Making “owies” go away is a big part of a parent’s job, but it’s not always so easy when you can’t see what’s wrong and your child’s description of the pain isn’t always helpful. But a recent study found that for kids with persistent stomach pain, guided imagery can help them ease their discomfort.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, followed 34 kids with persistent abdominal pain with no identifiable underlying cause. They got four biweekly 10-minute sessions of guided imagery using audiotapes, and daily ten minute sessions. They also received standard medical care.
The researchers found that the children in the study group were three times more likely to report a reduction in their pain than kids who just received medical care.
Guidded imagery is somewhat similar to hypnosis. For exmaple, one of the audio recordings asked the children to imagine a special shiny object melting in their hand, and then to place that hand on their abdomen, spreading warmth and light from the hand into the belly and creating a protective barrier.
I’m a huge believer that things like this help, especially when the problem is mostly emotional or something that can’t be helped with regular medicine. I used something similar during infertility treatment, and while it didn’t help me get knocked up it did reduce the stress of the treatments and make me feel much more calm and positive. Also, this is free, fairly easy to self-administer once you know how, and unlikely to do anyone any harm.