WHEN Rebecca’s older brother died tragically, she struggled to find the words to express her devastating loss. Now, thanks to a peer group therapy programme offered by Treetops Hospice, Rebecca and forty-five other young children have learned how to express their grief in other ways.
Treetops non-talking therapy programme – the Mollitiam ProjX – provides six weeks of group therapy for young people, aged 11 to 17 years old, who have been significantly affected by the traumatic bereavement of a loved one.
Rebecca, 13, attended the programme earlier this year and explained the difference it has made to her life, she said:
“I thought that learning to accept my grief meant going through everything alone because barely anyone around me actually gets it and understands how you really feel.
“Everyone knows grief is hard, but not everyone understands how hard it actually is. For different people, it means different things, because not one situation is ever the same.
“But Treetops was there for me, ready to hold my hand every step of the way. They gave us a space where we could be with others who know what we are going through. People who don’t have to ask how or when or why, but who are there if you need it, can give you support, and be a friend.
“I always felt different being around people my age, then on the Mollitiam ProjX, I suddenly felt accepted. Together, it made the light at the end of the hard parts, even brighter.”
Rebecca’s family also recognised the difference the programme made, as her dad, Wayne explained:
“The project has shown Rebecca that she’s not alone. She could share common thoughts and feelings with others who have experienced the same tragedy and trauma. This is what makes the project so unique, and vital to young people coming to terms with their emotions.”
Each week, up to 12 young people experience different activities such as equine therapy, drumming therapy, art therapy, yoga therapy and complementary therapy. The sessions are designed to help them understand their grief and how to manage their feelings better. Parents and carers also receive advice and guidance on how to support their children.
Jules Kirk, Head of Children’s Services at Treetops said:
“Just like adults, young people who have lost someone important may find themselves struggling with a powerful range of emotions.
“Sometimes when you have been through a traumatic experience, it can be hard to articulate or process your feelings. Our non-talking therapy offers young people a way of accessing, expressing and processing their most difficult and unspeakable feelings.
“The young people have the opportunity to be with others who have had a similar life event, so they feel less alone or isolated. It has been fantastic to see them making new friendships within the group and having fun, despite their difficult circumstances. The fact they have all been bereaved brings them together.”
Funding for the programme came from the Hospice UK Masonic Charitable Foundation Hospice Bereavement Care Programme.
Additionally, Treetops Hospice is currently offering local primary schools specialist training and advice on how to support bereaved pupils. The training helps teachers and school support staff to better understand how children comprehend death, how to recognise common reactions to a bereavement, and how to support children when a loved one dies.
For more information about bereavement support for children or adults, head to the Treetops website: www.treetops.org.uk/nontalkingtherapy. Alternatively, contact the Treetops Counselling and Emotional Support team on 0115 949 6944 – email@example.com.