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About The Comfort Ability

What is The Comfort Ability?

The Comfort Ability is a fun and interactive one-day program to help adolescents and their parents or caregivers learn how to better manage chronic pain. The program teaches how pain functions in the body and introduces cognitive behavioral and biobehavioral pain management strategies. The Comfort Ability emphasizes the mind-body connection and offers non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical strategies for improved pain management.

How does The Comfort Ability work?

The Comfort Ability provides families with a foundation for understanding the various ways psychological care can improve pain management. It also provides adolescents and their families skills necessary for improved emotional and physical functioning.  

What happens at The Comfort Ability?

While adolescents and their parents or caregivers start the day together, most of the day is spent in separate groups. Adolescents are introduced to biobehavioral pain management strategies, such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback. They have an opportunity to practice these skills in a group setting. They also learn about how pain functions in the body, receive an introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy strategies and participate in a group art project. Additionally, youth will have an opportunity to share with peers about their pain experiences and learn from others.  Parents and caregivers learn parent strategies that help in the management of chronic pain, new approaches for supporting their child’s function at home and school, and learn about the biobehavioral and cognitive behavioral skills their children are being taught so they can reinforce progress at home.

Who can attend the Comfort Ability?

Youth ages 10-17 are eligible sign up for the Comfort Ability. The Comfort Ability is currently being offered in the United States and Canada.

Click here to find out where you can access this program.

About Rachael Coakley


About Rachael Coakley

Rachael Coakley, Ph.D., is associate director of psychological services in the Pain Treatment Service, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital. She is also an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Coakley specializes in teaching children, adolescents and parents effective strategies to cope with pediatric chronic pain and pain-related stress using relaxation, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioral skills. She has published numerous articles and chapters on pediatric pain management and related topics and has presented at national and international conferences.

Dr. Coakley founded The Comfort Ability program seven years ago and directs the implementation at Boston Children’s Hospital. For her work with The Comfort Ability program she was granted the 2016 David Weiner Award for Innovation in Child Health. The Comfort Ability program is made possible by the Sara Page Mayo Endowment for Pediatric Pain Research & Education and the Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine at Boston Childrens Hospital.

Dr. Coakley’s book, “When Your Child Hurts: Effective Strategies to Increase Comfort, Reduce Stress and Break the Cycle of Chronic Pain” (Yale University Press), won a 2016 National Parenting Products Award (NAPPA).

When Your Child Hurts