Counseling and Support Group Services

Articles in this section focus on examining the quality of counseling and support group services for grandfamilies. They also include relevant discussion of the experiences and attitudes of grandparents who use these services as well as the experiences and attitudes of the counselors/leaders of these services.

1. Bachay, Judith B., and Barbara M. Buzzi. “Grandparents Raising Grandchildren: Challenges and Opportunities for Mental Health Practitioners.” American Counseling Association Journal (2012): 1-11.

By outlining the rising prevalence of grandfamilies in the U.S., the authors of this article call for mental health practitioners to adjust their services to better meet the complex needs of grandfamilies. Specifically they identify three types of family therapy that could be useful in serving grandfamilies: filial family therapy, narrative therapy, structural therapy.

2. Backhouse, Jan, and Anne Graham. “Grandparents raising their grandchildren: Acknowledging the experience of grief.” Australian Social Work 66, no. 3 (2013): 440-454.

This article looks at feelings of grief among grandparents who are raising their grandchildren because their own children are unfit parents. The authors conducted a series of in-depth interviews with 34 grandparents across Australia to analyze how these grandparents they navigate the complex issues that characterize their unexpected new life role. Although all of the grandparents interviewed in this study responded with the benefits, joy and satisfaction that come along with caring for their grandchildren, they also indicated deep feelings of grief and loss when considering the circumstances of their caregiving. The authors use the results of this study to discuss grandparent grief in the context of psychology’s grief theory. They also argue that too often grandparent grief goes unnoticed in policies, programs, and services developed to support grandparents-as-parents in Australia.

3. Collins, Susan M., Christine A. Fruhauf, and Kimberly Bundy-Fazioli. “Concerns and supports of grandfamilies using formal services: Do they have the help they need?.” GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy 3, no. 1: 2.

This analytical study examines the diverse needs of grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.  The data used in the study was gathered from a group of grandparents who were receiving support services in their community. The authors aim to summarize some of the psychosocial and functional needs of grandparents raising grandchildren and to assess whether or not support services provide adequate help.

4. Dannison, L., and A. Smith. “Lessons learned from a custodial grandparent community support program.”Children and Schools 25, no. 2 (2003): 87-95.

The program that this article discusses delivered services to grandparents, their grandchildren, and school personnel. Observational results showed positive benefits of participation for the grandparents and grandchildren.

5. Hayslip Jr, Bert, Julian Montoro-Rodriguez, Gregory C. Smith, and Frederick Strieder. “Group Leaders’ Perceptions of Interventions with Grandparent Caregivers: Content and Process.” GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy 2, no. 2: 3.

This study samples 19 leaders of grandfamilies support groups on their experiences. It discusses the benefits of support group intervention for grandparents: including establishing a sense of belonging, gaining personal insight, and learning new skills and coping mechanisms to apply to their everyday lives. The study also touches on some of the challenges of leading support groups as well: including requiring regular attendance by all members, steering productive group discussion and establishing equal sharing time for all members. In general, this study offers a more in-depth understanding of support group interventions for grandfamilies and methods for how to better assess their quality.

7. Littlewood, Kerry A. “Grandfamilies Outcome Workgroup’s (GrOW) review of grandfamilies support groups: An examination of concepts, goals, outcomes and measures.” GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy 1, no. 1 (2014): 3.

This article serves as both a review study of grandfamilies support groups as well as an outline of recommendations for how to better evaluate these services. Participants in this study included members of the Grandfamilies Outcome Workgroup (GrOW), representing five states (CA, NY, FL, CN, & AZ).The authors of this article point out the various benefits of community support groups for grandfamilies.

8. Smith, Andrea B., and Linda L. Dannison. “Grandparent-headed families in the United States: Programming to meet unique needs.” Journal of Intergenerational Relationships 1, no. 3 (2003): 35-47.

This article analyzes the ways in which parental support groups can be restructured to meet the unique needs of grandfamilies. The authors look at how the facilitators of four parental support groups administered The Parent Topic Questionnaire, a standardized assessment measure, to gather more information about the needs, desires and expectations of their grandparent participants. Using the results from this measure, group leaders were able to better specifically design their programs to better serve the educational, cognitive and social needs of grandfamilies.

9. Strom, Paris S., and Robert D. Strom. “Grandparent education: Raising grandchildren.” Educational Gerontology 37, no. 10 (2011): 910-923.

The authors of this article discuss how for many grandparents raising their grandchildren, they can feel underprepared in being second-time parents, as previous experience raising their own children often differs considerably from the present challenges of caring for grandchildren. The authors recommend a specific type of educational support group to help grandparents in managing their roles as parents-again. They discuss how a kind of peer-led support group, in which successful grandparent-caregivers provide a constructive paradigm in parental matters for other grandparents, can be beneficial.