Behavioral Health Youth-In-Crisis in the PED: Child Life & Digital Art Therapy Collaboration

Learn how Child Life and Art Therapy collaborated to create a digital art therapy program for patients. Hear the results and how this program could be implemented at other sites.

In this hospital’s PED, number of psychiatric illness-related visits continues an upward trend. Youth with behavioral issues experience long waits before mental health evaluation and treatment placement. In collaboration with Child Life and Art Therapy, pediatric patients with psycho-emotional needs are offered digital art therapy as a nonthreatening format for emotion regulation, self-expression, increased communication and receptivity to treatment. A study was conducted with 100 patients diagnosed with mood disorders, self-harm and suicidal ideation. 

Patients, utilizing a secure laptop computer, expressed what their journey looks like. The multidisciplinary collaboration in this hospital’s PED resulted in an increase of services and patient-centered care for this difficult population. Use of digital art therapy and mood assessment gave Child Life and PED staff a better understanding of the patients’ journey and affect states. The program provides pediatric patients with coping skills to decrease their anxiety, encourage self-expression, and lower the need for chemical and medical restraints, resulting in reduced stress in the healthcare team and a more supportive care environment.


Describe the multi-disciplinary collaborative components, benefits and challenges of Child Life and Digital Art Therapy in the PED.

Identify the effective communication and intervention strategies utilized to meet the needs of behavioral health youth in crisis.

Report the outcomes achieved through PED child life specialist’s assessment and referrals for effective digital art therapy sessions.

Review and discuss the efficacy of the digital modality of art therapy as viewed through the eyes of patients via their consented self-expressions and associated mood outcomes.

Demonstrate and explain uses of a mood meter application for behavioral health patients and healthcare providers; including its function as an emotional change tool and its strategic role for emotional regulation.

Suggested Domain: Intervention

Christin Haughton


Christin Haughton, MS, CCLS : Child Life Specialist at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital, in the Pediatric Emergency Department. Christin’s eleven-year experience as a CCLS includes nine years in a Level 1 Trauma center, seeing patients from newborn to age 24, treated and evaluated for medical illnesses and injuries, traumas, and behavioral health crises.

Kendra Carlson


Art Therapist at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital and Adjunct Professor at Springfield College Graduate Art Therapy & Counseling Program. Kendra’s fourteen-year experience includes lifespan populations with a focus on adolescents and experience in chronic physical and mental illness. Developed and implements a grant-based digital art therapy program for behavioral health patients in crisis as well as hospitalized adolescents and children with co-morbidity diagnoses and trauma. Kendra supervises post-graduate students for art therapy registration and instructs courses including family art therapy, research, and substance use population.


Behavioral Health Youth-In-Crisis in the PED: Child Life & Digital Art Therapy Collaboration
09/30/2021 at 1:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
09/30/2021 at 1:00 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
7 Questions
5 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
5 Questions  |  Unlimited attempts  |  4/5 points to pass
1.50 PDUs credits  |  Certificate available
1.50 PDUs credits  |  Certificate available