1st Edition

Treating Somatic Symptoms in Children and Adolescents

  • This format cannot be shipped to your selected country.
ISBN 9781462529520
Published April 18, 2017 by Guilford Press
273 Pages

USD $35.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Persistent physical symptoms that may not be associated with a known medical disease can be perplexing and distressing for children and families. This book gives mental health professionals a complete understanding of somatic symptoms in 6- to 18-year-olds and presents an innovative treatment approach grounded in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Numerous case examples and sample dialogues illustrate how to collaborate with health care and school professionals and conduct effective assessment, psychoeducation, and intervention, within a biopsychosocial framework. User-friendly features include 36 reproducible handouts, worksheets, and templates. Purchasers get access to a companion website where they can download and print the reproducible materials in a convenient 8 1/2" x 11" size.

Table of Contents

I. Understanding Somatic Symptoms
1. Treating Children with Somatic Symptoms
2. Describing Somatic Symptoms
3. The Biopsychosocial Model of Somatic Symptoms
II. Assessment and Education
4. Assessment
5. Education
III. Intervention
6. Level One: Physical Factors
7. Level Two: Emotional and Behavioral Factors
8. Level Three: Cognitive Strategies
IV. Collaboration
9. Parents and Community
10. School
11. Health Care Colleagues
12. Summary, Challenges, and Successes
Appendix. Reproducible Materials

View More



Sara E. Williams, PhD, is a pediatric psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she is Clinical Director of the Functional Independence Restoration (FIRST) program for inpatient pediatric chronic pain rehabilitation. She is also Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Dr. Williams specializes in assessing, treating, and researching pediatric chronic pain conditions.

Nicole E. Zahka, PhD, is a pediatric psychologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her practice includes children and adolescents with chronic medical conditions and anxiety disorders, with a specialty in assessment and treatment of conversion and functional movement disorders, as well as syncope and gastrointestinal disorders.


"This brilliantly written book is a 'must read' for mental health professionals who want to better serve youth experiencing complex and debilitating physical symptoms. The expert authors do a beautiful job of describing how somatic symptoms can be treated using a biopsychosocial approach. Evidence based and highly practical, this book is a gift to the many suffering children and teens in need of skilled adults to assist them in their recovery."--Brenda Bursch, PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences and Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles

"The authors walk the mental health clinician step by step through the process of assessing and treating somatic symptoms in a way that fosters a collaborative patient- and family-centered approach to care. Williams and Zahka compassionately describe the challenging work of addressing symptoms that dwell in both the body and the mind. With realistic dialogue, concrete examples, and pitch-perfect metaphors, the book gives clinicians a language to help distressed children and families manage their symptoms and feel better understood by their providers. An excellent, much-needed resource."--Deirdre Logan, PhD, Director, Psychological Services for Pain Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital; Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

"Williams and Zahka have written a remarkable and captivating guide that incorporates evidence-based medicine as well as valuable information from their unique vantage point as experienced clinical psychologists. This book could not be more timely, and has had a significant impact on how I approach and manage pediatric patients and families struggling with somatic symptoms."--Hope L. O’Brien, MD, FAHS, Co-Director, Young Adult Headache Clinic; Program Director, Headache Medicine Education, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

"With the proper training, psychologists can play a key role in the treatment of somatic symptoms in children. This is the first book that empowers mental health providers with the knowledge needed to treat chronic pain and related problems. It provides an understanding of the pathophysiology and psychology of chronic pain behaviors and a framework for assessment and treatment, plus practical strategies for building a strong provider–patient relationship. Information is presented in a concise, accessible manner, with clear examples of strategies and interventions."--Adrian Miranda, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and Medical College of Wisconsin
-The authors are experienced pediatric psychologists who have drawn from years of experience treating this population to create an excellent roadmap for the treatment of somatic symptoms….The book contains many specific templates for clinical conversations, including a template for medical professionals to use with patients and families as they make referrals for psychotherapy….This book will be useful, as suggested by the authors, for newer clinicians and for more experienced therapists. Sections of the book would be a valuable reference for pediatricians and other medical professionals who evaluate and treat children with somatic symptoms.--PsycCRITIQUES, 6/12/2017