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My Journey to Hospital Land


MY JOURNEY TO HOSPITAL LAND is an innovative therapeutic program that empowers children and their families in their journey in hospital. An evidence-based therapeutic program, designed to reduce anxiety, minimise potentially traumatic aspects of hospitalisation and help children adjust optimally to the multicultural hospital experience, was identified as a way to improve the well-being of young patients. The program includes three components; a storybook for children, a guide for parents and an interactive website.

Research shows that up to 80% of pediatric patients and their families report traumatic stress following illness and hospitalisation (National Child Traumatic Stress Network website).  The hospitalisation experience taps into many basic childhood fears - of the unknown, strangers, pain and bodily harm, as well as the sense of powerlessness reported by child and adult patients alike.

The program utilises therapeutic reframing and empowers children by providing them with skills to cope with challenging experiences. It contains a healing metaphor that suggests a new way of looking at things and so strengthens the child’s sense of confidence and bolsters hope. 

Using the metaphor of 'Hospital land' the program reframes the hospitalisation experience as a journey to a different land. Indeed, going to hospital is in many ways like travelling to a foreign country; many things are different - the daily routine, the hospital procedures, the doctors and nurses who speak a strange medical language, even the food and the weather!  The metaphor of 'Hospital land' also prepares the child for meeting fellow patients and staff who come from very different backgrounds, people they may never meet in their ordinary lives.

The therapeutic story 'HARRY'S JOURNEY TO HOSPITAL LAND' follows the experiences of two young boys through their hospital stay - from admission through treatments to discharge. Various studies have demonstrated the cognitive and emotional effectiveness of therapeutic stories (Erickson 1982, Gardner 1971, Burns 2007, Pernicanno 2010).  Such stories create meaning and coherence out of stressful experiences and increase the child’s sense of control.  Story characters serve as role models for identification and story metaphors hypnotically go in the 'back door' to tap into right brain emotional and sensory processes.  Based on the work of Prof. D. Meichenbaum, a founder of cognitive-behaviour therapy, the project helps children build resilient, as opposed to traumatic, narratives.

In broadest terms, the program aims to help develop a culture of patient centered care within a kinder healthcare system.

'Going to hospital can be strange and a bit scary. Everything is so different! The doctors with their stethoscopes, the machines that beep, the other children in bandages, the noises and lights when you're trying to sleep, the food, the people you meet, even the strange medical language the doctors and nurses speak.

It's all so different it's rather like being in a different land - Hospital Land!'

Esther Takac Website - My Journey to Hospital Land - Banner.png


'Sometimes it’s only when we go away from the things we know that we learn

new things about the world, and ourselves.'


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