I have been a Certified Child Life Specialist since 2003. That’s a long time! Over those years, the main question I was asked was ‘What is a Child Life Specialist?” Well, as a Child Life Specialist my purpose is to help infants, children, youth, and families cope with stressful life events by assisting them to increase their coping skills and resilience.
Many of my years in Child Life were focused in hospital settings. I have helped children and families cope with challenging diagnosis, assisted with procedural support, and walked alongside them as they navigated the healthcare environment. Now, I have delved into a new way to serve children and families. I have developed my own private practice where I can utilize my skill set and cater them to each individual and family in more of a community based setting outside of the hospital workplace.
My interventions are developmentally appropriate, evidence-based, and include but are not limited to therapeutic play, education, expressive activities, preparation, psycho-social support and coping enhancement. My goals are to provide individualized services that increase resilience, coping abilities, and self-awareness while decreasing fear, anxiety/stress, and pain. I value diversity of individual and family strengths and needs as well as recognize the importance of support systems and community connections. My foundations in theories of child development, play, stress/coping, as well as family systems are a basis for my professional practice. I am committed to building therapeutic relationships built on trust, respect, and professionalism that contribute to increasing confidence and problem-solving skills.
I offer Virtual Child Life Services to children and families from the comfort of their homes.
The children and families I assisted were in the emergency department, Neonatal ICU, Pediatric ICU, general pediatrics, oncology, radiology, surgery, and burn units. I have been blessed to also serve children and families on medical missions around the world with Operation Smile. Hundreds of children receive life changing surgeries during these missions and my volunteer role is to explain what will happen in a way they can understand and help reduce their fear and anxiety. I also help them with body image perspectives as their appearance drastically changes with cleft lip/palate and other repairs.
So, what do you do again, you ask? LOL. Times I have valued most as a Child Life Specialist include:
***Child Life Services are not counseling. Although I can recommend good counselors as needed. Child Life services utilize play and psychosocial support to build a child’s coping toolkit as they face challenging life events.