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Therapy for Grief

What ages does the Center for CBT treat for grief?

Kids and Teens

What is grief?

  • Grief is commonly known as the emotional experience one goes through after losing someone or something close to them. There is no “correct” way to grieve; grief can look different depending on someone’s age and circumstances. Grieving is a very normal, difficult process and can occur whether your child experienced a direct loss, indirect loss, or traumatic loss. 

How do I know if my child needs professional help after experiencing a loss? 

It is important to recognize that grief is a normal process, but when the grieving process becomes difficult to manage, grief counseling can be beneficial. Receiving support for grief can occur at any point in time, whether it is shortly after the loss, a few months after the loss, or years thereafter. Some key signs that your child may benefit from additional support surrounding grief may be:

  • Your child is experiencing increased moodiness, tantrums, crying out of the blue, or irritability.

  • Your child is experiencing symptoms from the loss lasting longer than 6 months.

  • Your child is verbalizing that they want to be with the person or thing that was lost, or that they wish they were also dead.

  • Your child is expressing beliefs that the world is generally unsafe.

  • Your child no longer enjoys activities they previously enjoyed.

  • Your child has difficulty sleeping, is experiencing changes in appetite, and/or has difficulty concentrating.

  • Your child has had a persistent regression to earlier behaviors (e.g., bed wetting, clinging to caregivers).


What is the most effective psychological treatment for grief? 


  • The two grief treatments used at the Center for CBT are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT).   These treatments have been shown by clinical trials to be effective treatments for children and teens who are grieving.  

    •  CBT for grief involves learning about the stages of grief/common responses to grief, learning about associated behaviors/thoughts/emotions related to grief, and then teaching the youth strategies to improve coping. 

    •  TF-CBT is a specific form of CBT that is utilized for individuals who experienced a traumatic loss. TF-CBT focuses on reducing intrusive symptoms (memories, flashbacks, nightmares), physiological arousal, avoidance behaviors, and negative beliefs and emotions that result from the traumatic loss.

    •  Both CBT and TF-CBT are generally delivered in about 16 sessions.  However, at the Center for CBT, we prioritize individualizing treatment goals and length based on the child’s current grieving process and goals. 

  • Of note, treatment for grief can be effective at any point in time (whether directly after the loss, after significant time has gone by, or anything in between).    

  • Treatment outcomes include:

    • Gaining mastery of new, healthy coping skills.

    • An increase in your child’s ability to discuss the loss.

    • An increase in your child’s ability to be around items, places, or situations that may remind them of the loss.

    • An improvement in your child’s mood and mental health.

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