Date of Award:

2002

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Marcelo Diversi

Abstract

Every year in the United States, anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 youths under the age of 19 will experience the death of a parent (or both) or a sibling. The Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon, was established in 1983 to assist grieving children. Support groups are based on principles of nondirective play therapy. During the years 1996-2000, The Dougy Center administered questionnaires to a number of its clients. The results of one of these questionnaires, The Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D), showed that 48% of those receiving services were severely depressed at the time of entrance into the program with another 15% showing symptoms of mild-moderate depression. Depression is the most commonly studied outcome of grief and mourning among all age groups (children, adolescents, and adults). Two additional questionnaires measured basic symptomatology at the time of intake into the program. The Child Intake Form showed that those ages 3-12 generally had difficulty being around others since the death and wanted to spend more time alone. The Teen Intake Form showed that those ages 13-18 relied upon friends for support following the death; furthermore, normal patterns of eating, sleeping, and attending school have been disrupted since the death. The only questionnaire to be administered after clients had received services was the Family Self-Evaluation (FSE). Children and teens responded to this questionnaire, reporting that since attending groups at The Dougy Center they are feeling better. Many respondents reported that the most helpful aspect of the support groups came from knowing that others were experiencing similar emotions and transitions. Limitations in the reported findings came from too small of a sample size, convenience sampling procedures, administration of an age-inappropriate instrument, and a lack of pretesting and posttesting procedures.

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