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What is a child life specialist?

If your child has had to spend time in the hospital or is suffering from chronic health conditions, it is highly likely that you will have come across a child life specialist. This field developed as a result of pioneering work by Emma Plak in the 1960s, who trained with Maria Montessori.

All about child life specialists

The role of the child life specialist is primarily to help children to cope with the hospital environment and the adjustments required when undergoing hospital treatment. Working in both inpatient settings and outpatient clinics, a child life specialist will educate, prepare and support children through tough times involving procedures, tests and phases of acute illness, treatment and recovery. About child life specialists Due to their training in child development and awareness of developmentally appropriate interventions, the child life specialist is able to support children throughout very traumatic and challenging times. At the heart of this valuable role is the belief in viewing the care of the child as including parents, providing both family-centred and child-centred support. They may also work with play therapists who are able to offer additional support to the children whilst they are in hospital.

How to train as a child life specialist

If you are thinking about training to work as a child life specialist, a genuine interest in the care and well-being of children is essential. You will also need to be confident and empathetic with the child's family and work effectively with many different health professionals. A backround in child development or health care will certainly help. Child life specialist training Due to an increased awareness as to the importance and value of the work carried out by child life specialists, more training courses and education programmes have been introduced. To learn all about getting properly certified in this area, head to the Child Life Council website at Childlife.org for more information. the exams are held twice a year for those wishing to become qualified and positions are available in almost every hospital. It is well worth getting in touch with your school or college careers advisor to learn more about how you get from where you are now to becoming a fully qualified child life specialist.

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