What is The Comfort Ability® Program?

The Comfort Ability® Program helps kids and parents and caregivers learn how to better manage recurring functional symptoms such as chronic pain (nerve, muscle or joint pain, headaches, abdominal pain, etc.), nausea, dizziness, fatigue and muscle weakness. The program teaches how the nervous system works in the body and why skills rooted in psychology can help. It also gives kids and parents and caregivers 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/caregivers. The workshops take place at many sites throughout the United States, Canada, and Australia. 

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 and functional symptoms. Together, they learn about neuroscience, learn about psychology tools to control the symptoms, and use mind-body skills to boost comfort. Kids also explore how to manage symptom-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. 

Parent/Caregiver group:

The parent and caregiver workshop focuses on parenting skills that help to boost a child’s sense of comfort and well-being. Parents/caregivers learn about neuroscience and about cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), as well. Parents and caregivers explore new ways to respond to their child’s symptoms, 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 and caregivers 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 recurring symptoms such as chronic pain, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, muscle weakness, 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/caregivers attend. 

    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/ccaregivers can be comfortable throughout the sessions. Whether the workshop is done virtually or in-person, there are many scheduled breaks for adolescents and parents/caregivers. 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/caregivers generally have two sessions spread over 1-2 weeks. Each parent/caregiver 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/caregivers 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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