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Children navigating the healthcare environment can be faced with many different challenges, ranging from building comfort in an unfamiliar setting to coping through invasive and sometimes painful procedures. It is common for children to feel as if they have very little control and few choices in what goes on around them. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan child life department works as an integral part of the care team to return some of that control to patients and therefore assisting in reducing the stress and anxiety often associated with hospitalization.

What is a Child Life Specialist?

Certified Child Life Specialists® provide evidence-based, developmentally appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation and education that reduce fear, anxiety, and pain for infants, children, and youth. Certified Child Life Specialists are educated and trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury. Their role is to help improve patient and family care, satisfaction and overall experience.

Services Provided

  • Medical Play allows children to express feelings and concerns when verbal methods are unsuccessful. It also provides an opportunity to detect/correct misinformation that patients may have.
  • Procedural Support promotes mastery of experience as children are provided both distraction and developmentally-appropriate preparation to enable successful coping.
  • Procedural Distraction involves using toys or developmentally-appropriate activities that stimulate the patient so they are not solely focused on the procedure or potential pain. Read more about developmentally appropriate distraction techniques.
  • Environmental Modification can help reduce stress for the patient and guard against overstimulation. One example of environmental modification would be keeping medical equipment not relevant to the procedure out of the child’s line of sight.
  • Modeling and Behavioral Rehearsal teaches coping strategies for stressful events experienced by children prior to or during procedures.
  • Comfort Positioning increases children’s perception of control and incorporates family support during procedures.

Creative Arts Therapies

  • Art Therapy
  • Music Therapy
  • Yoga Therapy

Contact Us

Children's Hospital of Michigan
Child Life Services Department
3901 Beaubien
Detroit, MI 48201
Phone: (313) 745-0064
Fax: (313) 993-7106

Child Life Services

Child Life Stories