Child Life Specialist

Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families understand and cope with a child's illness or injury and related medical treatment. They provide emotional support for families and encourage optimum development of children facing challenges related to their health. With a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self-expression activities.

Because they understand that a child’s well-being depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators and the general public about the needs of children under stress.

Child life specialists help parents:

  • Understand their child's diagnosis
  • Handle their concerns and worries over their child’s health
  • Plan for hospital stays, treatments and surgeries.
  • Use developmentally appropriate language when talking with their child
  • Understand their child's behavior and reactions 

Child life specialists help young patients and their siblings:

  • Process the emotions they are experiencing
  • Regain the sense of control they have lost
  • Express feelings using therapeutic outlets like art, music, and story
  • Use toys, dolls and pictures to engage in therapeutic, child-directed play
  • Prepare siblings for visiting their brother or sister in the hospital

Child life specialists have earned a minimum bachelor’s or master’s degree, with an educational emphasis on human growth and development, education, psychology or a related field of study. They adhere to a code of ethics and standards established by the Child Life Council. All Certified Child Life Specialists must complete a supervised 480-hour clinical internship, pass a national examination and adhere to a minimum standard for continued professional development in order to maintain their certification.

For more information, please call 304.526.2183.

Source: The Child Life Council