The loss of a Loved One

Finding A Therapist

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 of loss.

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.

Client Rights:

* 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 sessions.

* 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, and diagnosis.

* 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 (c) 2003



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