Child Life Specialists

What is a Child Life Specialist?

A child life specialist is a person specifically trained to help reduce the stress and anxiety that often accompanies a child in the hospital.

Child Life Specialists use play to help patients:

  • Develop ways to cope with fear, anxiety, and separation
  • Understand and cope with a new diagnosis or illness
  • Adjust to the hospital experience
  • Facilitate a sense of mastery and control
  • Provide an outlet for self-expression
  • Promote normal growth and development
  • Provide non-threatening, age-appropriate explanations and preparations
  • Provide relaxation and guided imagery to help reduce pain and to promote relaxation
  • Provide support for brothers and sisters
  • Offer legacy building and memory making to cope with death/dying and grief

Child Life Specialists are here to help support patients and their families by advocating for their needs and promoting family centered care.

As a member of the treatment team, a child life specialist is trained to provide therapeutic play, including medical play, and developmentally appropriate activities utilizing their knowledge of child development theories, play, stress relief, coping techniques, and family systems. This can happen at the bedside, in the playroom, teen room, or in clinic areas.

A child life specialist is trained at the bachelor or master’s level in child life, child development, psychology, therapeutic recreation or another similar field. They have also completed a 480 hour internship and passed a national certification exam.

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