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GC 520

Assessment and Intervention Strategies for Bereaved Children

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course information

This course provides the student already familiar with grief theory and children, a storehouse of hands-on assessment and creative intervention methodologies aimed at helping children who are experiencing loss and grief.  Through a description and comprehensive presentation of a variety of strategies that identify and assess where children are in the grieving process, the student will develop skill in how and when to apply interventions at various developmental stages in a child=s growth. The student is provided with the theory behind an intervention, the rationale for the intervention, and the grief task it addresses.  Full instructions are provided for the effective practice and application of the intervention.  Strategies are presented for individual counseling settings, family sessions and peer support groups.

The interventions explained include play therapy, art therapy, story telling and the use of children=s commemorations.  Utilizing research from the Dougy Center for Grieving Children, the course also includes a review and description of essential attitudes and communication skills care givers should practice when dealing with the grieving child.  Upon successful completion of this course, students are awarded 30 contact hours of continuing education credits by the American Academy of Grief Counseling.  Course Code: GC 520

This course is particularly designed for those who are already or were recently certified by the American Academy of Grief Counseling, and are seeking continuing education to meet re-certification requirements.

Instructor/Course Author:

Rosemary A. Castelli, Ed.D., MA, BA, SMC-C,GC-C 
Certified Funeral Celebrant
Certified Grief Counselor  

Link to resume                    

TIME FRAME: You are allotted two years from the date of enrollment, to complete this course. There are no set time-frames, other than the two year allotted time. If you do not complete the course within the two-year time-frame, you will be removed from the course and an "incomplete" will be recorded for you in our records. Also, if you would like to complete the course after this two-year expiration time, you would need to register and pay the course tuition fee again.

Textbooks: There are two (2) required books for this course:

Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children.  Liana Lowenstein.  Toronto: Champion Press, 2006 (190 pages).  ISBN: 978-0-9685199-2-9 


Thirty Five Ways to Help a Grieving Child.  Portland, OR: The Dougy Center for Grieving Children, 2004 (43 pages).  ISBN: 1-890534-03-x

AIHCP Online Bookstore: AIHCP provides an online bookstore stocked with all of the required textbooks, and/or materials required for its CE courses. To purchase this book online, click the access store link, go to the table of categories, right upper hand corner, and click on Grief Counseling. Access AIHCP Store: click here

BOARD APPROVALS: The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. is a licensed Continuing Education Provider in the State of California, Board of Registered Nursing, Provider # CEP 15595. Access information

Online Classroom Resouces and Tools

* Message Boards: each specialty program has an area to "post" on the message board. Students may post messages at anytime. Posting allows students to converse with those in the same specialty practice and to discuss issues/course content etc. Instructions for posting are provided in the online classrooms.

* Chat Rooms: each specialty has it's own unique "chat room." Inside of the classroom there is a schedule for "chat time" with students in your specific specialty practice. Participating in "chats" is voluntary. The chat sessions are used as means for students to come together and discuss course content or anything related to the courses and/or certification specialty.

* Examination Access: there is link to take you right to the online examination program where you can print out your examination and work with it. All examinations are formatted as "open book" tests. When you are ready, you can access the exam program at anytime and click in your responses to the questions. Full information is provided in the online classrooms.

* Student Resource Center: there is a link for access to a web page "Student Resource Center." The Resource Center provides for easy access to all of our policies/procedures and additional information regarding applying for certification. We also have many links to many outside reference sites, such as online libraries that you may freely access.

* Online Evaluation: there is a link in the classroom where you may access the course evaluation. All students completing a course, must, without exception, complete the course evaluation.

* Faculty Access Information: you will have access to your instructor's online resume/biography, as well as your instructor's specific contact information.

* Additional Learning Materials: some faculty have prepared additional "readings" and /or brief lecture notes to enhance your experience. All of these are available in the online classrooms.



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Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Describe and apply the major strategies necessary for the effective grief counseling of a grieving child.
  • Identify and practice the essential guidelines that grief practitioners must apply in order to be effective.
  • Identify the child's bereavement needs.
  • Develop and conduct a comprehensive assessment procedure for the bereaved child.
  • Identify and implement the elements of an effective treatment plan.
  • Review and differentiate among the concepts of grief, bereavement, mourning, disenfranchised grief, trauma, and traumatic bereavement.
  • Identify children's bereavement responses at different developmental stages.
  • Identify the factors that may cause complicated grief in children.
  • Recognize the grief-focused goals that must be addressed in a thorough treatment plan for children.
  • Define "closure" in the grief treatment process.
  • Identify the elements of care giver interviews conducted prior to working with the grieving child.
  • Distinguish between children's grief and adult grief.
  • Identify and apply interventions designed to engage the grieving child.
  • Identify and apply interventions that help the child express feelings, thoughts and behaviors.
  • Identify and apply interventions that help the child deal with the tension associated with grief.
  • Help the child identify the important people and safe places in their lives.
  • Practice activities that enable the child to understand bodily reactions to grief.
  • Identify activities that address "magical" thinking in children.
  • Identify and apply interventions which help the child understand the nature of death, its finality, and funeral rituals.
  • Plan grieving rituals for children.
  • Identify and apply interventions that enable children to process ambivalent feelings toward the deceased.
  • Recognize and apply techniques to say Goodbye.
  • Apply skills which enable the child to improve coping abilities.
  • Apply skills that help the child build self-esteem through the grieving process.
  • Recognize interventions especially useful for special issues, such as suicide, cancer, homicide, terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
  • Validate the victim-survivor role.
  • Apply creative interventions in group settings.
  • Practice effective group leadership.
  • Formulate an effective curriculum for use with groups and families.
  • Identify and apply family oriented interventions.
  • Apply skills that help families recognize new family roles and the need for healthy restructuring as the result of death.
  • Describe how school personnel can aid grieving children
  • Describe the critical attitudes and communication skills necessary for dealing with grieving children.

Course Content:

A brief abstract of content:

Interventions and Guidelines for Practitioners:

  • Brief theoretical overview of bereaved children.
  • Meeting strategies with the child's care givers.
  • Interventions that engage and assess bereaved children.
  • Interventions to process grief reactions.
  • Interventions to help children understand death.
  • Interventions to commemorate the deceased.
  • Interventions to facilitate coping and enhance self-esteem.
  • Interventions to address special issues.
  • Interventions for group grief counseling.
  • Interventions for family sessions
  • Developing the treatment plan
  • Tips for school personnel