Shani Thornton is a practicing Certified Child Life Specialist in Placer County, Folsom, and El Dorado Hills. She supports children and families coping with life’s challenges, such as a child’s medical diagnosis, treatment, and loss. She also supports children who have a loved one that may be ill or on palliative/hospice care.

With her educational background and training expertise, she uses therapeutic play, creative arts, social stories, and developmentally appropriate language to help children understand and process these challenges. She prepares children for new experiences, provides opportunities for self-expression, and teaches coping and advocacy skills. She works closely with parents and caregivers to continue these healthy relationships and support their child’s needs. Contact Today

Workshops for Children (School, Day Care, Children’s Programs)

Teddy Bear Clinic 

Having a child life specialist speak with children about routine wellness visits and the fears associated with painful medical procedures, such as a vaccination and blood test, helps kids process their past experiences and find healthy coping strategies for the future. Children are given an opportunity to play with real and pretend medical materials, that help them become familiarized with the tools and find a sense of control within the play. The child life specialist is also there to validate emotions, clear up misconceptions, and teach coping strategies to help kids feel confident and well prepared for their next doctor visit. This interactive workshop can be tailored for all ages and group settings (schools, children’s community programs, daycare, scouts, and playgroups).

Download a Teddy Bear Clinic Flyer

Grief and Loss

When children experience loss of a community member it can be devastating. Having a child life specialist provide support to families, caregivers, and children during this time can be extremely beneficial. The child life specialist establishes a safe environment for children to process the loss, express their feelings, clear up misconceptions, and learn therapeutic coping tools for grief. The specialist will also work with caring adults to provide education on a child’s developmental understanding of loss and supportive tools to help them cope.

Workshops for Families (Individual or Groups)

Sibling Support: Transitions with a New Baby

Bringing home a new baby is so exciting for families. However, older siblings may have a challenging time with this transition. It can feel a bit overwhelming as they try to adjust to their new role as “big brother/sister”. Parents may notice some regression in toilet training, sleep and eating patterns, and having an increase in meltdowns. It’s all normal, but can be exhausting and hard to manage. Child life services can support families during this transitional time through therapeutic activities, parent education, and preparation.

Download a Flyer: Child Life Services Supporting Families with the Transition of a New Baby

Supporting Families in the NICU

Having a baby is an exciting time for the whole family, but what happens if your newborn is premature or has medical complications and needs to be hospitalized? How do you begin to cope with this unexpected change and support your children at home? Child life services can support your family.  Using developmentally appropriate language, therapeutic play, and education, the specialist will help siblings understand what is happening and find an expressive outlet to support their thoughts and feelings. The specialist can also prepare siblings for hospital visitation, provide parents with tools and resources, and support the whole family through this time.

Download a Flyer: Child Life Services_ Supporting Families in the NICU

Workshops for Parents and Caregivers

Parent Support During a Pandemic

The pandemic of COVID-19 has caused an increase in anxiety with children and adults. Parents may feel overwhelmed by supporting their child’s needs and emotions, while still trying to manage their own. Families coping with additional struggles of a chronic illness or recent loss may feel even more vulnerable. This service will help parents talk to their kids about COVID and learn supportive tools to manage stress. The session can be offered to individual families or within community groups. Contact today.

Be the Best Healthcare Advocate for your Child

The medical environment can be extremely overwhelming and frightening for children and their caregivers. This workshop is designed to educate and support parents on useful tools that ease fears and trauma, strengthen advocacy skills, and provide children with positive healthcare experience. The child life specialist will cover topics on how to prepare a child for a medical visit (routine, emergency, or scheduled procedure), incorporate distraction techniques, and continue supportive measures at home. This workshop can be lead as a child/parent group or adults only with an opportunity for hands-on activities. It can also be tailored to a specific age group and/or medical diagnosis.

Connecting Through Play

Children learn about their world through play. It’s the foundation in their development. Through play, they process their experiences, develop language, strengthen social skills, build self-confidence and problem solve. When caring adults have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a child’s open-ended play, a deepening bond takes shape. A child life specialist can teach parents and caregivers how to connect at this level through a child-centered play technique. Caring adults will learn how to create a warm and inviting play environment, how to hold back and allow the child to lead, provide empathic language, and encourage children to problem-solve. This workshop can be tailored for all age groups and settings (parent/playgroups, schools, daycares, community children’s programs). This can be in a single presentation or over a series, giving parents and caregivers the opportunity to try it out and strengthen their skills.

Contact Shani at, 917-733-5918 for further information or fill out the form below.