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Child Life & Expressive Therapies

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Child Life & Expressive Therapies uses evidence-based practice to minimize your child's stress during care. We embrace the value of play as we enhance growth and development of infants, children and adolescents.

​Our team normalizes your child's environment and reduces stress of medical experiences by providing the following services.


A Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) prepares you and your child for upcoming procedures. We use picture preparation books, teaching dolls and hands-on medical play so your child feels informed and prepared. This visual preparation sets expectations for your child. They learn what they will see, hear, feel and taste.

Coping and support

A CCLS can support you and your child during medical procedures. We assess each patient so we can offer coping and distraction techniques that are developmentally appropriate for your child, like deep breathing.

Comfort positioning

Comfort positioning encourages parent involvement during procedures while decreasing need for staff restraint. We train parents to provide a variety of "hug" holds. These allow your child to be in an upright position while engaging in coping techniques and distraction.

This technique can be used in a variety of procedures to decrease you and your child's fear and anxiety.

Inpatient pre-admission tours

Individual tours are available on a scheduled basis to help you and your child become familiar with Marshfield Children's Hospital and Child Life & Expressive Therapies. Tours include a walking tour, medical play and question and answer time.

We encourage you to contact Child Life & Expressive Therapies before your child's surgery to schedule a tour: 715-387-7328.​​

​​Therapeutic play

Play gives your child a sense of control and helps to normalize their environment. We use bedside and group activities to provide socialization and age-appropriate play opportunities.

Medical play

​CCLSs use medical play pre- and post-procedure to help your child understand and master their medical experiences. During medical play, we use medical teaching dolls, medical equipment, medical models and art materials. These tools help your child become familiar with the unknown.

Pet therapy

Pet therapy enhances positive physical, cognitive, emotional and social interactions. Specially trained and certified dogs are scheduled to visit at bedside and in group settings.

Music therapy

Board certified music therapists offer goal-specific support and interventions including songwriting, active playing, listening, improvisation, singing, movement and relaxation exercises. Our music therapists offer bedside interactions and group sessions.

Children of adult patients

We're also available for children of adult​ patients in our adult medical and surgical intensive care units (MICU and SICU), adult oncology and palliative care. Our team can provide preparation and coping techniques for children who have ill parents.

CCLSs are consulted to see patients in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Surgery and Emergency. Our services are available seven days a week.

Grief support

Our team works with families experiencing death of a loved one. We provide emotional support, expressive activities, and memory and legacy building. We'll help make it easier for your children to cope during this difficult time.

Contact us for grief resources and support: 715-387-7361.

Outpatient services

Outpatient CCLSs are responsible for providing procedural preparation and emotional support to help patients cope with stress of a clinic experience.

Our team provides services through Marshfield Clinic, including sedation, radiology and ambulatory surgery.

If your child needs preparation or support for outpatient procedures or ambulatory surgery, please contact your primary health care provider and request Child Life & Expressive Therapies.

Sibshops/Sibling support

Child Life & Expressive Therapies offer Sibshops, events held for siblings of children with special needs and chronic health care needs.

An adult facilitator guides Sibshops where 5- to 12-year-old children enjoy games, activities and recreation mixed with open discussion time for support.

For more information and dates, please call 715-221-8824.

Hero-of-the-Month – Kids Wish Network

Hero-of-the-Month program recognizes little heroes who have faced difficult experiences. ​

 Student Programs

Practicum opportunities

Internship opportunities


Hospital Business Hours
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Visiting Hours - Daily
10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

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