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Therapy for Children's Grief
On the last track we discussed denial. Three important aspects of denial in children are how imagination leads to denial in children, death is overwhelming, and natural vs. non-productive denial. We also discussed techniques for coping with denial.
On this track we will discuss anger. Three important aspects of anger are
anger as a manifestation of grief, anger history, and identifying triggers. We
will also discuss two techniques for coping with anger. The case study
on this track involves a pre teen named Kendall who is grieving a personal loss as opposed to the death of a loved one. As you listen to this track,
evaluate the application of aspects regarding anger as they are related to
Kendall. Also, compare these applications to those regarding a client
who is grieving the death of someone close.
Aspect #1 - Anger as a Manifestation of Grief
When Kendall finally returned to the fifth grade, he was scarred badly and had not yet grown back all of his hair. Kendall began displaying anger and hostility toward other children and toward school faculty in ways that his father, Drew, described as tornadic or tornado like.
Drew stated, "The kid is like a tornado. It’s like he gathers strength at night and then strikes with the force of lightning. Kendall goes after the kids at school, his teachers, and even me. But worst of all, he gets mad at himself. He’ll call himself names and bang his head against the wall. I got a call from his school last Friday and they said Kendall broke a ruler over some kid’s head. Now he can’t return to school until his anger is under control. I know that his anger is somehow related to the accident, because he was always a sweet kid until this happened. But I don’t understand it."
Does it appear to you that Kendall’s grief has manifested itself in anger and hostile behavior? I stated to Drew, "Kendall may be grieving from the loss of his eye as well as his self-image. The emotions generated by his grief are powerful and confusing." I believed that Kendall may not have been aware of how to deal his grief.
I stated to Drew, "Kendall hasn’t learned how to identify, separate, and articulate his feelings. Therefore, he has trouble understanding why he feels insecure. As a result, Kendall feels overwhelmed and is responding in the only way he knows how." Do you agree that of all the emotions, anger may be one of the easiest with which to respond? Think of your Kendall. Could his anger be a manifestation of his grief? Later on this track we will discuss a technique for coping with anger, which led to Kendall facing his grief.
Aspect #2 - Anger History
Drew answered questions like "Did your parents suppress anger or did they express anger openly? Did your parents involve you in an unfair manner? What were you taught as a child about anger? How do you feel about how your parents dealt with anger? And can you think of better ways to deal with anger?" Do you agree that parents’ methods for coping with anger reflect themselves in children?
Aspect #3 - Identifying Triggers
I asked questions such as "Do you become angry because you look different since the surgery? Are you mad because you have to make new friends at school? Is it because you were held back a grade? Are you angry with the doctors who didn’t fix your eye?" After identifying Kendall’s triggers, I discussed these triggers with Kendall. This discussion succeeded in reducing the power of Kendall’s anger.
I also discussed Kendall’s triggers with Drew so that he could begin diffusing them at home. Think of your grieving client. If he or she is angry, could identifying triggers help reduce anger?
Technique: Coping with Anger
Kendall stated, "A lot of times, when I hear myself on tape, I sound kinda ridiculous." Do you agree that this method of having Kendall analyze his own anger could help him to better cope? Think of your Kendall. Is your grieving client’s anger a manifestation of grief? Could coping with that anger help your client to face his or her grief?
On this track we have discussed anger. Three important aspects we have discussed are anger as a manifestation of grief, anger history, and identifying triggers.
On the next track we will discuss guilt. Three concepts regarding guilt
are guilt is common, unrealistic guilt, and the reassigning responsibility
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