Here is a list of potential opportunities for the child life intern. These are in addition to the basic internship requirements.
The child life staff at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics help make every child’s health care experience a positive one. They work with children and adolescents to minimize the stress children can feel during hospital stays or visits to the clinics, emergency rooms, radiology, or surgery areas.
This work is crucial 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 build on children’s strengths, using many techniques to help them adjust to their medical experiences.
- Children's - Minneapolis
- Children's - St. Paul
- Children's Clinics - Woodwinds
- Children's – Minnetonka
Child life professionals
Our certified child life specialists have a bachelor’s or master’s degrees in fields such as child development, education, and child psychology. They specialize in working with children in health care settings, and address the child’s need to understand and cope emotionally with the medical experience.
Our child life activities associates have associate or bachelor’s degrees in development. They focus on a child’s needs for play to support normal growth and development. All child life staff members see patients in playrooms, waiting areas, and patient rooms.
Why playing is so important
Play is the cornerstone of expression in childhood and a normal part of everyday life. The child life department provides opportunities and appropriate toys and activities to encourage children to play. Often through play, a child can relax enough to express feelings or fears about medical experiences.
Child life staff members maintain specially equipped playrooms that are safe, stress-free places for patients to play. Playrooms are the center of activities, including visits from zoo animals, bingo, and other special events.
Playing with medical materials helps a child gain a sense of control. Child life specialists supervise medical play and help children become familiar with hospital equipment. As the child’s creative imagination unfolds, the medical equipment and experiences become less frightening.
Additional child life services
Child life staff members:
- 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.
Facilitate support groups for children facing a chronic or life-threatening illness or experiencing a family loss.
- Conduct classroom visits to help students understand a classmate’s illness and health care.
- Collaborate on a closed-circuit television system with live programming.
- Coordinate pet therapy visits.
- Facilitate joint programming with community organizations.
Special facilities for children
In addition to the playrooms, child life staff members maintain other special rooms to help hospitalized children feel at home. Children’s – Minneapolis and Children – St. Paul have libraries with books and audiotapes. Special facilities in the clinics, emergency rooms, short stay units, and day surgery centers give children a place to play. Teenagers’ recreational needs are met with movies, video games, computers, and a teen lounge on each of the two main campuses.
It is crucial to involve the entire family in order to ensure the best possible outcome. Our staff works closely with parents and guardians to provide support and understanding of what the child is going through. We also provide information and support to siblings to promote their ability to cope with the situation.
A note to parents
Call our staff if you have questions about your child’s behavior or adjustment before or after a hospital or medical experience.
Child Life internships and supervised exposure experiences
We offer student internships and opportunities for students to learn more about the child life department and hospitalized children. If you have questions about future internship opportunities, please call the child life department in Minneapolis or St. Paul at the number listed below.
Special assistance for physicians
Physicians admitting a child may call the child life department in advance for information on preparing the child for hospitalization. For information call:
- (651) 220-6465 for Children’s – St. Paul
- (612) 813-6259 for Children’s – Minneapolis
- (952) 930-8600 for Children’s - Minnetonka
- (651) 232-0986 for Children’s Clinics – Woodwinds
What is music therapy?
Music therapy is a professional healthcare discipline that uses the clinical applications of music to achieve non-musical goals. Specifically applied music therapy interventions help establish a non-threatening, supportive environment in which the needs of patients and families can be met creatively.
Who may benefit from music therapy? Patients and families do not need a musical background to benefit from music therapy. Music therapists serve patients ranging from newborn to young adults at various levels of engagement and responsiveness, from sedated to active. Children at any developmental age or level of functioning may participate in music therapy.
What are the potential benefits of music therapy?
- Pain management
- Physical rehabilitation
- Anxiety and stress reduction
- Family support
- Normal growth and development
- Opportunities for choice and control
- Positive change in mood and emotional states
- Learning coping skills and techniques
- Effect positive physiological changes
Who provides music therapy?
Music therapists are trained at a bachelor's or master's degree level and have completed a supervised, clinical internship using music therapy. Practicing music therapists are required to obtain and maintain certification (MT-BC)through the Certification Board for Music Therapists.
What types of services are provided?
- Instrument play
- Song writing
- Lyric discussion
- Music-assisted relaxation
- Music for procedural support
- CD compilation
- Music for end-of-life
When are music therapy services provided?
Music therapy hours in Minneapolis:
Music therapy hours in St. Paul:
What might a music therapy session be like?
Although all music therapy sessions are different, here are some illustrations of commonly used interventions.
Infants: Music therapy for this age group is typically aimed at relaxation or developmental stimulation goals. A music therapist may sing or hum softly to your baby, play a reverie harp or guitar, and use a variety of interactive percussion instruments and songbooks to encourage reaching, grasping, visual attention and interaction. A music therapist may adapt music to be appropriate for infants who are able to tolerate only minimal levels of stimulation. A music therapist may encourage parent involvement through singing along, rocking, or providing touch. A music therapist may also provide education to parents on using music to encourage normal growth and development. Music therapy may reduce stress in infants, increasing oxygen saturation and lowering heart and breathing rate.
