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Child Life

Child Life specialist with patient

Children and teens of all ages can feel stressed or worried while visiting the hospital or clinic. The unfamiliar environment, loss of control, fear of pain and lack of routine are among the most common anxieties young patients feel during a health care encounter. Our Child Life specialists help patients and family members express and work through their concerns, as well as help make their stay at the medical center feel more normal.

When visiting Cook Children's, you can expect a Child Life specialist to offer assistance with coping, developmentally appropriate explanations of diagnoses and treatments, emotional support and opportunities for distraction and play. Child life specialists work with the medical team to ensure each child's needs are addressed in the most nurturing atmosphere possible.

The Child Life department at Cook Children's includes not only Child Life specialists, but also activity coordinators that help facilitate meaningful play opportunities for patients and siblings visiting the hospital.

Child Life specialists are educated in child and human development; they have at least a bachelor's degree, and in many cases, a master's. They complete a semester of practicum, a 480-hour highly selective clinical internship, and must demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge to pass a certification exam. Once certified, they're required to maintain certification by participating in professional development and continuing education. The knowledge gained on the way to becoming a certified Child Life specialist is used to build therapeutic relationships that help patients and their families balance daily life and the health care experience.

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