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A 12-Year-Old Boy Experienced a Lifetime of Grief and Loss. His Therapist Helped Him Heal

Amanda Myer KVC Missouri KVC Niles Clinical Manager

Each year, KVC Health Systems hosts an annual Story Contest to celebrate children and families who found the connection and support to reach their full potential. This award-winning story was shared by Amanda Myer, LCSW, Clinical Manager at KVC Missouri. In this role, Amanda supports, encourages, and challenges the clinical team to work with youth clients in individual, family, group and expressive therapy settings. The KVC Missouri clinical team provides a well-rounded, whole-person approach to care for youth in the KVC Niles residential treatment program and those enrolled at Niles Prep, a K-12 therapeutic alternative school.

When I first joined the KVC Missouri team a year and a half ago, I was a school therapist. As part of my role, I met with Niles Prep students for talk group therapy four times a week in the classrooms.

For an entire month, our talk group therapy was dedicated to the topics of loss, grief and change. We learned about grief and loss and discussed ways to process these heavy, difficult feelings.

One student had experienced a great deal of loss in his short lifetime. He was just 12 years old but had already suffered the loss of his house in a fire, his parents’ divorce, having to give away beloved pets, being homeless, and much more.

Youth receiving compassionate mental and behavioral health services at KVC Missouri KVC Niles Kansas City

Youth at KVC Niles participating in an expressive group outdoors.

Group therapy was just the beginning of the conversation. This student would continue the discussion in individual therapy to process healing in his expressive way. I used non-direct play therapy with him, connecting sometimes through talking and sometimes through play.

Many months after wrapping up the loss unit, I walked into the classroom and saw this young student. I wasn’t even thinking about our past discussions on grief and loss when the student blurted out, “I’m over the loss of my dog.” A big smile came across my face and my heart warmed.

We celebrated his ability to let go and discussed ways to continue to honor that loss as it comes up in the future. I believe the concepts that made a difference for this student were connection and stability. He felt lost or forgotten through all the losses that kept stacking up in his life. But after months of working through his feelings together, he learned that his family members could meet his need for connection and help him get through difficult challenges.

I left that group knowing that the work of therapy and healing doesn’t just happen in a group or a couple individual sessions but continues even when we don’t see it. This student was allowed the time, space, and knowledge to practice the skill of working through grief.

Are you looking to make a positive, life-changing difference in the lives of children, teens and families? Join KVC Missouri! The need is great for adults to provide safe, loving homes to children who have experienced abuse, neglect, or other serious family challenges. You can learn more about becoming a Missouri foster parent and sign up for the free training class. Or learn about donating funds or items to the children we serve. Or, like Amanda, you can consider working at KVC Missouri by exploring KVC careers. You can also explore our child and family services here. Join us in creating a world in which every person is safe and connected to a strong family and a healthy community.


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