Child Life and Music Therapy at The Children's Hospital at Westmead
Enquiries: (02) 9845 3369
The Child Life and Music Therapy Department aims to minimise the stress and anxiety that children and their families may experience through their healthcare journey.
Child Life and Music Therapists help children and young people to develop resilience and positive self esteem by addressing their developmental, social and emotional needs.
The team creates positive experiences in the healthcare environment, through the use of play, music, education and self-expression activities.
Child Life and Music Therapist's work collaboratively with other disciplines to achieve mutual goals.
What is Child Life Therapy?
Child Life Therapy is an Allied Health profession which focuses on supporting, educating and empowering children and young people through their healthcare journey.
Our services- how we can help
Procedure education if the child-friendly explanation of any medical procedure a child may experience throughout their health journey.
The Child Life Therapist will use developmentally appropriate language and resources such as toys, books and pictures to ensure the child, young person and family are well prepared before, during and after procedures such as MRI's or bloods tests.
Distraction and individualised re-focusing strategies involve the use of various resources and techniques including books, iPads, relaxation and imagery to provide a strong positive focus during medical procedures.
This may reduce anxiety and provide choice and control for a child during a procedure.
Medical play gives children and their families the opportunity to explore, familiarise and gain an understanding of medical equipment. It may include doctor dress ups, doll making, medical equipment collage and syringe paintings.
Therapeutic and developmental play
Children in hospital may not express their feelings as easily as they may at home or in a familiar environment.
Therapeutic and expressive activities allow children to:
- Be creative and express their feelings
- Provide choice, build self esteem and resilience
- Work towards developmental milestones
What is Music Therapy?
A Music Therapist is an Allied Health Professional who works in healthcare and private practice settings. They have a Masters in Music Therapy and use music in planned and creative contexts to assist patients with therapeutic aims around:
• communication (verbal/non verbal)
• relaxation and stimulation
• pain or stress management
• emotional expression or coping
• self-expression and self-esteem
• physical, motor and cognitive skills
These aims are met through a range of musical applications including:
• instrument playing
• song/lyric writing
• music and movement
• music imagery
Child Life Therapy
Inpatient referrals are accepted from staff within the Hospital.
Outpatient referrals are accepted from specialists associated with the Hospital. Appointments will be arranged according to the needs of the child and current waiting lists.
Inpatient referrals are accepted from staff within the Hospital according to the needs of the child and areas currently serviced.
Take a look at our resources
- Download the Talking with your child about their heart operation brochure
- Download the My visit to Cardiac Preadmission Clinic book
- Download the My Heart Operation book
- Buy 'Wondero and the central line' from the Kids Health bookshop
- Buy 'Wondero and the bone marrow transplant' from the Kids Health bookshop
- Buy Music Therapy resources
- Recommended books, videos and movies for children with anxiety
- Visit Association of Child Life Therapists Australia
- Visit the Association for the wellbeing of children in healthcare
- Visit the Association of Child Life Professionals
- Find more information on Music Therapy here
- Visit the Australian Music Therapy Association (AMTA)
Students and volunteers
The Child Life Therapy Department currently accepts university students for their placement. Students must be studying degrees in Early Childhood or Primary Education. Please contact the student coordinator for further details of the application process.
Music Therapy provides clinical training placements to students from accredited Australian Music Therapy courses. Please contact your student placement coordinator for further details of the application process.
Volunteers work specifically in the Child Life and Music Therapy department. These volunteers support staff in the preparation and cleaning of resources. Volunteers may work on the wards under the supervision and guidance of therapists.
For more information on becoming a volunteer at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, visit Volunteer at The Children's Hospital at Westmead.
Meet the team
Child Life Therapists
- Cathy Quinn - Head of Department (Wed Thurs, Fri)
- Sarah Scott - Head of Department (Mon and Tues)
- Vanessa Starr - Deputy Head of Department (Leave)
- Lisa Carnovale (Relieving Deputy Head of Department)
- Mandy Williams
- Christina Howe
- Sharon White
- Teneile Gray
- Wendy Le
- Jodie Cannell
- Karen Weir
- Georgia O'Callaghan
- Tracy Bush
- Amy Cheung
Child Life Therapy Assistants
- Amy Wright
- Angelica Torrijos
- Rachael Calverley
- Anna Ignatovich
- Roxanne McLeod
- Michelle Howe
- Miriam Cromie (Leave)