Teen grief curriculumTEEN GRIEF GROUPS AN EIGHT-WEEK CURRICULUM COMPILED AND INTRODUCED BY SCOTT JOHNSON, MA
Scott Johnson, MA
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank all who made this possible
The many authors of the activities The Hospice of Grossmont Hospital (Jill Fitzgerald and Kathi Olsenand, in particular, Kay Cogswell, my supervisor, who gave mepermission and support to develop the Child and AdolescentBereavement Program) The Jenna Druck Foundation, Ken Druck, Julie Allen, DeniseHankins and Joelle James who supported me in this project The Hope Bereavement Center of the Hospice of the North Coastfor their generous support in the continuation of the work withgrieving students The schools and counselors who allowed me to learn while I helped them with their groups Most importantly, I want to thank the grievers-children, adolescents and adults- who taught me what I know about grief.Lastly, a special acknowledgement should go to the Jenna DruckFoundation for the copying and distribution of the initial edition of this manual.2000 -20 Scott Johnson, MA.
All Rights Reserved.Any part of this manual may be copied and distributed with two caveats: 1.No part of it is sold.
2.Original sources/creators of the activities or handouts are acknowledged.For more information, contact me at:
TABLE OF CONTENTSINTRODUCTION
NEED AND EXPECTATIONS FOR A TEEN GRIEF GROUP
ROLE OF GROUP FACILITATOR
SETTING UP THE GROUP
GROUP CURRICULUM SECTION I: TEEN ACTIVITIES SECTION 2: HANDOUTS FOR TEENS SECTION 3: HANDOUTS FOR COUNSELORS AND PARENTS INTRODUCTIONThis curriculum is presented as a work manual for the counselor facilitating adolescent grief groups in a school setting.
It is a compilation of activities and handouts that are meant to be used, copied, added to or discarded according to the preferences of the user.
Most simply it is a sample eight-week teen grief group with suggestions for organization of each group meeting.
There are introductory sections on setting up and running a group followed by the eight-week curriculum completed by the appendices of activities and handouts.
NEED AND EXPECTATIONS FOR A TEEN GRIEF GROUP The need for a teen grief group is not always apparent.
It is my experience that for about every thousand students at a school 50 of them are actively grieving a loss by death.
About one half of those students will be known to school personnel once a group has been up and running for about a semester.
About ten to fifteen of those students will attend a robust group.
Therefore, although a group will be helpful to some students,
it will not be the answer to all.
In addition, some students will be benefited in a dramatic way by such a group the benefit to others may not be so apparent.
Their classroom conduct and performance may not improve for several semesters
These students, after all, have gone through major life events at a crucial time in their development.
Anyone who is grieving intensely is focusing their learning on understanding questions like how the world can be put together to allow for whatever has happened and what are these feelings that have torn this world apart?
ROLE OF GROUP FACILITATOR I understand the role of facilitator to be the provider of a safe place for the grief work to occur.
It is based on the premise that each person has an innate understanding of the work he or she needs to do.
Students will become expert on their grief.
When they feel safe, the work that needs to be done is done.
All the group rules which I like to let the group generate are rooted in the idea of safety: confidentiality, not interrupting, listening, etc.
You, as facilitator, start and end the group.
You also help the group to regulate discussion keeping strong members from dominating and bringing out quieter ones with their permission.
I urge you to give members permission to not share before they are ready.These structural components are an important part of the members feeling safe.
SETTING UP THE GROUP This manual grew out of a suggestion that it might be more comfortable for counselors venturing into doing a teen grief group to have it be a structured, didactic, closed group of a set number of weeks.
The length of eight weeks was somewhat arbitrary.
We found at Grossmont Hospice that ten weeks was ideal.
We did not have to deal with school schedules.
The more successful groups have the support of teachers and administrative personnel.
One of the ways they retain this support is to work around their school exam schedules.
This leaves them with fewer weeks to do their groups in.
For example at Granite Hill High School in El Cajon, the groups are seven weeks.
Factors to consider before starting a group:The number of weeks for the group including start and end dates.
It is important to allow for time before the start of group to screen students and build relationships with them.
Weekly rotation schedule.Co-facilitator.Schedule meeting each week with co-facilitator or another counselor to debrief and plan Location of group: privacy, same room for all groups, table for activities.
Consider having a folder for each student to keep any activities in.
At the last group these memory books would be returned to the students.Recruiting faculty support to find appropriate students and in letting them out of class.Create a way to get students to group quickly.
Some schools have a system where students and teachers are notified the previous day and student reports directly to group.Become familiar with the clinical themes students are likely to bring to group and individual meetings.