Child Psychiatry and Inpatient Psychiatric Care at Norton Children’s Hospital Services

Psychiatric emergency services

Children and teens with a psychiatric emergency are seen in the Norton Children’s Hospital emergency department, if needed, and then assessed and evaluated by a designated mental health provider. The appropriate level of care is then determined by a psychiatrist, and a recommendation for inpatient or outpatient services is given. Our team will help your family connect with outpatient resources that your child may need.

Ackerly Child Psychiatric Unit

Norton Children’s Hospital offers inpatient psychiatric care for children ages 2 to 17 through the Ackerly Child Psychiatric Unit. Our mission is to help children and families reach their fullest potential in a nurturing and safe environment. We are equipped to serve patients with developmental disabilities and autism, and extend care regardless of a family’s background or ability to pay. We believe each child has worth and dignity, and that therapeutic possibilities exist for all children.

A key feature of the unit is access to a full range of medical care and psychiatric treatment while at Norton Children’s Hospital. Our medical team provides daily individual therapy and determines what role medications may or may not play in treating the illness. Access to this care ensures that the mental and physical health needs of all children and adolescents in the unit are met.

Therapeutic services

Play and group therapies

Most patients participate in either play or group therapies based on their developmental needs. An assessment helps determine which type of therapy will be most effective in identifying, safely expressing and effectively dealing with specific issues.

Expressive therapies

Expressive therapies, including art, music, drama and movement, are offered as part of daily programming. They provide opportunities for creative and nonverbal expression, which can be diagnostically and therapeutically helpful. For many children, this type of therapy is an ideal way to determine the source of their anxieties and conflicts, since communication can be accomplished without words. Expressive therapies may help children find outlets for their feelings and provide a sense of mastery and self-sufficiency at a time when events in their lives seem out of control. Over time, a collection of artwork provides a visual record of a child or adolescent’s progress.

Additional comprehensive services

Social worker consultation

Each patient and family will be assigned a social worker to provide support during times of crisis. The social worker can meet in therapeutic sessions with family members to help set realistic goals for the patient while in the hospital and at home. Social workers help families arrange discharge planning and follow-up care, as needed.


Upon admission to the unit, students are automatically enrolled in the Jefferson County Public Schools system to ensure they are not counted absent at their regular school. This educational program includes two teachers with special education certifications and an instructional assistant. Students are evaluated to determine their reading and math skills. Small-group instruction is provided using a curriculum that meets state standards as well as individual needs and learning styles.

Pastoral care

Pastoral care services are available for spiritual support during a child’s treatment, in situations of grief or loss, or for family support while a child is hospitalized. Chaplains can lead relaxation or spiritual group sessions, participate in drama therapy or contact the family’s clergy at a parent or guardian’s request.

The Norton Children’s difference

With a 125-year presence in Louisville, Norton Children’s is a leader in pediatric care across Kentucky and Southern Indiana, providing an expanded footprint that includes:

Norton Children’s offers specialized programs and services, including:

  • Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, and the Addison Jo Blair Cancer Care Center, which is one of the oldest oncology programs continuously accredited by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer.
  • Norton Children’s Heart & Vascular Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery. Norton Children’s heart transplant surgeons performed Kentucky’s first heart transplant in a newborn in 1986, making the hospital the second site in the United States for infant transplants. Norton Children’s Hospital will be home to the Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (expected completion in 2019).
  • Pediatric neurology and neurosurgery, including a Level 4 epilepsy center
  • Orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation
  • The Wendy Novak Diabetes Center
Developmental-behavioral pediatrics and Genetics – 5347

Call for More Information

(502) 629-KIDS

Psychiatry and Psychology – 6305

Norton Children’s Child Psychiatry and Psychology Services

Call for information

(502) 629-6305

If you have an emergency situation or crisis, call 911 or visit the closest emergency department.

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