GROUP COUNSELOR FAQ
The audience feedback that we get (yes, we did actual anonymous audience surveys) has shown that nearly 100% of the time after screenings of the Secret Map of Surviving Loss, those in grief report that the film has “normalized” their grief and that they now know in a deep way that they are not alone. Furthermore, the film jump starts the conversations in group, more so than with poems, essays, etc., and helps speed the building of cohesion and trust among group members.
Maryann Manelski, who made the film, is pretty firm that the feature film is not for the first month to six weeks after loss which was supported by our audience feedback forms. After that, if a person is ready for group therapy, then showing the film is also fine. The film pulls no punches and does contain raw emotions as grief in the first year or so can be very raw. We often forget, having passed through the emotional crucible of the first year, how open the wound is and we lose our language to communicate with those in the thick of it. The film is bridge to that raw place as it contains the memory of those who have been there.
You can show the feature film all at once in your usual group or you can show one of the 6-10 minute chapters a week to stretch the material over an 8-week group. The film comes with a Discussion Guide (to which we give you online access to download) to help cut down on your facilitation prep time and is broken broadly down into the following subject areas:
- Initial Loss and Haunting Images
- Guilt and Powerlessness
- Secondary Losses
- Signs and Dreams
- Making Meaning
The Secret Maps Project also contains a half-hour film called Good Grieving: A Guide to Group Facilitation which is made for staff development. It also comes with a downloadable print guide (to which we give you online access) and covers the basics to help you get your internal discussion going:
- Setting up a Group (Open vs. Time Limited)
- Screening Participants
- Preparing and Picking Materials
- Structure and Ritual
- Ground Rules
- Facilitator Ego
- What to look for in a group over time
The Secret Maps Project DVD also includes a half-hour film called An Introduction to Group Grieving and Healing. We look at this as an “infomercial” for group grief counseling as it both explains what goes on in group and touts how helpful and healing it can be. We recommend that you have screenings of this film as a way to introduce yourself and your group offerings and to take questions. Sometimes it is important to create an initial environment in which the grievers have no anxiety that they will have to talk or share their feelings. This film can invite people through the door with that understanding.
If your organization does not have the DVD in house, you can still direct your clients to stream the film online in the privacy of their own homes. It’s not free to do so but it’s also not more than a cup of Starbucks. It’s available on many streaming sites (not Netflix or iTunes yet) but we recommend you to the address hosted directly on our website or on Vimeo, our favorite web host. Online viewers also get access to the 17 minute short, Men Navigating Grief and the 7 minute film, What is a Bereavement Group? Online streaming can be a really good vehicle for clients who have never been to group or in a counseling environment to get their feet wet and get over their hesitancy to try bereavement group, especially with the short films we added to this streaming version that explain what they can expect.
Contact us from your official hospice email address and we will set you up with a short window to stream and preview the films online for free.