When an allergic patient or parent of a child managing an allergy reaches out for therapy, it's important for me to learn how the allergy impacts their lives. Sure, they are reaching out because they feel overwhelmed or anxious about their allergy, but that's just the overall picture. And in order to truly help my patients, I need to get a more detailed picture.
I do this by asking patients to complete the appropriate Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Form as part of their intake paperwork. The responses on this form gives me a solid glimpse into their quality of life, which domains are most impacted, and psychosocial themes that may need adjusting. It's a tool that has helped me more effectively meet my patients' needs and ensure they're feeling understood for years now.
After sharing these forms during consultation sessions with allergy practices and fellow therapists, it became clear that these tools may be beneficial to others. Therefore, I've decided to offer them to allergy and therapy practitioners, too.
Read on to learn more about how they're beneficial to both patients and providers!
The Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Forms are premade AND customizable! That means that you don't have to spend time creating them, and can personalize them with your practice's logo and information.
All four forms are available for both, but questions vary slightly between both versions so that they are more tailored to the scope of the practices.
What Information Does These Forms Gather:
These patient narrative forms allow for detailed responses on themes such as:
Benefits of Using These Forms in Therapy Practices:
Benefits of Using These Forms in Allergy Practices:
Suggestions/Tips For Use:
Narrative Versus Validated Patient Forms?
It's like comparing apples and oranges - both are fruit, but different kinds. Both narrative and validated forms gather valuable patient information, but in different manners.
Validated assessments, such as the Survey of Food Allergy Anxiety (SOFAA), typically assess functioning and impacts that helps drive diagnosis and treatment decisions.
Patient narrative forms, such as these Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Forms, primarily gather information to aid in understanding the whole patient. While they may also be used to help determine treatment decisions, their primary purpose is gathering information that helps to facilitate conversations and problem-solve with patients.
[The images above show the Parent/Caregiver - Therapy Practice version]
Visit the "Worksheets" page to check out and learn more about these Food Allergy Psychosocial Information Forms, and don't hesitate to reach out with questions!
Special introductory pricing is available through March 31, 2022, and there will always be a discount for purchasing the package, which includes all 4 forms.
Direct URL to the Worksheets page: www.FoodAllergyAnxiety.com
You've likely heard the term "oral food challenge" mentioned by your allergist or in online food allergy support groups. But if you haven't, here's a quick primer from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology on oral food challenges:
What is an oral food challenge?
An oral food challenge (OFC), or feeding test, is a medical procedure in which a food is eaten slowly, in gradually increasing amounts, under medical supervision, to accurately diagnose or rule out a true food allergy.
What are the reasons to perform an OFC?
OFCs are usually done when a careful medical history and allergy tests, such as skin and blood tests, are inconclusive. The OFC is a more definitive test because it will show whether the food ingested produces no symptoms or triggers a reaction.
Oral Food Challenge (OFC) Anxiety and Worry:
Given that during oral food challenges you are eating a food that you may potentially be allergic to or have previously been allergic to, it's no surprise that you may feel anxious and worried in anticipation of that appointment - many do. Our mind wants to keep us safe, so an oral food challenge can feel like a potential threat to our mind when we think about it. Therefore, it's normal and appropriate to experience anxiety about oral food challenges. However, it's important to remember that you don't need to interpret that anxiety to mean that the oral food challenge will result in the worst case scenario.
What Helps OFC Anxiety and Worry?
When you experience increased anticipatory anxiety - that is, anxiety about a future event, it can be helpful to prepare for the event in order to to increase readiness and decrease fear.
Here is a brief list of ways to prepare ahead of time for your or your child's oral food challenge:
Additional Resources and Tips to Help Manage OFC Anxiety
Be sure to listen to Episode 14 of Exploring Food Allergy Families called, "Tips for Managing Oral Food Challenge Anxiety & Worry". In this episode, fellow allergy-informed therapist Fawn McNeil-Haber, PhD and I discuss helpful strategies for navigating oral food challenges. We offer preparation tips and guidance on navigating anxiety and mindsets prior to and during the food challenge. Here are specific topics we explore in this episode:
You can listen via your favorite podcast app, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and iHeartRadio. Don't forget to subscribe so you don't miss future episodes!
ORAL FOOD CHALLENGE PREPARATION WORKSHEETS:
Check out these Oral Food Challenge worksheets which help prepare before the appointment, offer helpful reminders for the day of, and prompts for processing after the food challenge. (There are separate worksheets for kids and teens/adults). Also check out this post on a post-anaphylaxis tool known as T.R.A.C.E, which is a compass guiding you back to confidence after allergic reactions.
You can find these worksheets on the Therapeutic Worksheets page here on the Food Allergy Counselor website.
Hopefully reading this and checking out the podcast, worksheets and other resources offers you some reassurance that oral food challenge-related anxiety is normal and manageable. Don't hesitate to reach out and let me know if these tips have helped you or your patients, or to share tips of your own! And if you're looking for an allergy-informed therapist in your state (many of whom provide telehealth to residents of their state), visit the Food Allergy Counselor Directory.
You can connect with me on Twitter (@TherapistTamara and @FACounselor), Instagram (@TherapistTamara & @FoodAllergyCounselor) and Facebook (@FoodAllergyCounselor and @TamaraHubbardLCPC).
Thanks for reading!
One of the most common questions I see being asked within the food allergy community is:
"How do I help my son or daughter with their food allergy anxiety or worry?"
The answer to that question isn't simplistic, as there are likely many factors contributing to the anxiety or worry. But at the core of the answer is the advice to help their child better understand the worry in order to develop strategies to help effectively manage it.
What exactly is worry?
The terms "anxiety", "worry", and "fear" are often used interchangeably. So do they mean the same thing? No, but they are definitely related.
Whereas anxiety typically stems from the uncertainty, unpredictability and unknown about future situations, worry is the thinking part of anxiety. It's what often leads our minds to dwelling on worst case scenarios, the "what ifs", or leads us into a thinking trap known as "catastrophizing".
Whether our worry is triggered by anxiety about the future or fear due to a threat in the here-and-now, it can lead us down the rabbit hole of thoughts. This may then trigger uncomfortable emotions and physical sensations, which often convinces us even more that our worried thoughts must be valid!
What helps to manage worrY?
There are a variety of therapeutic approaches to help people learn to manage or navigate life with their anxiety or worry. Whether through basic psychoeducation, or strategies based on approaches stemming from evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, or exposure therapy, the goals are typically to help people change negative thought patterns, learn relaxation or grounding skills, and change behaviors that lead to the distressing impacts or outcomes.
The Managing Food Allergy Worries Worksheet
The following 3-page therapeutic worksheet was created to help older kids, teens, and even adults begin to address their food allergy-related worries. The goal of the worksheet is to help you identify practical strategies that effectively help you break free from those worry traps. It encourages getting to know more about the thoughts that fuel the worry. It also guides you to notice how the worry makes you feel physically since anxiety and worry often bring on physical sensations that may even trick you into thinking you're having an allergic reaction.
[Disclaimer: This therapeutic activity is meant to help understand and manage worries, but is not meant to take the place of counseling. Please reach out to a licensed clinical mental healthcare provider if you feel that your anxiety or worry is impacting your life in a way that feels unmanageable on your own. You can locate an allergy-informed therapist in your state via the Food Allergy Counselor Directory.]
RELATED Helpful Resources:
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