Brief Review and Analysis
At an early stage, children are aware of death even though they have little understanding of it. Death has become a popular theme in television and cartoon networks. For instance, with the increasing cases of COVID-19 infection, associated deaths are reported on local television channels daily. Such broadcast paints an imaginary picture of death to children, which could be different when they experience it directly. The first-hand death experience of a loved one, especially a parent, is likely to confuse a child. However, a parent or guardian is responsible for ensuring their safety since children cannot be protected against the pain of loss. Even though a child who has lost a loved one should be allowed and encouraged to express their feelings, they should not go to the extent of harming themselves (Marquis, 2018). Caregivers should support children at such grieving moments to build coping skills to impact their future life positively. In such regard, this paper section will analyze my experiences based on an in-group psychotherapy session involving children with grief.
The group’s primary focus is grief and loss and how people can recover from them. Due to the differences in psychotherapy clients, the group has maintained its heterogeneity to enhance diversity. The rationale of my group is to ensure our clients can understand themselves better despite the circumstances for more informed and healthy choices. More often, children than adults do swing between grieving and carrying on with their everyday lives. I agree that telling a child that a person died might not get most of their attention, which might leave one wondering whether they understood the message or not. However, I assure you that children can take some time to process the news or lack ways to express their feelings. Age, developmental stage, family characteristics, personality, and past death experience play a role in understanding a child’s reaction (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). Even though they might assume the sad news at first, children are likely to revisit it severally. Babies below six months I support do not have any understanding of death.
On the other hand, babies are likely to notice the absence of their primary caregiver. Such realization will lead to reactions, such as crying, sleeping and feeding difficulties, or worry. At ages between six and 28 months, children might not understand death and will be upset quickly when the caregiver is absent (Kopyc, 2020). They also respond similarly to those below six months in addition to searching for the missing person. Children between two and five years can engage in talks about death but do not understand the process. They are swayed by magical thinking, continuously ask similar questions, and misbehave. At age seven, death’s irreversible reality is demonstrated among children even though they are fascinated about the aftermath and may present withdrawals, anger, and regressive behaviors. Adolescents showcase a proper understanding of death and seem to be worrying about changes in their routine chores. Therefore, I appreciate that death has different impacts on children.
I support that children’s way of grieving is different from that of adults. A child can demonstrate unpredictable behaviors upon losing a loved one, such as crying for a minute before playing. Such inconsistency in behavioral change makes it challenging to address children’s grief. In my view, an individual might assume that the child has come to terms with death by being silent. The continuously changing mood of bereaved children cannot indicate not being sad or completing grief. However, switching from mourning to playing could be a defensive tactic to prevent them from being overwhelmed with the situation (Rijn, 2014). Although feeling angry, depressed, anxious, or guilty at the dead can be normalized, I suppose that a child’s interpretation can be entirely different. There is also an increased likelihood of children regressing and developing habits like slipping back to baby talk or start wetting their bed (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). Such consideration shows the need for support by a parent or guardian to enable children to adapt to the loss.
Role of Parents and Family
I believe a parent or guardian needs to encourage the grieving child to express their feelings since it promotes their emotional wellbeing. Remaining quiet after a fatal incident is considered mentally unhealthy because it increases vulnerability to depression, among other psychological disorders. When children silence their grief feelings, they should engage them in conversations that provoke them to talk or tell stories. However, since it is hard to predict how each child will respond to the loss burden, I emphasize appropriate developing concepts in introducing the subject. Simultaneously, informing children about their parted loved ones, the content being on-point to avoid other misinterpretations. For example, euphemisms like ‘your mum went to sleep’ can be scary and misleading to children (Holmes, 2018). The child might fear going to bed due to such indirect communication of a loved one’s death. Consequently, the person shall have interfered with the child’s ability to develop the healthy coping skills required at such critical moments.
The person delivering the death news to the child should not give too much information to overwhelm their emotions. I agree that responding to the child’s question about grief is better than telling them so much. Most children do not recognize death as a permanent loss because they are convinced that the dead will resurrect or be back to life one day. For example, children have strong emotional bonds with their loved ones that the concept of forever don does not apply to them. Even though older, school-going children are aware of death’s permanency; they still have many questions about the departed loved one. In such regard, I consider listening to each child’s story about a loved one’s death helps relieve the pain. The physical presence of a therapist or family member also plays a critical role in supporting bereaved children (Kopyc, 2020). In my view, the child should be the one to determine whether or not he or she wants to attend the burial of their loved ones. However, children who might opt to attend burial ceremonies should be psychologically prepared, expecting to see some mourners cry.
Strengths, Skills, and Strategies
The group has shown various methods of handling children in grief and loss achieved individually or with support from parents and family. If children seem to be slow in recovering from the loss, the parent or guardian should discuss the afterlife. Such discussions will restore the child’s hope of meeting or interacting with the deceased someday in the future (Capuzzi & Stauffer, 2018). Children can hold on to such thoughts to help them recover from agony by building resilience. However, a guardian or parent should never ignore their feelings in consoling with the child since they can be delayed adverse impacts. I support that parents or guardians should reassure the child that being sad or upset is alright and seasoned. The parent’s exposure can have more devastating to the child’s welfare because children imitate the elderly.
