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Therapy for Difficulty with Medical Procedures

What ages does the Center for CBT treat for difficulty with medical care and procedures?

Kids and Teens

How do I know if my child needs treatment for difficulty with medical care and procedures?

  • It is common for kids and teens to experience general distress prior to or during medical appointments. However, when that distress is impairing doctor’s visits and/or the completion of procedures, it may be a sign that your child needs extra support in coping with these experiences.

  • Consider seeking therapy for your child if you see the following signs: ​​

    • Your child is unable to complete a medical check-up, procedure, or other form of medical care without extreme distress or restraint.

    • Medical care and procedures are taking longer than expected.

    • Your child is experiencing difficulty with blood draws, vaccines, having weight taken, throat or ear exams, and/or dental care.

What does treatment for difficulty with medical care and procedures look like? 

At the Center for CBT, we will begin with an initial assessment of your child to understand the biological, social, and psychological factors that might be impacting difficulties with medical care. Additionally, we will complete a task analysis to understand all the steps that are involved in your child’s medical care to create a plan to gradually go through these steps together to build confidence and reduce anxiety. Assessing any developmental or neurological difficulties with your child will also be very important to treatment. 

Once treatment begins, we will provide caregivers with strategies to help improve behavior and reduce child distress. Behavioral therapeutic techniques are the most effective for children with medical distress; as such, gradual exposure will be the primary tool used to support your child. We will break down the feared medical procedure into small steps that the child can be exposed to in order to improve their ability to tolerate it better. Moreover, cognitive techniques will be used to target the unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that are maintaining anxiety.  At times, we may request to collaborate with other treatment providers (i.e., nurses, doctors, behavioral health technicians) to provide additional support for your child (i.e. setting up a practice checkup at their pediatrician's office).

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