Play Therapy and Photo-Elicitation: A Narrative Examination of Children’s Grief

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Abstract

Children, like adults, experience grief after a significant loss. Unlike adults, however, most children have not developed the complex, expressive language skills to explain their emotions in relation to a loss. In this qualitative narrative study, children ages 6 to 9, who had lost a loved one 3 to 18 months before participation in the study, were interviewed utilizing photo-elicitation. Photo-elicitation facilitated the interview process allowing the children to share emotional experiences surrounding the loss through photographs they took to capture significant aspects of their relationship and the subsequent loss. Significant findings are presented in narrative form to capture the emotion, language, and perspective of the participants’ loss experience. Narratives were developed based on data collected from semistructured interviews and the children’s descriptions of the photos they took to symbolize the relationship and the loss. Implications for play therapists working with children experiencing grief, utilizing photography in the playroom with children, and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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