Pediatric Associates of the NW Blogs

What is Behavioral Health?

Shannon Odell, PsyD
June 25, 2018 01:00AM

One of the many benefits of being a patient of Pediatric Associates of the Northwest—aside from world-class pediatricians and patient-centered care—is our very own behavioral health team.  Behavioral Health is becoming more common in pediatrics, but PANW has been on the front lines of incorporating this vital part of a child’s growth and development into its practice. Here’s a list of frequently asked questions about our behavioral health services.

Okay, so what exactly is Behavioral Health?

The term “Behavioral Health” means the impact of thoughts and actions on someone’s overall health and well-being. Since our brains and bodies are connected, the way we think and act can impact our physical health. The earlier we set healthy habits—whether mental or physical—the more likely we’ll continue them into adulthood. Pediatric Behavioral Health focuses on the mental health of children and adolescents. Our goal is to increase the likelihood of good physical and mental health as kids get older, and help intervene if things like depression, anxiety, or behavior difficulties have steered them off course. 

Who are PANW’s behavioral health providers?

PANW has four psychologists who make up the behavioral health team.

Portland Location:

Tamara Pederson, Ph.D. joined PANW in 2010 as it’s first-ever psychologist, launching what has become a thriving integrated care practice. In her role as Lead Psychologist, she provides guidance in the ongoing development of integrated care services at PANW. Dr. Pederson speaks of psychology as her “second career.” She first earned her Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy and worked for several years with children and adolescents challenged by multiple disabilities. Her interest in helping others and desire to learn led her to move on to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno in 1994. Dr. Pederson sought training and professional experiences that would prepare her to work with a wide variety of people and address a broad range of concerns. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Montana State University’s center for Counseling and Psychological Services and her post-doctoral work at Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center. Prior to joining PANW, Dr. Pederson worked in private practice settings and an integrated primary care clinic and provided psychological services in a general medical hospital within the emergency department, medical/surgical, obstetrics, and critical care units. Dr. Pederson continues to treat a wide variety of behavioral health concerns and utilizes a number of different evidence-based treatment approaches, such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and clinical hypnosis.  While her 25 years of professional psychology practice has honed her skills as a generalist, Dr. Pederson has a special love for integrated care and is honored to be of service to the children, adolescents, and young adults who choose PANW as their medical home. 

Justin Bush, Ph.D. began working in the psychology and behavioral sciences field with children and families 24 years ago as an undergraduate. After graduating from Gonzaga University, he sought out rich and diverse on-the-job learning experiences in both inpatient and outpatient programs as part of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit at Seattle Children's Hospital. Dr. Bush went on to earn his doctoral degree at the University of Washington. He completed his pre-doctoral internship at a prestigious family therapy agency, now known as the Momentous Institute, in Dallas, Texas. He gained invaluable professional experiences as a licensed school psychologist in both Washington and Texas. In Oregon, he completed a year-long post-doctoral residency including specialized training in structural-strategic family therapy, working for an Oregon Youth Authority grant-funded program facilitating school-based group counseling with expelled students, and led diversion program groups with crime-involved youth. In 2010, he co-founded a private practice named “Positive Development for Youth and Families” which primarily aimed to provide strength-based psychological assessment and therapeutic services. He joined PANW in mid-2011 to be part of an integrated team in promotion of holistic care.

Tigard Location:


Todd Hiller, Ph.D. has been helping families at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest since 2016.  Originally from Minnesota, Dr. Hiller received his Ph.D. in school psychology with a specialization in clinical neuropsychology from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana.  He completed his clinical internship at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles California in the evidence-based intervention training track, which focused on treatments that demonstrated research-proven benefits.   Dr. Hiller then completed a two-year neuropsychological fellowship at Our Children’s House of Baylor in Dallas, Texas.  Prior to PANW, Dr. Hiller previously worked as a pediatric psychologist/neuropsychologist for National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. 


