helping underserved children who have suffered from trauma.
Two years ago, she was recruited by the Clinic to expand our Pediatric Behavioral Health Program. Clinic leader Mitesh Popat, MD, MPH reports that the program has grown tremendously since she joined. “Previously, we assessed patients and referred them for treatment. Now, we provide 8-10 therapy sessions; offer individual, group and family therapy; and, train graduate students.”
In addition to overseeing the program and supervising interns, Dr. Schmidt sees patients 2 ½ days ∕ week. “Many of these children suffer from problems such as homelessness, domestic violence, fear of their parents being deported, and painful past events in their home countries. Their issues show up in different ways – problems in school and at home, depression, anxiety, fear, and mood changes.”
Behavioral health part of fully integrated care
Schmidt credits both the Clinic’s providers and the families with making her job meaningful. “The caliber of providers is unparalleled,” she explains. “Our pediatricians are knowledgeable, compassionate, and very attuned to their patients’ psychosocial needs. And we are fully integrated – the primary care providers often call us the moment they identify an issue, and we are there on the spot to help.”
“The families are amazing,” concludes Schmidt. “They will do whatever is necessary to help their children. Even after everything they’ve been through, they are resilient. It is an honor to work with them. I love working here!”