Children's Health

Clinical hypnosis: Can it help my child’s symptoms?

Do you know a child or teen who is still bothered by chronic pain, despite numerous medical tests, doctor visits, and prescriptions? Or a child with a tic disorder, anxiety interfering with sleep or activities, bedwetting long after most kids have stopped, a picking or pulling habit? What do all of these conditions have in common? They are all in the group of disorders which have been successfully treated with clinical hypnosis. Hadn’t heard that? Read on…

Seeing kids for clinical hypnosis appointments is now one of the most satisfying parts of my medical practice. It is wonderful to be able to tell a child, ‘yes I know that the pain is real, and you would like for the symptoms to stop, and yes, I can teach you some skills to use every day so you can be more in control of that, learning to turn down the symptoms like you would a light-dimmer switch.’ I explain to kids and parents that all TRUE hypnosis is self-hypnosis, so I am simply coaching them and empowering them to do for themselves with brain power what even medications could not do as well. After a few appointments for hypnotherapy, many kids and their parents have been surprised and pleased at how well symptoms have been reduced. I also have to be careful to not hype expectations, because I really don’t know how much success a child will have until we begin to work together.

Dr. Robert Pendergrast, a pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, is the only pediatrician in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, or North Carolina who is an Approved Consultant with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis (asch.net). He is a leader in the field nationally, and teaches each year with the National Pediatric Hypnosis Training Institute (nphti.org). Since 2003, he has seen children and teens in his Mind-Body Clinic at CHOG, when consulted by other physicians to help children with difficult symptoms.

Appointments for Dr. Pendergrast’s Mind-Body clinic can be made at the West Wheeler Pediatric practice site, at 706-312-5437. Referring physicians or parents who have questions about this before the appointment are encouraged to talk with Dr. Pendergrast directly, by calling 706-721-2457.

About the author

Dr. Robert Pendergrast

Dr. Robert Pendergrast

Dr. Robert A. Pendergrast is the Director of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. He graduated from the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine in 1983 and completed his Fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1987.