Toddlers/Preschool age: Music therapy for this age group encourages creative expression of emotions, opportunities for choices and control, and ways to cope with their hospital experience. Music therapy can also help provide distraction during uncomfortable procedures. A music therapist may provide opportunities to play and choose instruments such as drums, shakers, xylophones, and harmonicas. Playing and listening to familiar songs can create a feeling of security for this age group while promoting active engagement in their hospital experience.
School-age: Music therapy for this age group can be similar to interventions provided for younger children, however older children may be able to engage in more complex interventions such as songwriting, free improvisation, and guided relaxation techniques. A school-aged child may be able to engage in projects which take more than one session to complete, such as writing and recording an original song or learning a simple song on the guitar or xylophone. These interventions can promote mastery and self-esteem, as well as encourage involvement in their healthcare experience.
Teen-age: Music therapy for this age group can be helpful for actively processing feelings and emotions associated with illness, developing techniques to cope with anxiety and pain, and providing normative musical experiences. Teens may engage in songwriting, creation of CDs and/or playlists, and lyric analysis to promote emotional processing, relaxation or movement goals. Teens may also engage in guided relaxation and learn techniques to be used outside of the music therapy session.
Family-Centered Sessions: Family participation is encouraged in all sessions to the degree that the family desires. Siblings and family members are encouraged to sing, play instruments, and actively engage in the music therapy process. Family and siblings may benefit from an opportunity to participate in a creative, supportive outlet, which can reduce stress and promote well-being.
Collaboration with other hospital disciplines: Music therapists may collaborate with various other hospital disciplines such as physical, occupational, and speech therapy, integrative medicine, chaplaincy, and child life. For example, a music therapist may co-treat during an occupational therapy session, encouraging grasp or fine motor skills through instrument play.
To request music therapy, please contact:
Erinn Danielson and Kim Arter
Child Life Internship Program
Thank you for your interest in the Child Life Internship Program of Children's Hospitals and Clinics. We have two main campuses, one in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul. Each campus offers a full time (40 hour/week) 14-week placement to undergraduate students in their senior year. We also accept post-graduate students and those in Master's programs.
Our application deadlines and process follow the recommendations of the Child Life Council:
You will not be notified upon receipt of your application. Use mail/shipping options if you require delivery confirmation.
Here are links to more information about the program and application materials.
- Program Information. Contains information about the internship and our selection criteria.
- Program Application
- Memorandum of Agreement. The contract between Children's Hospitals and Clinics must be reviewed and approved by your institution's legal department or administrative offices. We encourage you to submit this document for immediate review. If you are accepted into the internship program, the contract will need to be finalized prior to your start date. You do not need to include the contract with your application materials. It is only required if you are accepted.
- Internship Opportunities
Other information prospective students need to review:
- Health Requirements for Students. For review only. Documentation will be required if you are accepted for an internship.
- Operating Rules for Clinical Education Agreements
- Expectations of Students
- Description of Department and Roles
Please complete the application form and return it, along with the requisite supporting documents to:
Diane Dingley, MS, CCLS
Children's Hospitals and Clinics
Child Life Department MS 32-7210
2525 Chicago Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Children's always receives a large number of applications for internships. Because we accept a limited number of students at one time, we recommend you apply for an internship at more than one hospital.
Internship Program Information
The child life internship program provides intense working experience in child life. We place an emphasis on candidates with a strong academic background in child development.
Please note: You will not be notified upon receipt of your application. Use mail/shipping options if you require delivery confirmation.
Required Academic Background
Senior in college or completed bachelor's or master's degree.
Suggested Majors (may include but are not exclusive to)
- Child life
- Child development
- Human growth and development
- Child psychology
- Supervised involvement with healthy children (minimum of 100 hours).
- Supervised involvement with children in the health care setting (minimum of 100 hours).
- Solid understanding of child development through course work and experience.
- Introductory understanding of/exposure to child life through readings, course work and experience.
Expectations of Student
- Commitment of one (1) full semester (14 weeks), 40 hours/week.
- Flexible schedule to include some weekends and evenings.
- Provide on-site supervisor with list of expectations, requirements, evaluation from university and maintain contact with university supervisor.
- Required readings, weekly journal, and final project.
Child Life Department Responsibilities
- Child life supervisor who will communicate with university supervisor.
- Weekly supervision meetings.
- Exposure to a variety of ages and diagnostic groups.
- Multi-disciplinary setting.
- Flexibility to tailor internship experience to student's needs and interests.
- Normalizing and therapeutically-oriented interactions with patients and families.
- Opportunities for continuing education.
- We strongly suggest that students do not have an outside job during this internship.
- We recommend that applicants contact the Child Life Council to gain more information about the child life profession.