What is Child Life?
Being diagnosed with a new illness and coming to the hospital can be stressful events for a family. The goal of the Child Life Program is to minimize that stress and anxiety as much as possible. Child Life Specialists work closely with children and teens to provide non-threatening age-appropriate explanations and preparations. This individualized education helps them to not only understand what is happening but also to build trust and confidence so that they know what to expect during this time of many changes. Child Life Specialists also create many opportunities for play and expressive activities that promote patients’ and siblings’ optimal development, an outlet for feelings, peer interaction, a sense of mastery, or developed coping. These therapeutic opportunities are offered daily on an individual basis (bedside) and as a group (in one of our play areas or teen rooms).
There are 15 full time child life specialists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in all clinical areas and available to all families. Child life specialists are nationally certified and have earned a Bachelor's or Master's degree, with an educational background that includes human growth and development, education, psychology, or counseling. As part of the healthcare team, child life specialists focus on the psychosocial needs of children facing challenging experiences, particularly related to healthcare and hospitalization.
For more information about Child Life Services at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, please call (901) 595-3020.