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Kid's Grief - A Handbook for Group Leaders

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Kid's Grief - A Handbook for Group Leaders
By Dianne McKissock

This handbook is designed as a resource for people involved in palliative care services, and for others involved in the care of the dying and bereaved. I hope it will become a valuable resource for those who are currently leading, or planning to lead, support groups for bereaved children.

Children's bereavement support groups have many similarities to adult support groups, and to support groups with a different focus. They also have many differences which will be highlighted in this handbook. The material is presented in clear and simple form so that those who are new to the experience of facilitating children¹s grief support groups will have clear guidelines to follow. Once confidence has been developed, you will be encouraged to be creative by developing strategies that are relevant to your participants, your skill level, and your geographical area.

This is a quote from a reviewer.....

"It's very impressive! I like the fact that it's really, really professional yet still incredibly down-to-earth and approachable."


Kid's Grief - A Handbook for Group Leaders by Dianne McKissock

Section 1 - Introduction
Rationale - why groups
Who are groups for?
Philosophical premises

Section 2 - Beginning
Creating a therapeutic environment
Qualities of an effective group leader
Working with bereaved children
Foundations for a therapeutic environment
Maintaining the therapeutic environment
Group work supervision planning form
Further environment issues
The venue

Section 3 - Ethical and legal issues
Safety first

Section 4 - Pre-group planning
Pre-group planning
Age groupings
Group size
How often should groups meet?
Will we run a concurrent group for caregivers?
Recruiting participants
Assessing applicants before inclusion in a support group
Guidelines for pre-group session with parent or other guardian
Assessing a bereaved child before inclusion in a support group
Further important points to note
Child assessment guidelines in summary
Decisions about inclusion in support group - children first
Decisions about including adults in a concurrent support group
Rules about group attendance
Rules about leaving the group
National Centre for Childhood Grief - Client contract
Additional comments
Personal information - therapy groups for grieving children
Contracts for adolescents/young people attending group programs

Section 5 - Kids' grief - refreshing our memories
Childhood developmental ages and stages
Piaget's stages of cognitive development
Sigmund Freud's theory of psychosexual development
Eric Ericson's stages of psychosocial development
Kids' grief - refreshing our memories
Important points to remember about grief - adults and children
Fears of bereaved children and young people
What do grieving children need in order to address these fears?
Availability of caregivers
Risk factors
Adapting the model for bereaved children
The process of empowerment

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Section 6 - Planning your bereavement support program
Bereavement support groups - planning your program
Preamble to sample groups
Sample programs
Support group program for small children
Sample support group - death of a sibling

Section 7 - Further sample support groups, including when family members are dying
Groups for children whose parents have died
Groups for older teens
Structure of sessions for older teens
Support groups for children and young people whose family members are dying
What if a family member dies during the life of the group?
Concurrent groups for caregivers
Evaluation of children's bereavement support groups
Post group debriefing

Section 8 - Group resources
Rules, opening circles, closing circles, facilitative exercises for all ages
Rule breaks
Opening circles - engagement
Facilitative exercises for teenagers
Questionnaire for older teens aged 16-18 years
Developing a profile of the person who died
Sample scroll questions
Journalistic interviews
Music and grief
Alternative session on music and grief for younger children
Facilitative exercises for children 3-5
Facilitative exercises for children 6-14
Treasure hunts
Memorialising the person who has died - creating a headstone
Some other comforting memorials
Sensory stimulation for memory retrieval
Sessions that stimulate other senses
Sessions for special occasions
More sessions and exercises to honour parents
Fathers' Day celebrations
Sessions for Fathers' Day and Mothers' Day
Sessions about safety and private grief
Self esteem - feeling important and valued
Sessions about anger
Sessions focused on seasons
General bereavement sessions
Session about hurt
Headstones revisited
Some point to note about children's groups
and exercises you might choose
Closing circles
Closing circle exercises
Closing circles of great significance
Song for Billie
Parallel process
Questions and answers

Section 9 - Reading resources and services
Reading and other resources for bereaved children and their caregivers
Annotated book list for children about death, grief and related issues
Children's and family services resource list
Feedback summary



Central Coast Websites
Bereavement Care Centre Home Page A Friend's Place - Click Here to go to www.childhoodgrief.org.au website