Childhood Grief Due to the Loss of a Loved One

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Children who suffer from grief or trauma related to the loss of a loved person experience various ways in which they manifest their pain. While some may experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), others may be resilient to the pain or may develop an avoidance behavior, sidestepping over everything that reminds them of the death of a loved one or the traumatic experience associated with such an event (Cohen & Manarino, 2004).
The treatments for the children who suffer from grief and trauma are varied. This report will focus on group therapy as a treatment for children who experience grief and trauma. One group treatment approach, developed by Layne, Pynoos et al. (2001) was conducted in a school setting, wherein Bosnian children aged 15-19 years old coped with the reminders of civil war experience through five treatment modules that included “traumatic experiences, reminders of trauma and loss, bereavement and the interplay of trauma and grief, posttrauma adversity, and developmental progression”) (Cohen & Manarino, 2004, p. 822). The results of this study indicated that children who receive a five treatment module achieved improved results in resolving the child traumatic grief compared to the ones who only received trauma-focused treatment modules (Cohen & Manarino, 2004).
Group treatment for coping with grief and traumatic events is found to be more effective for adolescents. Young children are still highly dependent on their parents or caregivers, and they need to be joined by an adult in the treatment process, because they feel safer and more comfortable (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), 2005).
Cohen and Manarino (2004) indicate that the group trauma and grief – focused interventions that are provided...

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...hould be aware of the child’s psychology, but also that he or she should understand the group dynamics, in order to form and develop groups that will deliver curative effects (Klein and Schermer, 2000).

Cohen, J.A. & Mannarino, A.P. (2004) Treatment of childhood traumatic grief. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Vol. 33, no. 4, pp. 819-831.
Cohen, J.A. (2008) Treating PTSD and related symptoms in children research highlights. PTSD Research Quarterly. Vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 1-8.
Cohen, J.A., Mannarino, A.P. & Deblinger, E. (2012) Trauma-focused CBT for children and adolescents: treatment applications. New York: The Guilford Press.
Klein, R.H. & Schermer, V.L. (2000) Group Psychotherapy for psychological trauma. New York: The Guilford Press.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (2005) The courage to remember. Los Angeles: NCTSN.
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