loss of a Loved One
When a child dies, not
just any therapist will understand the complexities and challenges of grieving
family members. It is critical to find a mental health professional who
specializes in thanatology, or death issues.
Even the best mental
health professional cannot take away the stinging pain of a child's death. An
effective grief-trained therapist will walk with you, help you connect with
your feelings, and help you discover ways to cope with the overwhelming sense
If you are
not comfortable with the therapist, find another. Sometimes, clergy are helpful
in a counseling role, however, for most, it also helps to have a secular
vantage point in addition to their faith counseling.
Why is therapy necessary? Organizations like the
MISS Foundation are here to provide a support network for you and your family.
However, we are not a therapy-oriented group.
Many people seek
counseling and therapy to help them balance their ongoing lives with the chaos
of emotions after a child has died. Combining therapy with support groups,
either online or in person, are very effective techniques to help your family.
Therapy can also address past events that negatively affect your daily
functioning and further add to the trauma of your child's death.
Therapy should be a safe place in which to talk about your issues and
generate some useful ideas in dealing with the immense sorrow and trauma you
face after your child's death but it can also help to heal old wounds, likely
to resurface during times of crisis.
* You have every right to expect
your therapist to display respect for you and to convey this respect by keeping
appointments as scheduled, by contacting you if scheduling changes are
necessary, and by giving her/his complete attention to you during therapy
* At any point during therapy, you are encouraged to ask
questions regarding your therapist's qualifications, training, experience,
specialization areas and limitations, and personal values. You will receive
thoughtful and respectful answers.
* Since your needs are primary to
your treatment, you are encouraged to negotiate therapeutic goals, and
renegotiate them whenever you wish. You are further encouraged to ask questions
regarding the therapy process, specific treatment methods, therapy fees,
methods of payment, estimated length of treatment, office policy and practices,
* You may refuse any intervention or treatment strategy
suggested by your therapist and you may refuse to answer any questions.
* Within the limits of published ethical standards and the law,
information you reveal to your therapist will be maintained as confidential and
will not be communicated to another person or agency without your written
permission. The rare legal limits to confidentiality will be clearly described
at your intake session, and you may discuss any aspect of your treatment with
others, including consulting with another therapist.
* Your therapist
adheres to the American Psychological Association and your State Board of
Psychology Ethical Standards for Psychologists. If you have a doubt or
grievance regarding your therapist's conduct, you may solicit assistance from
these organizations. Under no circumstances are "dual relationships" permitted
between therapist and patient, especially including business, social, romantic,
or sexual contact of any kind.
* You can expect to meet with an individual who has been through
many years of academic and professional training. You can and should expect
your therapist to listen, truly listen.
An effective therapist will ask
you some questions about your background and life experiences as well as
personal beliefs, mores, and values.
Most sessions are once per week
for about 50 minutes. Due to the traumatic nature of child death, the visits
may be more frequent depending on familial and community support available to
you. Therapists styles will vary from person to person.
* It is never
too late to seek therapy. Whether it is a child's death that occurred 10 or 30
years ago, or some other very traumatic event, it is never too late to seek
help. Old wounds open easily and at times, therapy is the only way to help
yourself deal with those wounds. Pain from the past can interfere with
decisions, patterns of behavior, self-esteem, and many other aspects of your
life. Please seek help.
* Bereaved children should see a good therapist
at least three times. It is very difficult to understand the way children
grieve. Often, they are overlooked in the grief journey. While it may seem that
they are doing "okay" and they may not be expressing strong emotions, we
recommend at least three therapy sessions to assess a child's true emotional
and mental state after such a traumatic event. Often, family members are not
trained to recognized children's grief responses. It is very important that
children have a safe place to share and discuss their feelings. Take care of
their grief issues now so that they can grow up to be emotionally healthy
adults. The MISS Foundation