Shannon Odell, Psy.D. is a dedicated pediatric psychologist whose goal is to provide the best care possible for her patients. She received her undergraduate degree at Gonzaga University (go Bulldogs!) and went on to complete her graduate education at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH where she received her doctorate in psychology. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and her post-doctoral fellowship at Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. Dr. Odell went on to work at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she was also granted a faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School. She worked as a sub-specialty psychologist in pediatric chronic pain at BCH’s pediatric pain rehabilitation center. Despite loving Boston and enjoying her job, Dr. Odell missed the Pacific Northwest and returned in 2014. She has worked at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest ever since, and is now happy to be working with children of all ages and is a general pediatric psychologist who works with many presenting problems. She is trained in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Dr. Odell also leads weekend parenting workshops that address common parenting challenges, tools to manage difficult behaviors, and strategies for fostering a healthy environment for your child to thrive in.

What services does behavioral health provide?

We provide two main services at PANW: therapy and assessment. Therapy can be brief and integrated into a child’s regular pediatrician visit (also known as a brief consult), or it can look like more “traditional therapy,” i.e., meeting periodically based on the patient’s needs until their goals are met. This time frame can vary based on the severity and complexity of the presenting problem, anywhere between 6 and 20 sessions.  Typical problems seen in therapy include anxiety, depression, and behavioral concerns.

Psychological assessment typically involves evaluating a child/teen’s behavior, personality, educational, and cognitive abilities to help answer either general or specific questions regarding a child’s functioning.  ADHD assessments are the most common forms of assessment given here at PANW.  We’re also lucky enough to have a neuropsychologist on staff, Dr. Todd Hiller, and he does testing with children in which there is a question of how an illness or injury of the brain affects cognitive functions and behaviors.

How do I set up an appointment with a behavioral health provider?

There are two ways to set up an appointment to meet with one of us.  The first is to talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. He or she can help you determine if meeting with a BH provider would be helpful.  If one of us is available, we can briefly meet with you to discuss your concerns that same day.  The second route is called a “self-referral.” Call the main phone number for your primary location and inform one of our staff that you’re interested in meeting with a BH provider. They’ll help you get the process started. Please be aware that we usually have a wait list of at least 30 days (sometimes longer), which is typical of most psychology providers in the area.  You will be notified of the current wait time by our Behavioral Health Care Manager.

Wait, what’s a Behavioral Health Care Manager?

Kelly Jacobson is our BH Care Manager. Boy does she have a big job! Aside from helping to manage our schedules, she helps to get patients scheduled in a timely manner, she is often the first contact for parents who are interested in behavioral health services, and she helps find resources in the community, when possible.  Once you express interest in meeting with one the BH providers, you will receive an email from Kelly through our secure portal to let you know you’re officially on the wait list and how long it will take to schedule your first appointment. She will also make sure you receive the correct paperwork to fill out before that first meeting.

Speaking of, what should we expect at our first appointment?

Your first appointment may be very different from another patient’s, depending on your child’s age, the psychologist you meet with, and your BH needs. There are, though, some general things you can expect.  You and your child will talk about the problems that brought you to therapy or prompted the assessment, including how long it’s been going on, how the problem/symptoms get in the way of normal life, and how often the problem or symptoms occur. You’ll also probably talk about what you and/or your child would like to work on in therapy or what questions you would like the assessment to answer, and come up with a plan for what to do next.

If your first appointment is a brief consult, then during the course of a typical medical appointment for your child, your pediatrician informed you that meeting with a behavioral health provider might be helpful. If that’s the case and you and your child agree, one of the BH providers will join you in your appointment to briefly discuss the problem and make recommendations for next steps.

Do you take all the same insurances that the PANW pediatricians do?

Unfortunately, no.  If you’re interested in seeing a BH provider, please give us a call to see if your insurance plan is covered. If we don’t, fear not! Just give your insurance company a call or go to their website to see who in the community is covered.