Child Life and Music Therapy at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick

Contact details

  • Child Life and Music Therapy Department: 9382 0007 or
  • Music Therapy: 9382 1533

Level 3, Sydney Children's Hospital, High Street, Randwick NSW 2031

The Child Life and Music Therapy Department help minimise the stress and anxiety that hospitalisation may cause and to assist children and young people.

We assist in developing resilience and positive self-esteem by addressing the developmental and psychosocial needs of infants, children and young people and their families.

The team creates positive experiences in the healthcare environment, which boost children and young people's confidence and feeling of empowerment, and supports children to cope better with illness and hospitalisation 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.

We can provide lots of resources for you and your child.

Here are a few of the most popular ones.

What is a Child Life Therapist?

A Child Life Therapist is an allied health professional who works in a hospital or hospice. Child Life Therapists have extensive training in child development and hold a minimum of a bachelor degree, primarily in fields such as Education.

They work within a clinical context to:

• Normalise the hospital environment
• Reduce hospital related anxiety
• Promote self-esteem and self-expression
• Provide education and support to children around medical procedures
• Provide distraction and assist children and families in developing coping strategies for use during procedures
• Provide support to siblings and other family members affected by the patient’s hospitalisation
• Facilitate the maintenance of relationships with home, school and the community and provide support with reintegration
• Advocate for children to have access to developmentally appropriate information regarding their healthcare
• Provide training and education to other healthcare professionals regarding child development, typical responses of children to hospitalisation and advising on best practice.

Child Life Therapists achieve these goals through the provision of:

Procedural education and preparation

Child Life Therapists educate and prepare children for their treatments and procedures to try to reduce anxiety by providing a degree of predictability and control.  We do this through the use of photographic stories of other patients undergoing a similar treatment, familiarising them with equipment and the environment before the procedure occurs and using preparation dolls.

Procedural and treatment support and distraction

Child Life Therapists assist children and young people to select and practice coping techniques and strategies which can help them through procedures and treatments. Distraction and relaxation techniques are used to help children focus their attention on something other than the procedure or treatment.  Techniques may include bubbles, music, visual imagery or interactive games on tablets, deep breathing and guided mediation techniques.  This also includes assisting children and young people with techniques and encouragement to take medication at the required intervals.

Developmental play

Play is one of the key ways children learn and can also be an important tool for assisting the reduction of  stress and anxiety.  Play is the key way that children meet their developmental milestones – which can become delayed or even regress when children are sick and in hospital for lengthy periods. Play in the hospital helps children maintain and develop milestones, provides a positive distraction from hospital and normalises the environment. 

Medical play

During medical play children and young people use hospital and medical related toys and resources in dramatic play or the creation of art.   This may involve children performing procedures on a doll or teddy, or painting with syringes.  This type of play is beneficial to in assisting children and young people to explore the feelings and emotions associated with their hospital experience.

Therapeutic and expressive activities

Hospital is a very unfamiliar environment for many children and young people.  In addition those children and young people who are quite familiar with hospital probably have a long term chronic illness.  Lack of familiarity and chronic illness can both contribute to feelings which may be difficult to express.  Therapeutic and expressive activities allow children to be creative and express their feelings in a safe and non-threatening environment. The Play and Music Therapists also offer guided expressive art activities such as mandalas, feeling charts, worry dolls, dream catchers and medical collage.

Like more information?

Visit The Australian Association of Child Life Therapists

What is a Music Therapist?

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:

• socialisation                                                                   
• 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:

• improvisation
• instrument playing
• singing/vocalising
• composition
• song/lyric writing
• music and movement
• listening
• performance
• music imagery.

Child Life Therapy services and referrals

Child Life Therapists service all wards of Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, as well as the Emergency Department and Outpatient Clinics. A Child Life Therapist is also an integral member of the Pain and Palliative Care team.

Referrals can be made by staff using EMR for all patients, and via phone or email, emergency referrals will also be accepted. Families may also self refer by calling and speaking to staff about their specific circumstances.

Music Therapy services and referrals

The Hospital's Oncology wards have a full time Music Therapist proudly sponsored by Red Kite. Other areas of the Hospital are supported by a music therapist, partly sponsored by the Australian Children's Music Foundation.

Referrals can be made by staff for inpatients. Families may also self refer by calling and speaking to staff about their specific circumstances.

Play and recreation rooms

Play or Recreation rooms are available on all inpatient wards, and are maintained by the Child Life Therapists. They are a safe space, where no medical procedures occur, and where children and young people are free to play and relax.  The rooms are accessible 24 hours a day and are stocked with toys and activities for children, young people and their siblings or visitors.

Meet the team

Child Life Therapy

Music Therapy

Like to volunteer with us?

SCH have volunteers who work specifically in the Child Life and Music Therapy Department. These volunteers work on the wards under supervision and guidance of the Child Life and Music Therapy staff and may offer music and recreational activities for children. For more information on becoming at volunteer at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, visit Volunteer at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.