“Before coming to the Wendt Center, I really didn’t care about school or anything — I was like, ‘Forget it, I’m not doing the work’ — and then my whole attitude changed. I started to care about myself, about school and about other people.”— Wendt Center Teen Client
We offer a continuum of care for children and youth impacted by grief and trauma through our C.H.I.L.D. Program’s wide array of services.
C.H.I.L.D. – Child Healing to Improve Learning and Development
Research reflects a strong link between exposure to trauma and depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in children and youth. In the District, children and youth are exposed to multiple traumas/difficult experiences including violent deaths, domestic violence, incarcerated caregivers, and community violence. C.H.I.L.D. is a holistic program of mental health services that represents a continuum of care for children and youth impacted by violence, trauma, grief and loss. Children are viewed in the context of family and community, and services are provided in office and community-based settings. Wendt Center clinicians employ verbal and non-verbal evidence-based, age-appropriate interventions, including art and play therapy, sand-tray, and other techniques.
Our Philosophy of Working with Children and Teens
Children express themselves through play and action. Toys, games, activities and drawing offer youth a way to explore feelings and life situations. Fantasy provides a safe place where youngsters can look at all kinds of issues.
Talking is often not the most complete way for children, and even teens, to communicate their feelings. They may have difficulty expressing the complex way emotions affect their lives. Young children have not learned the vocabulary and the meaning of feelings. For instance, what is the difference between “frustrated,” “scared,” “guilty,” and “anxious?” Very few children could explain the subtle differences and how the feelings influence their thoughts and behavior. Yet almost all children could play out the feelings with puppets, paints or games of imagination. In the presence of a trained therapist, play becomes the key to understanding and helping the child find ways to cope.
Whether in groups or individually, we find that play and activities are an important part of our work with children and teens. Sometimes it gets quite active, sometimes it’s silent. Counseling sessions last about 50 minutes and therapy takes several weeks or longer. It may be a continuous or intermittent process because it always responds to each child’s needs.
It is also important to realize that your child will probably not return from a session able or willing to talk about what they learned. How many times have you asked your child, “What did you do in school today?” only to be told, “Nothing?” Yet, when report cards come out, it’s clear your child was doing something. Play therapy is like that. Parents frequently wonder what throwing a ball or acting out Beauty and the Beast could possibly have to do with grief. But for a child, either could have important meaning.
We must also remember that confidentiality is as essential to children as it is to adults. Our conversations with the families always respect the children’s privacy (unless, of course, there is a question of safety to the children or someone else). Working with families to serve children in the most gentle and appropriate way is our primary concern.
Camp Forget-me-Not / Camp Erin DC
A camp program dedicated to providing fun, supportive opportunities to young people to explore feelings, thoughts and life changes since the death of their loved one.
We at Camp Forget Me Not/Camp Erin DC strive for a camp environment that cultivates kindness, compassion, respect, and inclusivity in an intentional and affirming way. Our camp programming is committed to fostering grief exploration, social skills, courage, and understanding in a healing and supportive space. We invite our camp community to preserve a safe and supportive environment that treats all people with dignity and thoughtful regard.
Voices of Now
VON is a year-long drama program that devises autobiographical plays and films with ensembles. Voices of Now plays/films are fast-paced, collaboratively written physical pieces that pose challenging social questions relevant to the ensemble of artists and their communities.
This collaborative program between Arena Stage and the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing is a phenomenal opportunity for grieving teens in grades 9-12 to share their voices, perform on stage, learn about their grief, educate others about grief, and build relationships with their peers. Teaching artists and a grief therapist will support ensemble members onsite during all rehearsals.
Recent Voices of Now Productions
Grieving Families Healing Together
Our Commitment to provide a loving atmosphere filled with laughter and learning has not altered. The Wendt Center for Loss and Healing presents “Grieving Families Healing Together,” virtual camp workshops designed to provide youth and their families with interventions to help them remember and honor loved ones who have died and learn new ways of coping and caring for self. Participants will explore grief in a safe, supportive setting where all family members’ self-expression is heard, valued, validated and honored. Participation is free of charge.
Resilient Scholars Project (RSP)
“I didn’t like this at first. Now I’m glad that these feelings can get out of me.— DC Elementary School 3rd Grader
Our RSP clinicians provide therapy and case management services to DC children/adolescents and their families affected by trauma and/or loss. RSP collaborates with youth, their families, and community partner staff to improve their understanding of trauma/loss and allow them to develop coping skills that are healthy and practical.
Resilient Scholars Project – School Based (RSP-SB) Services
RSP-SB services are grounded in evidence-based treatment models such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT), play therapy, and mindfulness. This program utilizes group and individual therapy to empower children and adolescents by highlighting their existing strengths. Throughout the school year, RSP clinicians facilitate trauma focused therapy services using art, experiential activities, writing, and other modalities that explain concepts to participants in developmentally appropriate ways. As part of RSP-SB Services, RSP clinicians also provide training to partner staff on incorporating trauma and bereavement informed practices into their environments.
Resilient Scholars Project – Family Based (RSP-FB) Services
RSP-FB Services utilizes three evidence bases models to support families who have experienced trauma: Trauma Adapted Family Connections, Lets Connect, and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
- Trauma Adapted Family Connections, TA-FC model is a 6 month model that incorporates principles from narrative therapy, motivational interviewing, and family systems therapy the aims to help families improve access to needed resources, build family connection, improve family communication, reduce mental health symptons in family members, increase safety skills, reduce youth absenteeism from school and/or improve youth grades. RSP clinicians also aim to help families improve access to needed resources, increase safety skills, reduce youth absenteeism from school, and/or improve youth grades over a period of six months.
- Let’s Connect (LC) is a parenting intervention that teaches caregivers to identify and respond to children’s emotional needs and behaviors in a way that builds connection and warmth and promotes children’s emotional competence, sense of emotional security, and well-being.
- Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidence – based model that helps children and adolescents recover after trauma. The model supports children with understanding trauma, building coping skills, and expressing emotions while building caregiver support skills.
Other C.H.I.L.D. grief and trauma services
- Crisis Response at schools, community centers, and other locations to help children who have been traumatized by acts of community violence, disaster, and/or corresponding death(s).
- Volunteer Support, including mentoring for children and parents.
- Information and Education on Child Grief and Trauma provides caregivers and school communities with the information and resources needed to help children cope with traumatic loss.
- Training and Education of providers and the public on issues related to childhood grief and trauma. Wendt Center teams of therapists and graduate interns provide training or consultation to local schools, community centers, and other social service agencies throughout the Greater Washington Region, including consultation to facilitate on-site support for children.
- Professional Training by senior staff clinicians to any mental health professional interested in providing individual or group grief counseling services to children and teens.
Fees & Insurance
Individual Counseling Fees
Initial Assessment: $200
60-minute Counseling Session: $160/session
Reduced Fee (seen by Intern supervised by licensed Therapist): $40/session
Group Therapy Fees
For more information about Group Therapy, click here.
- DC Medicaid MCOs: (Amerigroup, Medstar Family Choice, Amerihealth Caritas, and HSCSN Health Services for Children Special Needs)
- Aetna (Managed by Magellan)
- Medicare (no Advantage plans)
- Office of Victim Services Grant (DC resident/crime victim or a victim of crime which occurred in DC)