The Comfort Ability Workshop

The Comfort Ability Workshop

General info

Doernbecher is proud to present the Comfort Ability Workshop which is now being held at OHSU every 6-8 weeks. Originally designed at Boston Children’s Hospital, the Comfort Ability Workshop is being conducted at several sites across the country, and at several hospitals in Canada!

The Comfort Ability Workshop is a fun and interactive one-day program to help children and their parents or caregivers learn how to better manage chronic pain. The program is run by staff psychologists and psychology trainees from Doernbecher Children's Hospital's Pediatric Pain Management Clinic and introduces cognitive behavioral and biobehavioral pain management strategies. The workshop emphasizes the mind-body connection and offers non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical strategies for improved pain management.

The program is put on by the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic and the Institute on Development and Disability.


Hear from previous participants:

"The Comfort Ability workshop was incredible for our whole family. It has been a game changer on many levels. We're so grateful to have been able to attend, and I hope every family will have this opportunity moving forward." - Parent

"It was nice to be with a group of people my age who are all dealing with pain like me." - Child

"Thank you so much for putting this program together! I really appreciate that it was there for my patient when she needed it. I do not know how else we would have helped them had this program not been available." - Family Medicine Physician


How does the Comfort Ability Workshop work?

The Comfort Ability Workshop provides families with a foundation for understanding chronic pain and how psychological care can improve pain management. It also provides adolescents and their families with the skills necessary to improve emotional and physical functioning.

This workshop was specifically designed for youth with chronic pain and their families at Boston Children's Hospital and uses a variety of empirically-supported practices to help kids and families experience more control over their pain and improve function.  

What happens at the Comfort Ability Workshop?

While adolescents and their parents or caregivers start off the day together, most of the day is spent in separate groups.

In the youth group, adolescents learn about:
  • Biobehavioral pain management strategies, such as guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback. They will practice these skills in a group setting and learn how to incorporate these new pain management tools at home and at school.
  • Youth will learn how pain functions in the body, receive an introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy strategies and participate in a group art project.
  • Youth will have an opportunity to share with peers about their pain experiences and learn from others.
In the parent group, parents and caregivers learn about:
  • Adaptive management of chronic pain.
  • New strategies for supporting their child at home and at school.
  • The biobehavioral and cognitive behavioral skills their children are being taught.
  • Parents will also have the opportunity to share with other parents and caregivers about their family's experience and learn from others.

Who can attend?

Youth ages 10-17, and their parents and caregivers are eligible to sign up for the Comfort Ability Workshop. You do not have to be a Doernbecher patient to participate.

This workshop is appropriate for youth with chronic pain from any source, including:

  • Chronic headaches or migraines
  • Abdominal pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Persistent post-surgical pain
  • Pain due to chronic medical conditions

How much does the workshop cost?

The cost for the program is $100, which includes youth participation and up to two parents/caregivers. Financial assistance is available upon request.

How do I enroll?

To register your family for the workshop, please call 503 494-3245, or email Cat Dennis at . Please include your child's name, age, primary pain condition or complaint, your name, and your phone number. You may also submit a contact form on this webpage.

What if my child is younger than 10?

Children younger than 10 are considered on a case-by-case basis. The workshop was developed specifically for 10-17 year olds and their parents.

The Comfort Ability Workshop staff recommend that parents of younger children follow these steps:

  1. Read "When Your Child Hurts," written by Dr. Rachael Coakley.
    Dr. Coakley originally developed the Comfort Ability Workshop at Boston Children's Hospital. Her book reviews many of the same things that are covered in the workshop.
  2. Talk to your child's Primary Care Physician or Specialty Care Physician about receiving a referral to the Pediatric Pain Management Clinic at Doernbecher Children's Hospital (503 418-5188)
    Drs. Anna Wilson and Amy Holley who both lead the workshop, are available to provide assessment and treatment through this clinic.

Our Team

Dr. Anna WilsonAnna Wilson, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist Instructor


Dr. Amy HolleyAmy Holley, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist Instructor


Catlin DennisCatlin Dennis, B.A.
Comfort Ability Coordinator

The Comfort Ability Study

The Comfort Ability Study is a simple, evaluative study that measures functioning and pain prior to the workshop via a survey completed by parents and children, and then three months after attending the workshop. Each participant of the workshop will be given the opportunity to participate, should they choose to do so.

The central aim of the study is to determine if the Comfort Ability Workshop, developed in Boston, at Boston Children's Hospital will be effective in teaching kids with chronic pain and their parents/caregivers in the Pacific Northwest behaviorally-based skills and psychological strategies to better manage chronic pain.

Participants who complete surveys at both time points will be entered into a drawing to win one of 5 $20 gift cards to a local store. Participants will also be given an opportunity to provide feedback about the program and its content by responding to open-ended questions as part of the online survey. We anticipate that this data will help us better tailor the program to address the needs of our patient population.

For more information, please contact Catlin Dennis at 503 494-3245, or Anna Wilson at

For more about Comfort Ability

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