How are cognitive therapies used to treat pain in pediatric clinical practice?
Cognitive therapies are an important component of multimodal pain treatment plans when directed at a child’s beliefs, expectations, and coping abilities. Cognitive therapies include approaches from basic developmentally appropriate education to more formal psychotherapy. A basic cognitive intervention is providing children with age-appropriate information about pain and teaching them how to use simple strategies to cope with pain and pain-related fear and anxiety. When children receive accurate information about what they may feel, they can improve their understanding, increase their control, lessen their distress, and reduce their pain. Distraction and focused attention, as well as guided imagery, are strategies that health care professionals and parents can coach children to use routinely when children experience pain. Focused attention, also known as hypnosis, is a very active process that can lessen neuronal responses evoked by pain and tissue damage.