1st Edition

Dramatherapy and the Bereaved Child Telling the Truth to Children During Difficult Times

By Stephanie Omens Copyright 2024
    138 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    138 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book addresses the needs of children experiencing the hospitalization or death of a caregiver or loved one to comprehend and cope with tragedy with the assistance creative non-fictions and dramatic play.

    Based on the author’s two-decade-long clinical practice and an extensive career working with bereaved children and their families as a dramatherapist and child life practitioner, this book demonstrates how storytelling and dramatherapy can be used to tell the truth to children in these difficult circumstances. Through vivid and candid case examples, the author demonstrates the developmentally normative, dramatic, and psychotherapeutic principles that inform her work. She shares stories for children that are carefully constructed to help children understand the truth of what they are facing rather than shielding them from reality. Attuned to the children’s direct experience, these stories take care to respect the culture and context of the death, and the histories of the people involved.

    The book, accessibly written, will provide guidance, insight, and comfort for professionals, clinicians, and grieving children and their families. Additional reader resources can be found at https://nowhitelies.com/store and www.routledge.com/9780367461041 under "Support Material".

    Foreword by David Read Johnson 1: Introduction 2: Context of the Work 3: Dramatherapy and Child Life 4: Intersections of Hospital, Drama, and Death 5: Developmental Considerations 6: Tangled Web of Lies 7: Stories in Loving Memory Chapter 8: Considerations


    Stephanie Omens is a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Mental Health Counselor, Registered Drama Therapist, Board Certified, and Certified Child Life Specialist in private practice in New York and New Jersey. She is an adjunct instructor at New York University and modalities supervisor at Lesley University. Further resources, contact details and information about Stephanie can be found here: https://nowhitelies.com/

    ‘There is no writer I seek out more often when I am working with children and families facing impossible circumstances. Stephanie Omens uses kindness and bravery to help adults grow in their ability to be truthful and supportive to children facing loss, a critical skill for parents and clinicians alike. Grounded in years of practice, this book shares a heartfelt and practical approach to bereavement work unlike any other I’ve found in the literature.’

    Adam Reynolds, PhD, MFA, LCSW, RDT/BC, Hunter College, City University of New York; New York University

    ‘This is a must read for clinicians, generalists and palliative specialists, who are looking for a refreshed reframing of truth sharing, the art of clinical creativity, and the therapeutic power of expression. Stephanie reminds us that all human-beings, especially children, are valued; and so is their coping, their lifestyle, and their wellbeing. Get ready to lean into this book.’

    Dr. Katie DeMarco, DNP, MSHS, FNP-BC, APN, ACHPN, Clinical Supervisor, Pain & Palliative Medicine Institue at HMH - Hackensack University Medical Center & Palliative Care APN

    ‘Stephanie Omens has written a wonderfully honest and kind book. Talking to children about dying, deterioration and loss feels cruel to most. So, the kindness and professionalism evidenced by Stephanie in telling the truth about these uncomfortable topics is impressive. As a reader, you are guided through raw and at times upsetting stories, but you feel safe. This is a consummate skill, evoking reflection and inspiring thoughts on mortality, family, and the bonds we make in life.’

    Christopher Seymour, Practice-Based Learning Lecturer, Specialist in Adult Palliative and End of Life Care, Manchester Metropolitan University

    ‘Stephanie Omens shares her specialised, holistic and creative practice with us and outlines her insightful interventions in relation to theory and research. The voice of the child and family is heard and their story told with respect and care throughout. Stephanie’s passion and dedication to her work is loud and clear and this book highlights the importance of grief work with children. This book should be present in every ICU, palliative ward and hospice setting.’

    Heather Williams, Senior Dramatherapist, Indigo Team, Croydon NHS (pre and post children’s Bereavement Service)

    ‘This publication is a must read guide for parents, clinicians and medical personnel. It is a radical reminder for us to consider the whole family in time of loss and a developmental and frank approach to telling the truth to children about death. It opens a new practice for creative arts therapists and child life specialists and argues the case for ICU and hospital administrators to prepare for and accommodate children and families facing the death of their loved one.’

    Alice Forrester, PhD, CEO, Clifford Beers Community Health Partners

    ‘This book is a heartfelt invitation to embrace the paradox of death within holistic, family-centered care. With unwavering courage, Stephanie Omens demystifies the difficult terrain of illness and loss, offering a transformative perspective. Each of her stories encourages us to confront uncomfortable cultural truths surrounding grief and find a compassionate and honest path forward that centers the experience of children. This book is a must-read for anyone committed to caring for grieving families.

    Nisha Sajnani, PhD, RDT-BCT, Director: Graduate Program in Drama Therapy, New York University; Founder: Arts & Health @ NYU; Director: Theatre & Health Lab; Chair: Creative Arts Therapies Consortium; Faculty: Educational Theatre & Rehabilitation Science PhD Programs; Editor: Drama Therapy Review

    ‘Dramatherapy and the Bereaved Child is an extraordinary book revealing one of the hardest encounters a young person can make--with death. Stephanie Omens guides such encounters with grace, humility, dignity, depth of feeling and wisdom. Her deeply affecting clinical narratives offer a lens into how, why, when and where creative approaches of dramatherapy best serve the lives of grieving children and their families. These stories are indelible and should be required reading for all clinicians and other humans who will inevitably experience the same encounter.’

    Robert Landy, PhD, RDT-BCT, LCAT, Professor Emeritus, Founding Director, Drama Therapy Program, New York University