For faster pain recovery, I suggest that the parent or caregiver should engage the child in more routine activities since it becomes the basis of them adjusting to the loss. Children are often comfortable performing routine tasks because I am persuaded it make their lives normal. For example, a grandparent’s death leaves the child missing things they used to do and guessing whether her mother or father will be the next victim. Due to the death loss’s delicate nature, it routinely provides an opportunity to teach the child the best way to overcome the death adversities (Rijn, 2014). Even though it is proper to grieve, children should be encouraged to go on with life.
Counter interference is the transfer of expressions between the therapist’s personality to the client. Luckily my experience with the child was that of support and helpfulness, and that was the foundation of this relationship with the child. It formed a template of our relationship throughout the sessions (Rijn, 2014). I, therefore, had to dig into the origin of this perception to understand what informed this feeling of security. With time, I included a holistic and inclusive view that I used my reaction in an empathetic and diagnostic way to understand this child and the relationship we had formed. Additionally, variations in my client’s experience allowed the occurrence of the past to the present. The sharing of the patient’s experience and its recurrence were vital in psychotherapy.
My main task was to develop a feeling-proof surety with the client and collaborate in developing a consensual meaning of the relationship. Such understanding was complex since none of us would look at the relationship wholesomely. Therefore, I had to clarify my client’s reactions to enhance the relationship and work on their independence by sustaining their ability to face reality. Similarly, they had to hold onto the truth and express the views with interventions. Such a move interfered with the client’s understanding of himself from a varied point that eroded the client’s ability to view themselves healthily. My focus was ensuring the client connects fully with their past and has a sense of identity and continuity. Consequently, it was also essential for me to understand that my client’s reactions were not entirely transferential, and I was tasked with understanding the constructive and destructive ones.
While countertransference is viewed as the therapist’s resistance towards their clients, transference focuses on how clients view childhood objects and express their emotions, attitude, and feelings towards the therapist. To deal with transference, I had to be conscious of the feelings triggered in the child, who is my client (Maquis, 2018). Initially, I understood the process as not being cognitive and tried looking for cues in my client when I noticed a difference. For instance, if I saw a client coming into my room while sad, withdrawn, or unhappy, I emphasized awareness and reflection as I tuned into feelings. I had to stop the affective reaction to view the client more objectively. Furthermore, the identification of transference from the client was a significant milestone in my therapy session.
I was often more careful of the feelings and demeaning comments. Such a capacity made me gain client autonomy and foster therapeutic gains, ensuring that my client accepted the situation with time as I worked addressed them. Denying the possibility of transference from my client was most often based on their reactions, while not interpersonal qualities based on my reality in dealing with past development. With the evasion of fear, accountability, and independence from the client, I was slow yet progressive in ensuring they slowly but progressively gave up the attitude. Amongst the steps I employed included; identify the client’s affective state, establishing the essence of my client’s message, and finally deciding the most effective method I would engage in dealing with the client’s issues.
Therapy Session Outline
- Presentation of main ideas
- Main treatment modality
- Psychotherapy rationale
- Issues facing grieving children
- How to deal with the issues
- Strengths, weaknesses, skills, and challenges in dealing with the issue
My group psychotherapy session’s role was more engaging, allowing me to maintain helpful discussions among participants and effectively address and manage conflicts. I had to integrate a collaborative approach to understand better the participants’ situation (Yalom & Leszcz, 2005). For example, I had to demonstrate empathy among those who encountered grief. I engaged effective leadership styles supported by evidence-based psychotherapy to enable the members to appreciate and gain confidence in me. However, my objective for promoting in-group discussions was to guide clients in grief to get the necessary support for building resilience. Such coping skills will enable children who have lost their loved ones to feel safe and make meaningful life decisions.
Moreover, I ensured that I had no judgment of moral values among my group members, making them feel safe. As an active listener, I demonstrated compassion and active communication with my team since they had a remarkable contribution to my leadership style. Even though the sessions were extended due to the participants’ more questions, I felt obliged to continue because they depended on me for solutions.
Group discussions were a cornerstone of my coaching leadership style because they promoted and guided meaningful arguments. As a coach, I ensured that I gave my participants the best through their goals and challenges. Through collaboration, I established ground rules to address unethical conduct while maintaining order in the group discussions. Such an approach allowed for the development of constructive feedback throughout the session. Therefore, I recommended that coaching leadership be adopted across all group psychotherapy sessions because of its benefits that outweigh the potential risks.
Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2021). Foundations of couples, marriage, and family counseling. John Wiley & Sons.
Holmes, E. (2018). Psychological assessment. Psychotherapy with Severely Deprived Children, 67-74. Web.
Kopyc, S. (2020). Writing measurable outcomes in psychotherapy. Oxford University Press.
Marquis, A. (2018). Assessment in integral psychotherapy. Integral Psychotherapy, 109-130. Web.
Rijn, B. V. (2014). Assessment and case formulation in counselling and psychotherapy. SAGE.
Yalom, I. D., & Leszcz, M. (2005). Theory and practice of group psychotherapy. Taylor & Francis US.