Grieving children and young people find support through special group therapy

Categories: Care.

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:

“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 you 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 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 child.

“Just like adults, young people who have lost someone important may find themselves struggling with a powerful range of emotions”, said Jules Kirk, Head of Children’s Services at Treetops.

“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: . Alternatively contact the Treetops Counselling and Emotional Support team on 0115 949 6944 –


About Treetops Hospice

Treetops Hospice, the leading end-of-life care charity in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions, and their families.

The charity provides support from diagnosis onwards for patients with conditions such as cancer, motor neurone disease and heart and respiratory conditions.

Founded in 1983, Treetops supports thousands of local people – and their families – through the most difficult time of their lives. Last year, our team of over 40 Hospice at Home nurses provided over 23,800 hours of care to terminally-ill patients, working day and night to give much-needed support.

We have a team of bereavement counsellors who provide over 4,000 counselling sessions – over 900 of them to children and young people. Wellbeing team members provide valuable information and support to those who need it, while our experts in end-of life care and bereavement support dedicate many hours to training NHS staff about death and dying

Treetops are lucky to have over 450 amazing volunteers who help to keep the hospice running smoothly.

It costs £4.2m each year to run the hospice. A counselling session for a bereaved child costs £34. An overnight Hospice at Home nursing shift for a patient at the end of life costs £108.

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need and welcomes donations to ensure the future of the hospice and its services:

Treetops Hospice, Derby Road, Risley, Derbyshire, DE72 3SS

0115 949 1264 |

Registered Charity Number 519540


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