What are Pediatric Psychological Services for Patients with Abdominal Pain?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on the important role our thoughts play in how we feel and how we act.
In CBT, the therapist and the child work to identify distorted thought patterns and change them to more realistic thoughts. For example, many children think that they need to perform “perfectly” in order to have performed well. Other children may begin to worry that a tornado will destroy their home as soon as storm clouds appear.
These are examples of distorted thoughts that can lead to very intense feelings. Because children with IBS or functional abdominal pain experience their intense feelings in their stomachs, changing these thoughts to more realistic ones can relieve pain and improve functioning over all.
Hypnosis is a state of mind. After people learn about hypnosis they realize they have been in hypnotic states many times.
Children are often in this state when they make-believe, daydream, listen intently to stories, or play video games. Adults often experience hypnotic states while engaged in repetitive tasks, while reading a great book, or while mowing the lawn. For example, have you ever been driving and arrived home and wondered, “How did I get here?” You were in a hypnotic state.
People in hypnosis often feel relaxed, peaceful, and detached from their worries. In hypnosis, we can better imagine sensations: sights, sounds, smells, touch. There is also increased control of the body. Breathing slows and deepens. Blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, and muscle tone can all be controlled. Hypnosis has also been shown to change chemicals in the gut that are often to blame for abdominal pain.
When a trained therapist uses hypnosis as part of treatment, it is called hypnotherapy: the use of guided, focused imagery, in a trance, to strengthen self-control over physical and emotional problems.
What are the risks of Pediatric Psychological Services for Patients with Abdominal Pain?
Unlike medications or other invasive medical procedures, treatment with a psychologist has no unwanted side effects.
False ideas about hypnosis come from television and movies. Most people believe that the patient is under the control of the hypnotist. This is not true. Stage hypnotists take advantage of willing volunteers to entertain. A trained practitioner can find helpful words to suggest ways to feel, understand or behave, but cannot control the person in hypnotherapy.
What can I expect with Pediatric Psychological Services for Patients with Abdominal Pain?
Cognitive skills and self-hypnosis grow easier with practice. Like learning to play a musical instrument, in time, the musician develops skill, creativity, and the ability to play new and more challenging songs.
Success in treatment requires that each child build their own imagery and sense of mastery. It is not your job to "make" your child "practice." As a matter of fact, if you insist that they "practice," they are more likely not to. It is their choice to use this skill. You might help by suggesting a convenient time, place, or situation in which they can do their assignments (after dinner, before homework, in a favorite chair, in the face of certain stresses).
It is our privilege to help our patients learn to use their own internal gifts and talents to improve their lives and master their pain. We look forward to answering any questions you may have. To schedule an appointment, please call us at 214-456-8000.