Counseling Questions Children and mental health

Does my child require counseling after the death of her grandmother?

My mother recently passed away after a lot of suffering. My daughter who is 6 years old saw her suffer throughout. I am worried about the effect that this may have on her. Does she need counseling?

11 Answers

I would think the parents would be able to talk to him/her about loss and death. If the child isn't preoccupied and/or having bad dreams and has an outlet to talk, they should be ok. The parent might need a referral to a grief support group.
Offering your daughter the opportunity to meet with a licensed professional counselor and process the loss of her grandmother is a wise decision. Children of your daughter's age process thoughts in a concrete manner which can make it difficult for them to understand the abstract concept and finality of death. It may be helpful to find a provider certified in trauma-focused therapy who will incorporate play therapy modalities such as sand, art, music, and games into the counseling sessions. Best regards to you and your family.
I think a lot of this depends on how close she was with your mom and how much she sees you grieving. A good book could be used to just read with her about death and allow her to ask many questions. If you notice changes in sleeping, eating, or behavioral patterns, a therapist may be needed, yes.
If you feel that she is having negative side effects from the death, then you could pursue counseling for her. Due to the younger age, you cannot say for sure how she is processing the death.

The death of a family member often triggers a number of feelings, such as sadness, anxiety, and fears among others. Therapy can certainly help ameliorate feelings associated with the grieving process. Most children struggle to voice their feelings in general; thus, just imagine how difficult it would be for your child to express her thoughts and feelings regarding the loss of a loved one. I recommend counseling as through it your daughter will learn to identify and process feelings related to the lost as well as she will have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment coping strategies that would help her overcome painful life experiences.


It is good that you are concerned about your daughter. Does she need counseling depends on many factors. Has her behavior changed since the passing of your mother? Did you discuss your mother's situation with your daughter? Is your Daughter asking you questions that you can't answer? Are you okay with discussing the situation with her? Children are usually pretty good when parents present the situation in a form that they can understand. Remember, your Daughter is only six and does not yet have the capacity to understand very complex situations. If she is acting out or her behavior has changed in some way that you can not handle, you might seek professional help. Start by helping her understand the situation. If that doesn't work, ask for professional help.
When we encounter emotional trauma, it's more difficult to determine the necessity to get professional counseling than when we have a physical injury or illness. Some things to consider when deciding about the need to seek professional counseling are: 1) Is there a sense of being "overwhelmed?" When we can't break down our emotions and thoughts, we might need someone to help us work through each element one at a time. 2) Have I reached a point where I feel that I'm stuck and unable to return to normal thoughts and feelings? This is especially true if you find yourself pre-occupied or obsessed with certain thoughts or feelings. A professional may be able to help you work through that obsession and/or find solutions you haven't considered. 3) Especially with children, ask, "Is their behavior an "acting out" of some unresolved issues or emotions? Often, unresolved conflicts can appear in seemingly unrelated maladaptive behavior. A professional can help to resolve the issue and stop the behavior. Seeking professional help for even one session may help you clarify what the issues are and open up possibilities you hadn't considered. 
It is hard to know. Does your daughter have questions about her grandmother's suffering and passing away? Do you feel comfortable having these discussions with her? It never hurts to take her to a therapist that specializes in grief and loss. Maybe the two of you can go together and have these conversations, as everyone handles grief and loss differently.

Great question. I think that the simple answer is that counseling could certainly assist your daughter with the grieving process. (For what it's worth, it could also assist you!) The other thing that a good counselor/therapist can do is further evaluate your daughter to determine if the distress she may be currently experiencing is the expected grief-response or if something else might be going on. Given that it sounds like your mother's passing was quite difficult, your daughter may have found aspects of it to be somewhat traumatic. A competent counselor/therapist would be able to help her in either event.

I'm very sorry for your loss and I'm hopeful that you are also taking good care of yourself at this time as well. In addition to counseling, this is another gift that you can give your daughter.

Take care!

Adam Hamilton
Monitor your child's behavior and assess for anything outside of baseline behavior. Counseling may be helpful.
Hi there. That is a very good question. I would first seek a counselor for yourself, not just for your loss but to learn how to parent your 6 year old through this time. Learning the tools to answer questions, have conversation, and discuss the feelings are so important as a parent to guide their child through this challenging time. Therapists for children are so important and having a therapist for your child and yourself may also be a good idea.