Main Navigation
Apply Now Request Info


HDFS 404 - Child Life Theory and Practice

  • 3 credits

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

Through this online child life course, you will learn to:

  • Explain the philosophy of the child life profession to patients, families, and prospective employers/internship sites.
  • Apply Association of Child Life Professionals 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.


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

Important Information

All prerequisites must be completed, or consent must be given from the instructor, 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: Colorado State University does not provide support or affiliation for child life internships.

Textbooks and Materials

Section 801


  • Meeting Children's Psychosocial Needs Across the Health-Care Continuum (2018)
    Rollins, J., Bolig, R., and Mahan, C. C. (eds.)
    ISBN: 10: 141410805
  • The Handbook of Child Life: A Guide for Pediatric Psychosocial Care, 1st Ed. (2018)
    Thompson, Richard H.
    ISBN: 10: 039809212-2

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

Please check with the CSU bookstore for course requirements.


Suzanna Paisley

Suzanna Paisley has her Masters in Science in Child Life through Bank Street College of Education and has been a Ceritified Child Life Specialist since 2009. She has worked as a child life specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado from 2010 to the present and has taught the Child Life and Theory course at CSU since 2020. Trauma support and processing has been a focus throughout her career and has published on processing medical truama through play. Suzanna has also worked as a private practice specialist in schools supporting staff, families and students with trauma and grief.