Who Am I?

I am an educator, child life specialist and social worker, whose passion is anything that supports children’s development and healing in the face of everyday life or trauma. I specialize in helping children and parents through hospitalization, loss and developmental challenges. I see play as a child’s primary language and modality for self expression and healing. I teach and coach adults how to provide meaningful and therapeutic play experiences for children. I promote open-ended, child centered play and connecting with nature, discovery and co-creating meaning.

I discovered just how important play was when I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer in 2013. Check out my guest blog in the NY Times at Faces of Breast Cancer. I am also featured in this article published by FIRST- The Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types. I am currently writing a book about my adventures as a breast cancer survivor and child life specialist traveling the world.

What I Can Do for You

My speciality is play – everything about play that supports developing children, especially those effected by illness or loss. I am available online and in person in New York City to:

  • Teach play skills to caregivers and healthcare professionals who wish to connect more with children in this digital age.
  • Coach and support parents in how to prepare their children for medical events, from routine wellness appointments to surgery or longterm treatment.
  • Provide guidance for how to support siblings when a child is ill
  • Provide guidance and support for how to support children through a parent’s serious illness.
  • Provide in person or online clinical supervision to working child life specialists.
  • Teach play skills to child life students, teachers and healthcare professionals.
  • Consulting work: Project leader for Survey of the State of Play in North American Hospitals (CLC) and subject expert for “That’s Child Life!” (CLC).
  • Public speaking at conferences and  inservices in the USA and abroad. (New Zealand, Palestinian Territories, Czech Republic, Japan thus far!)
  • Write- I am the author of several chapters, many articles and hopefully, very soon, a book.

For more information, please contact me, Deb Vilas,  at debvilasconsult@gmail.com.


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