We are understanding

Experience shows that involving the entire family ensures the best possible outcomes.

Child life

At Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, we understand that a hospital stay can be a stressful experience for a child. That's why we are specially trained to help children cope with the adjustments of being in a hospital, their injury and their illness. As child life specialists, our work is vital to a child's emotional health because medical settings can be a new, unfamiliar world for children and teens, with the potential for them to develop fears and misconceptions. We work closely with parents and families to provide support and understanding of what each child is going through. Experience shows that involving the entire family ensures the best possible outcomes. These experiences help both children and families gain a greater understanding of medical procedures, which helps reduce stress and fear of the unknown. Through play, we help facilitate the emotional and social growth of a child during the crisis of illness.

We help children cope with hospitalization in every area of the hospital. Every day, we offer opportunities for children to play, to work through their emotions, to master challenging and traumatic life events, to express emotions and to reduce anxiety produced by the stress of hospitalization.

As members of every patient's healthcare team, we are available to all children in the hospital and in our clinics to provide:

  • Medical play, to help children learn about various tests, procedures and surgeries and corrects any misconceptions children may have
  • Conduct pre-surgery tours and preparation for children scheduled for surgery
  • Teach relaxation and mental imagery techniques to help children control pain, handle anxiety, or cope with medical procedures
  • Provide support for a patient's siblings
  • Conduct classroom visits to help students understand a classmate's illness
  • Expressive activities that encourage children to share their thoughts and feelings about their hospital experience.

As child life specialists, we are an essential part of what makes a children's hospital unique. We understand that kids don't stop being kids just because they're sick.