Dr. Natalie L. Winters  

    Licensed Psychologist                                    Motivational Speaker



When a death occurs in a family teenagers are often the overlooked, unsung grievers. One reason is the general attitude teens project-being cool: slumped shoulders, impatience with adults, responses of "I'm fine, nothing, OK. Don't be fooled. Behind the facade is a deeply feeling person not quite able to express what they are experiencing.

In the summer of 2015 I was invited to participate in a retreat for adolescents, thirteen through twenty, who had lost a significant person in their lives. My role was to work with a group of nine teens for a  period of three hours each morning for four days using psychodrama to help them fully experience their grief and move forward.

On day four, during the closure session  the heartfelt sharing these young people were able to do as to what the retreat had meant to them was extremely moving. It served to underscore the significance of psychodrama and the retreat as a whole. Bonds were formed, friendships made, healing took place.

The focus of the retreat was on the needs of teens related to bereavement and loss through education, counseling and play. The purpose was to help each participant complete what was unfinished in their lives relative to the person who had died so that they could continue on their path to adulthood free of things unsaid, feelings unexpressed and, ultimately,  experience a sense of completion. This meant building a trusting environment where each teen was supported and encouraged to feel like part of a team where they were heard and understood. In such an environment enactment of their issues allowed each participant the unique opportunity to set up a significant scene in order to speak with a representation of the deceased. The action approach allows for high levels of expression  and healing.

Research shows us that grief left unresolved in the young interferes in the formation of healthy adult relationships and good parenting.

The structure of a four day retreat involves a half hour morning fun-related time to establish cohesion followed by three hours of psychodrama, an action method of therapy and education.
Lunch break comes at noon followed by a two hour recreational activity. The day ends with a group gathering to review the events of the day and bring closure. Each participant goes back to their own home.
The day begins at 9:00 and ends at 4:00 with lunch at noon.

Since this is a non-profit project, there needs to be a way of getting funds to pay staff a reasonable salary and pay for lunches,  find a free venue to meet daily and choose and plan daily afternoon activities.
Both staff, two to three skilled, experienced adults plus four volunteers to assist in group meeting and afternoon activities.
are required.
Follow-up phone calls and emails are  part of this program. And a one day gathering mid-year is possible.
My  project is to run just such a group in the triangle area. I have connected with several people who are able to serve as board members. Hopefully, this project will materialize by next summer.

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