NEW YORK, January 9, 2019—The Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University's School of Social Work today announced the launch of GriefSteps for Parents, an innovative, research-backed grief app designed to provide accessible, community-based support to families following the loss of a loved one.
Childhood bereavement affects many families across the United States: an estimated one in 15 children will experience the death of a parent or sibling before turning 18. Yet many bereaved children lack adequate support, including from those closest to them. In the New York Life Foundation's 2017 Bereavement Survey, 62 percent of adults who had lost a parent growing up said that they wish their immediate family had done more to help them following the death.
Recognizing the critical need to reach bereaved parents, GriefSteps for Parents offers insights and activities backed by scientific research to help families better understand grief and build parents' confidence in effectively supporting their grieving children. The app includes a simple grief charting activity which helps parents manage their own grief and better communicate with their children.
The app was developed through a three-year $800,000 grant from the New York Life Foundation, the largest corporate funder of childhood bereavement. "Through our partnerships in the bereavement field, we've witnessed a strong need for more community resources around death and loss,"said Foundation president Heather Nesle. "This new digital tool from the Center, which leverages their proven research, will help more parents and families cope with grief and improve the support they provide to grieving children."
"The support from the New York Life Foundation allowed us to create a self-paced resource for bereaved families that not only will provide free and useful activities and information as they adapt to loss but will also allow them to think about the future in a positive way," said M. Katherine Shear, M.D., Founder and Director of the Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University's School Of Social Work. "By receiving and integrating feedback from users, GriefSteps will also benefit the larger bereaved community and their support systems."
GriefSteps for Parents is based on the Center's 16-session, targeted psychotherapy treatment model that has been tested and proven effective in three National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded clinical trials. It incorporates resilience-building strategies from the Center's proven intervention for complicated grief aimed at enhancing understanding of grief and encouraging the use of self-monitoring for all bereaved families.
The app also features motivators for engagement and a space where families can share their experiences, ask and answer questions, and access self-assessment and referral materials.
The Center worked with Robots and Pencils App Designers to create the app. They also engaged New York Life and a group of end-users (bereaved families, grief therapists, masters-level social work students, and educational experts) to develop, pilot and evaluate it. Currently, the app has 510 users, 31 percent of whom are recurring users, including parents and caregivers of grieving children, grief counselors and therapists, organizations that support grieving families, and other grief stakeholders.
The Center for Complicated Grief is dedicated to the research, training, collaboration, and compassion that can improve the lives of people suffering from complicated grief*. It is under the leadership of M. Katherine Shear, M.D., and Marion E. Kenworthy, professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia University School of Social Work. The Center for Complicated Grief was launched in February 2013 and is the first university-based center for Complicated Grief. To learn more, please visit www.complicatedgrief.columbia.edu.
Inspired by New York Life's tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided more than $270 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good and Grief-Sensitive Schools programs. To learn more, visit www.newyorklifefoundation.org.