At the beginning of each of our groups we ask the children to start with saying their name, the name of the person who died and how they died. Whether this is the child’s first night attending group or if they have been attending for over a year, each time they will begin group the same. But why?
This opening circle reinstates the importance of telling their story.
The WARM Place recently hosted a Trauma Support Services of North Texas training seminar with guest speaker Dr. E.K. Rynearson. In his presentation, Dr. Rynearson reinforced the importance of providing a safe a confidential space for grieving children to tell and retell their stories. By externalizing their stories, children are often able to place their stories out in the open, suspended in between the teller and the listener, where they can be changed, modified, added to or subtracted from, instead of remaining in a “fixated” state. It is through the telling and retelling of their stories that children are able to reduce their distress from their loss and reconnect with the memories of their loved ones. At The WARM Place, we provide a multitude of ways for children to tell their stories, whether through talking and sharing, drawing, painting, journaling, puppets, sand trays and/or play. Storytelling helps reinstate the children as the experts in their own lives and provides meaning, strength and resiliency that will help them problem solve as they continue to author the unfolding story of their lives.
-Teresa Bartnicki, WARM Place Counselor