What to Give a Very Anxious Twelve-Year-Old Facing Major Surgery

We just got this question from a concerned mother, whose 12-yr-old daughter is facing major surgery and is feeling a lot of anxiety and trepidation over it.

Dear Belleruth,

My 12 year old daughter is about to have major surgery. She is very anxious. Do u have a guided imagery that is appropriate?

Concerned Mom

Dear Mom,

Yes, we do have guided imagery for her, and the good news is that two different studies – one out of Columbia Presbyterian and one from Blue Shield's HMO in California – showed that the more anxious the person was, the more they benefitted from listening to pre-surgery guided imagery. Counter-intuitive but true. We've noticed this on our end too, just from the feedback we've gotten in the office and keep on getting.

More good news: 12-yr-olds and teenagers in general are the perfect candidates for altered state techniques like guided imagery and hypnosis – they take to it like ducks to water – probably because most teens are already soaking in a trance-inducing hormone soup in their bloodstreams (that's my personal hunch – no hard data to back this up that I know of).

And a twelve-year-old is old enough to use an adult audio program. So I'm recommending she listen to Successful Surgery, once or twice a day (or as much as she wants) before her surgery. This should help a lot with her anxiety. She can also bring it into the O.R. with her and have it played during surgery; and after surgery, the affirmations track is designed to help her through recovery.

We wish her the best. Let us all know how she does.

All best,