What is The Comfort Ability Program?

The Comfort Ability Program helps kids, teens and parents or caregivers learn how to better manage chronic pain problems such as headache, abdominal pain, nerve pain, joint pain, disease related pain, post-surgical pain, or any other kind of ongoing pain. The program teaches how pain works in the body and why skills rooted in psychology can help. It also gives kids and parents the chance to learn and practice many proven coping skills based in cognitive behavioral therapy.

The Comfort Ability Program offers workshops, health chats, newsletters, and other resources for teens and parents. The workshops take place at many sites throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. 

Is the Comfort Ability taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic?

The Comfort Ability workshop has been adapted to a virtual format and can be delivered by telehealth. You can find a list of sites offering the virtual Comfort Ability workshop here

What happens at The Comfort Ability workshop?

Kids and parents are in separate groups for the workshop.

Kid/Teen group:

The workshop for kids and teens provides a safe and comfortable space to connect with others who can really understand what it’s like to have ongoing pain. Together, they learn about pain science, how psychology can help recovery, and how to use mind-body skills to boost comfort. Kids also explore how to manage pain-related stress like isolation from friends, school problems, lack of sleep, missing out on activities, and how to cope with feeling anxious or sad. At the end of the workshop, kids develop their own Comfort Ability plan to guide their coping and long-term recovery. 

Parents/Caregivers group: 

The parent and caregiver workshop focuses on parenting skills that help to boost a child’s  comfort and well-being. Parents learn about pain science and about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Parents also explore new ways to respond to their 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 their child. Parents also have time to connect with other parents in supportive ways. 

Who can attend The Comfort Ability workshop?

Workshops are designed for kids and teens ages 10-17 with chronic pain and their parents or caregivers. At least one parent or caregiver is required to attend, but in two parent families it is recommended that both parents attend. 

This program may be appropriate for kids or teens with pain such as: 

  • Chronic headache or migraine
  • Abdominal pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Persistent post-surgical pain
  • Pain due to chronic medical conditions
  • Fibromyalgia/Pain Amplification Syndrome
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

How many people attend the workshops?

Group size may vary a little bit depending on the site running the program.  Most often, the virtual workshop includes between 5-10 families and the in-person workshop includes between 7-15 families. 

How long is the workshop?

The workshops are designed in a relaxed format so that adolescents and parents can be comfortable throughout the sessions. Whether the workshop is done virtually or in-person, there are many scheduled breaks for adolescents and parents. There may be some differences between sites in terms of workshop length. 

The virtual workshop generally involves four sessions for adolescents spread over 2-3 weeks. Each adolescent session is about 90-120 minutes long. Parents generally have two sessions spread over 1-2 weeks. Each parent session is about 160-180 minutes.

The in-person workshop is generally six hours long. Adolescents and parents do the workshop on the same day, but they are in separate programs throughout the day. 

How will I remember everything I’ve learned?

All workshops include a take-home workbook for parents and a take-home workbook for kids/teens. These workbooks include all the information covered in the workshops. Additionally, each Comfort Ability Program site can share local resources.

If you have questions after participating in the workshop, you can  join one of our online health chats or submit a question to the “Ask Us” experts page. 

How much does the program cost? Is it covered by insurance? 

The cost of the workshop and whether or not it is covered by health insurance may vary depending on the site running the program and your health insurance provider. Please contact a specific site using the Find a Workshop feature to learn more about cost or insurance coverage.  

How do I sign up for a workshop?

To sign up for a Comfort Ability workshop go to the Find a Workshop page and contact directly the Comfort Ability Program site near you.

How is my (child's) privacy protected when we participate in the Comfort Ability Program's online chats?

Please read over our complete "Privacy Policy."

Other questions?

For general questions about the program, please feel free to email: TheComfortAbility@childrens.harvard.edu

For specific questions about program dates, availability, or cost, please contact the site closest to you: "Find a Workshop"

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