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 in schools are mostly effective for reducing the childhood traumatic grief and the posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms for teenagers exposed to war related events and community violence. A study conducted by Pat-Horenczyk and Gelfopf (2007 in Cohen, 2008), confirmed the fact that school based group treatments deliver reduced posttraumatic stress disorder and related symptoms for children exposed to terrorist attacks. The authors recommend this therapy module as a public mental help approach for dealing with children in the countries exposed to war and terrorism (Pat-Horenczyk and Gelfopf, 2007 in Cohen, 2008).
The benefits of group therapy for the participants suffering from grief or a traumatic event include the normalization of emotions shared through direct interaction and face to face feedback NCTSN, 2005). Group interaction allows exposure to other members’ experiences, the opportunity to talk about the pain, to receive constructive feedback, peer support and mutual understanding (NCTSN, 2005).
Klein and Schermer (2000) note that in the case of children experiencing grief and traumatic events there are two categories that need to be treated differently:
(1) the acute interventional debriefing groups (wherein...