Promoting Resilience in Bereaved Children and Parents

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The Family Bereavement Program (FBP) is a 12-session group program for parentally bereaved children and their caregivers that was developed to strengthen parent level (e.g., positive parenting, parent self-care) and child level (e.g. positive coping) factors that have been found to be associated with better outcomes for bereaved children. A randomized trial of the program demonstrated remarkable effects to improve outcomes, including on complicated grief, depression and suicide risk for both bereaved children and their parents up to 15 years later. Implications for translating the program into a community-based service and how tools from the program might help parents during the coronavirus pandemic will be discussed.

Learning objectives:

  1. List the parent level and child level resilience resources that were targeted by FBP
  2. Describe the long-term problem outcomes that were prevented by FBP
  3. Identify ways to translate the program from a scientifically evaluated prototype into a feasible and practical community service


Irwin Sandler is a Regents’ Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at Arizona State University. Over the past forty years he has been interested in understanding how some children adapt well following exposure to serious stressful events such as the death of their parent. Most recently he has been particularly interested in understanding how bereaved parents can promote resilience of their children. He and his colleagues developed the Family Bereavement Program and the Resilient Parenting for Bereaved Family Program to promote resilience of children who are bereaved due to the death of a parent. His research has been extensively published in over 200 scientific journal articles and book chapters. He has received the outstanding contribution to research award from the Association for Death Education and Counseling as well as many other awards for his research on child and family resilience.

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