Longitudinal evaluation of a therapeutic groupwork intervention with suicide bereaved children

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Veale, Angela
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Taylor & Francis
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Empirical evidence indicates that parental suicide during childhood is a risk factor for mental health difficulties and even suicide, highlighting a need for efficacy-based interventions for suicide-bereaved children. This study presents a child-centred longitudinal evaluation of a group work intervention for suicide-bereaved children aged 8–12 years. Five children aged 8–12 years participated in the intervention. The Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) measured emotional and behavioural problems and social competence. A function assessment method was adapted to explore the impact of bereavement through suicide on children's functioning, while the study also used semi-structured interviews and a social network and strength of relationships method. The study found that four-fifths of children scored within the clinical range for internalising and externalising problems pre-intervention while social competency was within a normative range. Six months post-intervention, symptomatology had decreased substantially. Four years on, some participants had taken leadership roles in their schools on suicide-prevention initiatives. Children's qualitative reports highlighted that participation in group work enhanced connectedness, emotional expression, family communication processes, memory and sense-making, and processes associated with active coping in suicide-bereaved children. Reflecting on the methodology a small sample size and the lack of a control group were key limitations. However, it is a unique study in the Irish context. In conclusion, group work appears able to address isolation, stigma and communication challenges with suicide-bereaved children and highlights the contribution of peer support.
Children , Suicide , Suicide-bereaved , Intervention , Psychotherapy
Veale, A. (2014) Longitudinal evaluation of a therapeutic groupwork intervention with suicide bereaved children', Irish Journal of Psychology, 35(4), pp. 188-204. doi: 10.1080/03033910.2015.1058177
© 2014 Informa UK Limited. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Irish Journal of Psychology, 21 August 2015 available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/03033910.2015.1058177