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Child Centered Play in Healthcare Settings

Play can aid in the development of the nursing therapeutic relationship, and it can also be used as an assessment tool. Using medical play can decrease anxiety, and assist with specific issues like needle phobia. Play therapy is a powerful intervention for children but not all hospitals or clinics will have access to a formal Play Therapist. Paediatric nurses are well placed to incorporate aspects of play into their work with children and families.

Course Overview

Child-centered play is a powerful tool for building relationships and supporting development and healing. It provides a wonderful bridge of trust between healthcare providers and paediatric patients and their families. Whether participants seek to deepen their work with children, model these skills for caregivers, or learn skills to use at home, this workshop will teach hands-on skills for facilitating child-centered play.

A child-centered approach goes well beyond the boundaries of play. It is an antidote to the current trend towards technological disconnect. The empathic skills of a child-centered play can be woven into any clinical work that you do, making your interactions with children even more playful, engaging, supportive and kind.

Learning Outcomes

In this session, you will:

  • Apply basic tracking and narrating skills associated with child-centered play;
  • Demonstrate empathic responses;
  • Understand the components of ACT 3 Point Limit Setting;
  • Explain to caregivers the benefits of child-centered play;
  • Know when to make a referral for child life therapy or play therapy.;

Course Content



First Published




1 hour

Apr 2019

Apr 2019

Jun 2021

Usage & Integrity
Professional Development Leave Documents

Deborah Vilas

Certified Child Life Specialist


As a child, Deborah survived a dire prognosis when born with a rare congenital skin disorder. As a result, she spent a lot of time in hospital as a child and did not receive any child life services. Deborah knows the importance of pain and trauma prevention first hand and because of this, she has felt a calling to this work.

Deborah says, “I experience much joy in it, so I know I took the best path for me”. She has been certified as a child life specialist in 1993 with some of her happiest career moments including keynoting at the Child Life Council International Summit on Pediatric Psychosocial Care, presenting at the United Nations, and teaching abroad in Japan and the Czech Republic.