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Child life therapy

Child Life Therapy

Child Life Therapists aim to help children, young people and their families cope with the emotional stress and anxiety that a cancer diagnosis may bring.

Child life therapists support children and young people’s needs using play, preparation, education and individualised coping strategies; helping them build resilience, and create normalcy during their cancer treatments.

Empowering your child through play

Hospital and treatments can be an unfamiliar and challenging experience for children and young people.  Child Life Therapists advocate for play to be an integral part of their care. 

Child Life Therapists can support your child's needs in a variety of ways including:

  • Encouraging their development, independence and resilience
  • Providing a positive experience and allowing feelings to be shared with empathy and understanding
  • Helping them to understand what is happening so it is less threatening
  • Relieving stress and anxiety
  • Helping patients and families prepare for procedures and promoting compliance
  • Creating a feeling of 'normal' in the clinical environment
  • Helping them become familiar with medical equipment
  • Providing opportunities for debriefing, self expression, and self esteem building
  • Developing a sense of control and empowerment through play

How we can help

Child life therapists can help your child in many ways which include:

  • Procedure education which is the child-friendly explanation of medical procedures, adapted to your child's developmental needs. Play scan models, toys, books and pictures can be used to help prepare a child such as during and after MRIs or cannula insertions.
  • Procedural Support including Re-focusing strategies to help children regulate their emotions and manage stress and anxiety during difficult procedures. Books, iPads, relaxation and imagery may be used to provide a strong positive focus, and to develop coping strategies.
  • Medical play is a learning experience which gives children the opportunity to explore, familiarise and gain an understanding of medical equipment and treatments.  It gives children an opportunity to explore difficult feelings they may be experiencing.  Play medical kits, dolls, medical equipment, social stories, or art activities such as syringe paintings, may be used..
  • Theraputic and developmental play to normalise the healthcare environment for your child.  This type of play provides choice, promotes positive experiences, and supports all areas of their development.

Meet the team

Lisa Carnovale (Senior Child Life Therapist)

Sharon White (Child Life Therapist)

Wendy Le  (Child Life Therapist)

Cathy Quinn (HOD – Child Life and Music Therapy) Wed, Thurs and Fri.

Angelica (Child Life Therapy Assistant, Oncology Treatment Centre).


Child Life Therapy brochure

Download our Child Life Therapy brochure


Wondero books help children to understand and cope with medical procedures. Young patients in the Cancer Centre for Children are given the books when undergoing certain treatments. You can also purchase Wondero and the Bone Marrow Transplant and Wondero and the Central Line from the Kids' Health Bookshop in The Children's Hospital at Westmead or online.

Recommended websites

Association of Child Life Therapy Australia

Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Childcare 

Recommended resources

Books for anxious children

Resilience resources

Mindfulness resources

Grief resources

Contact us

You'll find Child Life Therapy on Level 2, The Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Phone: (02) 9845 0000

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