Child life specialists are professionals who assist children and families overcome challenging life experiences. We do this by focusing on the psychosocial aspects that the experience has on the child and the family and utilize many different tools (mainly play, but also breathing techniques, therapeutic discussions, guided imagery, and so forth) to help decrease the negative impacts and increasing the positive impacts. Child life specialists first began work in hospital settings, helping children and their families through the hospital experience. They have since spread out to other areas such as dentist offices, hospice care, specialized camps, schools, and court systems, to name a few.
Child life specialists in the medical field work towards achieving 6 goals:
1. Assess the coping responses and needs of families towards the healthcare experience
2. Minimize stress and anxiety for the child
3. Prepare children and their families for the healthcare experience
4. Provide essential life experiences
5. Create opportunities which strengthen self-esteem and independence
6. Communicate effectively with other members of the healthcare team.
You can read about the field of child life more in depth on the Child Life Council’s website.