Dr. Bonney Reed

Dr. Bonney Reed, a Pediatric Psychologist with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and GI Care for Kids, has been named as the Premier Pediatric Healthcare Professional of the Year for her work with IBD patients. 

She will be honored at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s 32nd Annual Torch Gala in Atlanta on Nov. 5.

“IBD can be an isolating chronic illness, and my patients are frequently reassured that they are not alone when I tell them that my entire job is to work with patients with IBD to help them be as happy and healthy as possible,” Dr. Reed said.

She said she has worked with many patients who are initially hesitant to speak about their diagnosis with family, friends or teachers, which leads to further social isolation and feelings of insecurity. “By working with a validating and nonjudgmental therapist,” Dr. Reed explained, “most patients are able to develop the language and confidence necessary to speak about IBD to the extent necessary and to stop carrying around shame.” 

While in college at the University of Georgia (UGA), Dr. Reed worked with her future doctoral mentor, Dr. Ronald L. Blount, who had been conducting research to develop psychological treatment interventions to support young people with IBD.

“We were particularly interested in the difficulties that many young people experienced with taking daily medications and ‘feeling different’ from their peers,” she said. “Once I started working with IBD patients, I was fascinated by the brain-gut connection and how emotional experiences could make coping with IBD more difficult and how symptoms of IBD could affect patients emotionally.”

Dr. Reed said she was inspired by the perseverance and resilience of some patients. “The more research I conducted with patients with IBD, the more questions that arose, and I chose to devote my career to the psychological experience of being diagnosed with a pediatric GI disorder.”

The Torch Gala is the largest fundraiser of the year for the Foundation’s Georgia Chapter; in 32 years, it has raised more than $9 million. This year, the gala will be held at the at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta and has a goal of raising $555,000 to fund critical research aimed at better diagnosing and ultimately curing IBD, which include Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis.

“While I am personally honored to be selected for this recognition, I believe it reflects the growing understanding that comprehensive IBD care includes addressing the emotional and mental consequences of the disease,” Dr. Reed said. “When my patients choose to seek mental health support or to participate in psychological research, I am impressed by their bravery to face difficult topics and to learn new ways to approach challenges.”

Dr. Reed suggests that anyone struggling with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis should consider joining one of the GA Chapter support groups, which can be found by clicking on Local Resources at crohnscolitisfoundation.org.

Kathy Dean is a freelance writer and editor based in metro Atlanta.