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Child Life Services at Shriners Childrens Boston

Certified child life specialists are clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury, and they are vital in improving patient and family care, satisfaction, and overall experience. Child life specialists know that by centering the emotional needs of children and families in every aspect of care – from environment to treatment plans – they can help eliminate trauma and stress that leads to potential lifelong health implications.

At Shriners Children's Boston, our child life specialists help children and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability and loss. They provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety and pain.

Our child life specialists consistently come up with creative ideas to keep our patients engaged and occupied – whether it’s in our pre-operative waiting area, inpatient unit, or outpatient clinic. Read on to learn about two of our patients’ favorite child life activities: pet therapy and music therapy.

Pet Therapy

Pet therapy involves visits from a certified therapy dog twice a month. Interacting with a therapy dog gives our patients the opportunity to engage in a healing activity with a furry friend who is non-judgmental and offers affection.

Brooke, our certified child life specialist who oversees the program, puts it this way, “The human-animal bond is so unique, and we are fur-ever grateful that our patients can seek comfort from Lincoln, Olive, Liwali, Juno, Maya and Duncan during their times of need, helping them to smile, reflect and be silly, if only for a moment.”

Music Therapy

Our board-certified music therapist works one-on-one with our patients to accomplish therapeutic goals around pain management, anxiety reduction and physical rehabilitation. For example, our music therapist may play an uplifting song on their guitar while a patient with a burn injury undergoes a painful dressing change. Further, patients who are refining and improving their motor skills following major rehabilitative surgery may create their own song on the ukulele with guidance and support from our music therapist.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, our patients were able to benefit from music therapy while also staying safe. Our child life team collaborated with our music therapist to bring the healing art of music to our patients through virtual iPad visits.