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Frequently Asked Questions

What is BRIDGES?

BRIDGES is a family-based support program. At BRIDGES, families with children ages 4-18 who have experienced the death of someone close to them, or who know someone with a serious diagnosis, come together to heal.  BRIDGES offers support groups for children as well as concurrent groups for adults.

Who can come to BRIDGES?

This grief support center is available to families with children between the ages of 4-18 years old who have experienced the death of a relative or friend or who are living with someone who is seriously ill. Services are available regardless of race, religion or economic status. The parent or caregiver attends a group meeting at the same time the child meets with a peer group.

What are the qualifications of those in charge?

The staff are Master's level social workers trained to help those experiencing grief. Many of our volunteer facilitators work in one of the helping professions. We seek to provide safe groups led by caring volunteers who have been trained to lead peer support groups. When support groups convene at BRIDGES, there will be a trained staff person present to oversee services. BRIDGES does not provide individual or family counseling.

What kind of training have the group facilitators had?

Some of our facilitators are professionals from the human services field. Others are concerned members of our community who want to help grieving children and their parents. All facilitators have completed a 32-hour training program. The 32 hours of training and education includes: information about children and grief, recognizing developmental needs of children, therapeutic activities for children, group dynamics, listening skills and self-awareness skills in the areas of death and grief.

Ongoing training includes reading materials, videos and participation in four annual in-services.

How do children and families get Into a group?

Families who are interested in BRIDGES can arrange for an intake interview just by calling the BRIDGES office at 253-403-1966. BRIDGES is located inside the Mary Bridge Health Center, 311 South L Street in Tacoma, WA

How much does BRIDGES cost?

BRIDGES is offered to families free of charge. Donations are welcomed.

Are services limited to people within a certain geographic area?

People are welcome to attend BRIDGES from anywhere. Most families come from Pierce, King, Thurston and Kitsap counties. If you live closer to Puyallup please talk with us about options in that area.

Are visitors or prospective families allowed to sit in on groups to observe the process?

To respect the privacy of the children and adults in our program, visitors cannot attend support group meetings. Prospective families will have an opportunity to learn about BRIDGES’ services through literature, meetings with the staff and a tour of the facility.

What will happen on a typical evening?

The evening will begin with a potluck dinner. After dinner, children and adults will divide into groups appropriate for their ages. These groups are led by trained facilitators.

After a time of sharing with each other, group activities will occupy the rest of the group time. Sharing time in groups emphasizes discussion and peer interaction, and is a time when freedom to recount memories or express feelings and concerns is important. Activities may include working with clay, drama, music, games, memory projects, puppets and recreation.

Is someone available to visit with our group to tell us more about BRIDGES?

A member of our staff will be happy to visit with your group. Call 253-403-1966 to speak with a staff member and make an appointment.

How do I make a referral?

Families with children between the ages of 4-18 years old who have experienced the death of a relative or friend or have a family member with a serious diagnosis are welcome to participate in grief support groups at BRIDGES. Call the BRIDGES office at 253-403-1966 for information or to obtain brochures or other materials to pass along to families you would like to refer. We like to talk directly with families and encourage them to call.

Language interpreters, including sign language, are available for families to assist in the process of participating at BRIDGES. When a family calls to request services we take referral information and set up an intake interview that fits the family’s schedule. We ask all participating family members to come to the intake interview. Children will be engaged in activities and a building tour to help them feel more comfortable in the BRIDGES setting.

For More Information

Call us at 253-403-1966.

We're happy to answer any questions you may have.