About Us

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, Canada, and Australia.

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

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Meet Our Team

About Rachael Coakley

Rachael Coakley, Ph.D.

Program Director

Dr. Rachael Coakley is the Director of Clinical Innovation and Outreach in Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care and Pain Medicine at 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 in 2011 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

Simona Bujoreanu, Ph.D.

Associate Director

Dr. Bujoreanu is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and joined the CAP team from the Psychiatry Consultation Service at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she has been a senior staff psychologist since 2008. She obtained her PhD from the University of Rhode Island and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at DFCI.  She has extensive experience working with youth with both medical and psychiatric conditions and their families and has been an integral part of multidisciplinary teams throughout the hospital.  Simona has also played a key role in teaching and supervising pre- and post-doctoral psychology trainees, psychiatry fellows, and medical students and has been recognized with several awards for her work in this domain.  Her research has focused on depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with IBD, somatoform presentations, eating disorders, and health care utilization.  She has been part of several BCH committees on training and innovation leading to the development of hospital wide clinical practice guidelines.

Amy Hale, Ph.D.

Clinical Lead

Dr. Hale joined the CAP team from the Boston Children's Department of Gastroenterology where she has been an attending psychologist since 2016. Within the GI department, she has served on the Functional Abdominal Pain Team and the Growth and Nutrition Program.  She obtained her PhD from University of Connecticut and completed her fellowship at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and at the University of Connecticut Health Center.  She has extensive experience working with children and adolescents with pain and functional gastrointestinal disorders, as well as training community-based clinicians on evidence-based treatments for GI conditions.  Her research has focused on primarily in anxiety and somatic symptoms in GI populations and multidisciplinary treatment models and development of assessment tools.

Janae Biggs, BS
Program Manager

Janae has a background of Program Management specifically in the field of Health, Wellness, and Exercise.  Before joining the CAP team, Janae has worked with various nonprofit organizations for over five years. Most recently, she served as Director of Health and Wellness at the YMCA where she managed and expanded programming pertaining to chronic disease, childhood obesity, and general weight loss.  She earned her bachelor’s in Exercise Health Science at UMass Boston.

Maureen Burns, BS, BA 

Research Coordinator 

Maureen joined the team in 2018, with four years of experience in education and youth program management. Maureen earned her bachelors’ in Psychology and Studio Art at Loyola University Chicago and recently completed a graduate certificate in Social Justice from the Harvard Extension School. 

Peer and Parent Advisory Boards:

The Comfort Ability program is growing all the time! We are working hard to improve the resources we have and create new opportunities to support families who have a child with chronic pain. To help guide our efforts, we rely on our active advisory boards. Click below to meet the amazing members of our peer and parent advisory boards!

Peer Advisory Bios

Parent Advisory Bios

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