Working through grief and loss with children and their families, group and individual approaches

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Tozeland, Judith C.
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This practicum focused on assisting children and their families in coping with grief from the loss of a parent or significant adult. The theoretical approach taken was a systemic, developmental perspective which considered the child's and the family's development. The intervention methods were individual play therapy and group work. The children in this practicum were between the ages of 5 and 12 and had lost a parent within the last two years. The practicum included two interventions: (a) eight children and their guardians were seen in group therapy, and (b) three children were seen in individual therapy and their caregivers received counselling. Themes that emerged from the intervention focused on the ability of the family to allow, support and accept the feelings their children were experiencing, the open or closed communication system of the family in tolerating the expression of grief, the function the deceased served in the family, the developmental level of the child at the time of the death, and how emotionally close the child was to the parent who died. The primary focus in this work involved providing an opportunity for children to express their grief and for parents to understand and support the grieving process their children were experiencing.