The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, a Stanford University Medical Center, has begun using guided imagery as part of their stress reduction and coping plan for families. The Child and Family Life Services team is made up of a staff of professional counselors who are trained in child development and who must also complete a minimum of 480 hours of clinical work as a child life specialist, including a rigorous a certification exam. They help both children and families understand medical procedures and deal with stress, anxiety, and sadness. Anne McCune, the hospital’s chief operating officer, explains, “Many of our families come in with a high level of anxiety.” The Child and Family Life Services team works with the entire family to help them support one another.
Susan Kinnebrew, director of the Child and Family Life Services department has implemented a variety of stress reduction techniques– everything from a “no-white-coats” play area, to pet therapy with service animals, to guided imagery for stress reduction. Kinnebrew knows how well these methods can work and even used guided imagery to help her own son through an injury. A few years ago, her son required stiches. “While the sutures were going in, I talked him through the plot of his favorite movie, Toy Story, distracting him so successfully that the medical team did not need other techniques to immobilize him,” she says.
Often siblings and other family members have more anxiety than the child going through the illness. The Child and Family Life Services staff support the entire family, not just patients. “From the feedback we get, we know they make a tremendous difference,” says McCune.
Learn more about the Child and Family Life Services team here.
Guided imagery is a powerful tool for stress reduction. Try one of these programs to reduce stress for yourself and your family today.