Monday, June 24, 2019

Using Movies in A Grief Support Group Setting

Image by Brett Hondow from Pixabay
Everything I learned 
I learned from the movies.
~ Audrey Hepburn

A  colleague writes: I am a hospice bereavement counselor in the Great Plains region of the US. On the web, I ran across your blog post, Using Movies to Move through Grief. It is a great article and very helpful. I am considering showing some of the movies you suggested at our grief support group. In your work as a grief counselor, have you used movies in a support group setting? If so, how did it go? Are there any movies in particular that would work well for a group format? I would appreciate any insights you may have. 

My response: Thank you for your kind words about my article. As it happens, I've not used movies in a support group setting myself, but I certainly think it is fine for you to do so if you are so inclined.

This is just my personal preference, but I like instead to tailor whatever film suggestion (or book or article, for that matter) to what I perceive to be the individual's needs, based on what I've come to know about the person.

My experience with open grief support groups (as opposed to closed ones that certainly are more amenable to a workshop sort of format) is that the members usually come to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with one another. They always have so much to say that I rarely if ever want to take up their time with something I've pre-planned. I much prefer to take a "here is something I saw that made me think of you; you may want to check it out" approach, and leave it up to the individual to follow through.

Using just a clip from a video or two is a very effective and time-limited technique, but I just don't have the technical savvy (or connection with an audiovisual department!) to make my own DVD of film clips. I don't know if you've seen it, but on my website's Films~Videos page, I've listed a number of resources on this topic that you may find quite helpful and informative. And if you decide to incorporate videos into your support groups, I'd be very interested in hearing how it goes for you!

Afterword: Thanks so much for your time in replying to my message, and for sharing your knowledge. What you wrote made a lot of sense. It is true that people come to an open group wanting to talk about whatever they are experiencing at that time. My dilemma is that my support group numbers have been steadily dwindling to the point there are often only one or two people there.(There are a number of reasons for why this might be including being a somewhat small community of 50,000; there is another Hospice program in town in addition to some churches who are also offering grief groups; and a stoic, Scandinavian outlook that encourages a “stiff-upper lip” approach to coping with loss.) It gets to be a challenge sometimes to keep the conversation going, so the idea of watching a movie and discussing it after seemed like something to consider. In rethinking this idea, maybe what I will try sometime during our long Great Plains winter is doing a special session using a movie. That way the people will come knowing that the focus will be on the movie with a discussion following. Again thanks for sharing your time and knowledge. By the way, I love your website. It is saved under My Favorites.

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