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Study: Treating post-traumatic stress first helps children overcome grief
Date:4/8/2008

r grief without addressing their PTSD got them thinking about their loss, McClatchey said, but we didnt teach them the coping mechanisms to deal with the PTSD symptoms that were stirred up.

Few studies have examined the effectiveness of camp-based interventions and most studies on overcoming grief have focused on children who have lost family members to sudden death resulting from violence or accidents. Until now, researchers have overlooked the post-traumatic stress and grief of children whose parents died expectedly after a long illness. The new study finds that both groups can benefit from PTSD treatment followed by grief counseling.

Vonk said the PTSD treatment consisted of exposure therapy, in which the children talk about their loss repeatedly until their fear diminished, and cognitive restructuring, in which children learn to modify negative thoughts, such as feelings of guilt, about their loss. The grief treatment portion included cognitive restructuring as well as lessons on coping skills.

The camp allows kids to process their grief and go on with their lives, Vonk said. They can attend to everyday activities in a way that they werent able to before and can concentrate better in school.

McClatchey said the average cost per camper is about $250 for the three-day weekend, making it more cost effective than individual counseling, which costs an average of $100 per hour and requires multiple sessions to be effective. (Camp Magik is supported by donations so that children and their families never pay to attend.)

Another benefit of the camp setting is that it gives children around-the-clock access to counselors so that those who dont open up during group sessions can have their needs addressed individually. The researchers add that attending such camps with other children that have experienced a loss has benefits that individual therapy cant provide.

They see that other kids are having the same kinds of thou
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Contact: Sam Fahmy
sfahmy@uga.edu
706-542-5361
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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