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What are the goals of the Comfort Ability Program workshops?

Father and daughter chat at meetingThe Comfort Ability Program workshops introduce cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for pain management and are a routinely recommended intervention for kids and teens with ongoing pain. Workshops teach pain science education, offer social support, and provide hands-on skills training for kids and parents/caregivers. The workshops introduce an array of evidenced-based strategies for managing pain and pain-related fear, as well as structured plans for improving sleep, school, and exercise.

Who can attend the Comfort Ability Program workshops?

The Comfort Ability Program workshops are for kids and teens ages 10 to 17 who have ongoing pain, as well as their parents or caregivers. There are separate parts of the program for kids/teens and parent/caregivers. If a kid/teen has more than one parent/caregiver, it is recommended that both attend the workshop.

You do not have to be a current patient at Boston Children’s Hospital to attend a workshop at Boston Children’s. All families who are interested to attend a workshop at Boston Children’s will be screened by the Comfort Ability Program at the time of registration to ensure that the workshop is a good fit for them.

For most children and adolescents, this intervention is covered by insurance.

If you live outside of Massachusetts, you can check to see if there is a Comfort Ability Program workshop near you at our Find a Workshop page.

What happens at a Comfort Ability Program workshop?

Kids/teens and parents/caregivers are in separate groups for the workshop.

  • Adolescent group: The workshop for kids and teens (ages 10-17) provides a safe, comfortable space to connect with a small group who can really understand what it’s like to have ongoing pain. Together, they explore pain science, learn strategies based in psychology that can help to improve comfort, and experiment with a wide range of mind-body skills that are proven to help with pain recovery. Participants also explore how to manage pain-related stress like feeling different from their friends, school problems, lack of sleep, missing out on activities, and how to cope with feeling anxious or sad. Kids and teens get the chance to talk to a peer mentor who has learned how to manage pain and ask questions. At the end of the workshop, participants develop their own Comfort Ability plan to guide their coping and long-term recovery.
  • Parent/caregiver group: The parent/caregiver workshop focuses on parenting skills that help to boost a child’s sense of comfort and well-being. Parents also learn about pain science and about cognitive behavioral therapy. Parents and caregivers explore new ways to respond to the child’s pain, focus on how to improve day-to-day activities at home and school, and create a specific plan that will help to boost comfort for the child. Parents and caregivers also have time to connect with other parents in supportive ways and talk with a parent mentor who has successfully supported a child’s pain recovery.

When does the Comfort Ability Program workshop happen?

Comfort Ability Program workshop can be attended in person or virtually. Workshops are offered once or twice per month. Workshops include 12 hours of intervention in total (6 hours for kids/teens, 6 hours for parents/caregivers). In person workshops provide the full intervention in a single day. These workshops run on a weekend day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Boston Children’s Hospital campus in Waltham, Mass. Virtual workshops provide the intervention in six sessions over the course of two weeks (4 sessions for kids/teens, 2 sessions for parents/caregivers). Registration for all workshops is done on a first-come, first-serve basis.

How do I register to attend a Comfort Ability Program workshop?

To join an upcoming Comfort Ability Program workshop, please fill out our preregistration form below. After submitting this form, a member of our staff will contact you to complete registration. Please note that submitting this form does not automatically enroll you in the workshop. You must speak to a member of our staff to complete enrollment. For questions or more information, email us at TheComfortAbility@childrens.harvard.edu.

 















 

Other frequently asked questions

My child has pain and fatigue, and has a hard time making it through the school day. Will they be able to attend the full-day Comfort Ability Program workshop?

We understand that pain impacts people in different ways. At the Comfort Ability Program workshop, our goal is to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. We promote comfort by ensuring that there are frequent breaks to move around, stretch, or eat a snack, encouraging physical comfort (various sitting options, blankets), and assuring participants that no one has to share thoughts or feelings with the group if they prefer not to share. With these accommodations in place, most kids and teens relax, feel at ease, and make it through the workshop without difficulty. However, if the full day still seems too long, an alternative is to attend the virtual workshop that is completed in four 90-minute sessions over two weeks.

Can my other children attend the workshop?

This workshop is specifically developed for kids and teens between the ages of 10 and 17 who experience chronic pain. We are not able to accommodate siblings.

Can other relatives or friends attend a workshop?

A workshop registration includes space for one teen and up to two parents or caregivers. We strongly recommend having two parents or caregivers attend when possible. We encourage you to share what you learned in the workshop with the other supportive adults in your child’s life. Parents and other relatives or friends who are interested to understand this program may benefit from the resources on our website.

Can my child bring an emotional support pet during the in-person workshop?

At this time, we do not allow emotional support pets at our in-person workshop.

Do you offer the workshop in languages other than English?

At this point, we are unable to offer the workshop or the health chat in other languages. We are working to create resources in Spanish soon.

Can I attend the parent part of the workshop without my child?

There are separate parts of the workshop for kids and parents, and to get the best results it is important that parents or caregivers and their child attend this workshop together. If you believe you have a special circumstance that would prevent your child from coming, please discuss this with the Comfort Ability Program manager at the time of registration.

We do not live in Massachusetts. Can my child and I attend the workshop?

The workshop is running in both virtual and in-person format at many children’s hospitals across the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Visit our Find a Workshop page to view a list of sites offering the workshop.