Chris Evert Children's Hospital
Child Life Program

Child Life Program

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Breaking the Habit: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

If you've ever caught an episode of the TV series Monk, you know about the strange behavior of Adrian Monk, the Defective Detective. The title character has obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD.

Without treatment, OCD is crippling and disabling. The average person with OCD suffers more than seven years before seeking help, often because he or she is embarrassed or unaware that this mental disorder can be treated.

Understanding OCD

People with OCD suffer from obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are anxiety-producing thoughts that repeat themselves over and over. Compulsions are behaviors that people with OCD perform repeatedly to get rid of the distressing obsessions.

The symptoms vary widely from person to person. OCD often starts when a person is a child or teenager, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Without treatment, OCD can last for a lifetime.

You may have the condition if any of the following are true and cause you distress:

Washing and cleaning

  • I avoid touching certain things because I fear they're contaminated.

  • I have difficulty picking up items that are on the floor.

  • I clean my house repetitively and excessively.

  • I wash my hands repetitively and excessively.

  • I'm overly concerned with germs and diseases.

Checking and repeating

  • I frequently need to check things over and over again.

  • I have difficulty finishing things because I need to repeat actions.

  • I worry excessively about making mistakes.

  • I worry excessively that someone will be harmed because of me.


  • I must have certain things around me set in a specific order.

  • I spend a lot of time making sure things are in just the right place.

  • When others rearrange my things, I get extremely upset.


  • I have difficulty throwing things away.

  • I bring home seemingly useless materials.

  • Over the years, my home has become cluttered with things I have collected.

Thinking rituals

  • I have a need to repeat certain words or numbers in my head so I don't feel anxious or fear that some harm will befall others.

  • I need to remember events in detail or to make mental lists to prevent what I imagine will be unpleasant consequences.

Worries and pure obsessions

  • I often get upset by unpleasant thoughts that come into my mind repetitively against my will.

  • Frequently the things that pop into my mind are shameful, frightening or bizarre.

  • When I start to worry, I can't stop.


Many people with OCD benefit from medications and behavioral therapy in which they're very gradually exposed to circumstances that trigger their compulsive behaviors.

If you have symptoms of OCD, seek treatment immediately. Once it's identified, it's highly treatable, and many people who receive the appropriate behavioral therapy are able to regain control of their lives.

Child life specialists are trained professionals with expertise in helping children and their families overcome life’s most challenging events. Armed with a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Because they understand that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.

The goals of the Child Life Program:

  • Providing developmentally appropriate play, creative arts opportunities that will encourage mastery, coping and the expression of feelings
  • Increase familiarity within the hospital surroundings, preparing children, teens and families for the medical experience
  • Develop supportive relationships with patients and family members
  • Bridge the gap between home and hospital by providing familiar activities (play, school, holiday parties and birthday parties, etc)

Top 10 Reasons to call a Child Life Specialist

What is a Child Life Specialist

Child Life Specialists have earned their bachelors or master’s degrees in Child Life, Child Development or a related field and are professionally certified by the Child Life Council. Through education and play, a child life specialist can help your child understand and cope with his/her hospitalization.

Services Provided

  • Promote patient and family centered care
  • Developmentally appropriate playroom and bedside activities
  • Therapeutic play, including medical play
  • Preparation for procedures, surgeries and tests
  • Sibling support and education
  • Oncology support groups in conjunction with Gilda’s Club South Florida
  • Bereavement support
  • Special events, birthday and holiday celebrations are scheduled throughout the year.
  • Preoperative Tour
  • Pet assisted therapy
  • Hospital tours for class visitations can be arranged by request
  • Parties & activities sponsored by community organizations

The Staff

The Child Life Staff consists of a Child Life Coordinator, Certified Child Life Specialists and a Music Therapist. The Child Life staff has a vast knowledge and years of experience in childhood growth and development, and the effects of hospitalization and illness on children of all ages.

Donations and Support

Gifts of toys for playroom use, infant toys, craft supplies, books, DVD's, video games, gift cards and the like are most welcome. Donations must be new and safe. If you are interested in reviewing our wish list, click here. If you are interested making a monetary donation or in supporting a specific program, call the Broward Health Foundation at 954-712-3980.

For more information about our Child Life Program please call our Child Life Coordinator at 954-355-4356.

The Child Life Student Programs:

Volunteering is an opportunity to gain familiarization with the hospital environment. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jenny Mackie, Patient Experience Manager at 954.759.7400.

The internship is specifically designed to help students meet the eligibility requirements set by the Child Life Council for child life certification. The internship will consist of 580 hours over a term of 13-15 weeks. The interns will be directly supervised by a Certified Child Life Specialist.

Candidates should be college seniors or graduate students with a background of child development or related fields.