The cancer care team: Child life specialist

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A child-life specialist will help prepare you and educate you about your diagnosis, procedures and treatments. Learn how a child-life specialist can help you as part of your health-care team.

Key points

  • A child-life specialist is a health-care professional who will help explain your cancer diagnosis and treatment to you in a way that is easy to understand.
  • As part of your health-care team, a child-life specialist will help you learn about your body as well as the hospital environment and can help advocate for you.

What is a child life specialist?

A child-life specialist prepares you for and educates you about diagnosis, medical procedures and tests. They help you find a way to make those things easier for you to approach.

Child-life specialists avoid medical language and explain things in a way that makes it easier to understand, for example through pictures, books and real medical equipment. They can help you to understand what's happening in your body and what the medical team plans to do while you are under their care.

How can a child life specialist help me?

A child-life specialist can help you to learn about your body and find your way through the hospital environment. They can help you swallow pills, get through a difficult test, cope with your fears, or feel better when you are feeling blue. They can also help your parents, caregivers, brothers or sisters to understand the hospital better and help them recognize your needs so that the entire experience is easier.

A child-life specialist also respects that you are a teenager in a children's hospital, so they can help you to find things to do that won't make you feel like a little kid. They can provide a distraction when you need it or just sit and listen if you need to talk. They can also help you have your voice heard when you have something that you need the medical team or your parents to hear.

Child-life specialists work in many different units throughout the hospital. They also run events in the hospital such as movies and dances.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019