Creative Approach to Working with Bereavement

“A well -rounded life should have a beginning, a middle and an end”

Colin Murray Parkes


At the end of July 2018, 20 mental health professionals (psychologists; psychotherapists; counsellors and social workers) participated in a 3-day workshop on Creative Approaches to Working with Bereavement.

This was facilitated by UK-based dramatherapists Dr. Alyson Coleman and Alison Kelly, who are leading figures in this area of work. Dr. Coleman in fact wrote her PhD on “the experience of dramatherapists working with children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions” and gave a presentation on this study during the workshop.

The workshop was experiential, supporting the professionals to engage personally with the theme. Many participants commented on the lightness of the atmosphere that also served as a lesson on how to approach their own clients – approaching difficult topics and presenting them with light.  The arts therapies in fact support a positive approach to themes and issues that are complex and difficult. The stories, art materials and playful improvisations in themselves support this attitude.

During the three-days, we were supported by a theoretical framework but then played with the myth of Persephone; story; dramatizing the emotional perspective of different people experiencing loss; improvised around connections; and sat together reflecting on our processes in working with our clients.

In the image above, taken by dramatherapist, Diana Bajada Cauchi, you can see the clay candle holders that we created at the end of the workshop. These served as a symbol of the containment that we as professionals need to support ourselves when meeting loss and grief. We lit them together in a closing ritual.

A smaller group also participated in an additional evening of creative supervision.

The workshop was organised by Lou Ghirlando.  Our gratitude to the funders for making this possible; to Dr. Alyson Coleman and Alison Kelly for the care, warmth and dedication with which they delivered this training; and to all participants for engaging so openly, warmly and with such commitment.

This workshop was supported by the Arts Council Malta – Professional Development Grant and the Farsons Foundation.

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