Multidimensional Grief Therapy: Pilot Open Trial of a Novel Intervention for Bereaved Children and Adolescents

  • Ryan M. Hill
  • Benjamin Oosterhoff
  • Christopher M. Layne
  • Evan Rooney
  • Stephanie Yudovich
  • Robert S. Pynoos
  • Julie B. KaplowEmail author
Original Paper



This study describes a pilot open trial of Multidimensional Grief Therapy, an assessment-driven, phasic individual therapy for bereaved youth. This study provides a preliminary outcome evaluation with respect to maladaptive grief reactions, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and depressive symptoms in bereaved youth.


The sample consisted of 65 bereaved youth (ages 6–17 years, M = 11.62, SD = 2.76; 53% female; 33.3% Hispanic, 31.8% African American/Black, 27.3% Caucasian, 6.1% mixed/biracial, 1.5% Native American). The study utilized a single-group open trial design. Youth referred to the study due to the death of a loved one completed measures of grief reactions, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and depressive symptoms. Measures were also completed following Phases I and II of the treatment.


Youth who completed Phase I (n = 42) reported significant reductions from baseline, with large to very large effect sizes (Cohen’s D range = 0.77−1.35) for all three domains of maladaptive grief, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and depressive symptoms. Youth who completed Phase II (n = 22) exhibited significant reductions from the end of Phase I, with medium to large effect sizes (range = 0.57–0.90) for two domains of maladaptive grief as well as for posttraumatic stress symptoms and depressive symptoms.


Although further evaluations using a wider array of outcomes are needed to evaluate MGT and the maintenance of treatment gains over time, the present study provides preliminary evidence supporting MGT as an individual treatment for bereaved youth experiencing maladaptive grief reactions, post-traumatic stress, and depressive symptoms.


Bereavement Grief Posttraumatic stress disorder Treatment effectiveness Depression 



This research was supported by grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SM-16008 and SM-062111), both given to J.K.

Author Contributions

R.M.H.: Completed the data analysis and prepared the initial and revised manuscript draft. B.O.: Assisted with data analysis and data preparation. C.M.L.: Collaborated with writing the manuscript. E.R.: Assisted with the writing and preparation of the manuscript. S.Y.: Assisted with execution of the study. RSP: Collaborated in editing the manuscript. J.B.K.: Designed and executed the study; collaborated in the writing and editing of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration. The Baylor College of Medicine IRB approved this study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent/assent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan M. Hill
    • 1
  • Benjamin Oosterhoff
    • 2
  • Christopher M. Layne
    • 3
    • 4
  • Evan Rooney
    • 1
  • Stephanie Yudovich
    • 1
  • Robert S. Pynoos
    • 3
    • 4
  • Julie B. Kaplow
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  3. 3.UCLA/Duke National Center for Child Traumatic StressLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral SciencesUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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