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Child Life Specialists

The child life specialist helps relieve anxiety and stress associated with illness for the child and the family through education, play, and imagery while in the emergency department. Child life services are endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The following quote is from the AAP policy on Child Life Services:

"The child life specialist focuses on the strengths and well-being of children while promoting their optimal development and minimizing the adverse effects of children's experiences in health care or other potentially stressful settings."
Pediatrics vol. 118, No. 4, Oct 2006

Child life specialists use play and developmentally appropriate communication to help your child cope with stressful events in the following ways:

  • Education for you and your child about what to expect for any necessary procedures (blood draws, stitches, X-rays), including teaching you ways to help your child cope with pain, stress, or anxiety.
  • Instruction for your child on coping techniques and providing opportunity for rehearsal.
  • Instruction of non-pharmacological pain management techniques, including visual guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, distraction, and diversion.
  • Therapeutic play activities that encourage expression of emotion and promote a sense of mastery.

For more information, please visit Child Life Program.