HDFS 404 - Child Life Theory and Practice

  • 2 credits

Theories and skills related to effective child life practice in hospitals.

Course Learning Objectives:

• Explain the philosophy of the child life profession to internship supervisors, families, and prospective employers.
• Apply Child Life Council certification standards and professional expectations to effective child life practice.
• Relate knowledge of issues that hospitalized children and their families typically face to effective practice.
• Apply theories of child development and family systems to effective child life practice in hospitals.
• Relate knowledge of grief and loss as well as stress and coping to child life practice.
• Adapt child life interventions to individual differences in children as well as cultural, ethnic, and class differences in families.
• Prepare for the career challenges and opportunities of the child life field.

IMPORTANT: If you register for this course after the start of the term, please contact the instructor at the time of registration. By contacting the instructor, you ensure you are added to the CANVAS section as soon as possible and have access to the course and details about the class requirements.

This course can be applied towards:


HDFS 310 (Infant and Child Development in Context) or PSY 260 (Child Psychology).

Important Information

All prerequisites must be completed or consent from the instructor given prior to enrollment.

This course fulfills all of Child Life Council’s requirements for the Child Life course. It is taught by a Certified Child Life Specialist, has a focus on children in the healthcare environment, and includes all of the six applied areas of study. For more information, please see: http://www.childlife.org/Certification/Getting%20Certified/EligibilityRequirements.cfm.

Textbook and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Child Life in Hospitals: Theory and Practice, 1st Ed. (1981)
    Thompson, Richard H. and Stanford, Gene
    ISBN: 978-0398044565
  • Meeting Children's Psychosocial Needs Across the Health-Care Continuum (2005)
    Rollins, J., Bolig, R., and Mahan, C. C. (eds.)
    ISBN: 978-0937821701
  • Psychosocial Care of Children in Hospitals: A Clinical Practice Manual (1990)
    Gaynard, L. et al.


Tommi McHugh