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Social Isolation and Self-Esteem Among Adolescents at a Grief Camp
April 7 @ 9:40 am - 10:45 am
Approximately five percent of children in the United States will experience the death of a parent or sibling before turning eighteen. This experience can have a wide range of concerning psychosocial impacts, including social isolation, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicidality. However, the body of research on childhood and adolescent grief is quite limited, with an even greater void in the theoretical underpinnings necessary to provide efficacious clinical intervention and support for this population. The present study sought to aid in the understanding of the experience of being bereaved during adolescence by exploring the constructs of social isolation and self-esteem among adolescent males participating in an overnight bereavement camp. These factors were identified based on the non-normative nature of being bereaved during adolescence, and the importance of building positive self-esteem through social connection during this developmental period. Pre- and post-camp self-report quantitative and demographic data was collected, with significant correlations found between standardized measures of self- esteem, loneliness, and perceived sense of supports. An overall decrease in loneliness from pre-camp to post-camp was observed, and an increase in self-esteem was observed among veteran campers. Sub-group variables were also explored. While benefits of participating in a bereavement camp were evidenced, this research also highlights the need to further develop specific tools to evaluate childrens’ grief and the impacts of various models of intervention among this population.
Daniel Wolfson, Psy.D., Postdoctoral Research Scientist