Family Bereavement Program (FBP)

Program Type and Risk Level:

  • Indicated prevention/intervention for low to moderate risk youth

Developed by:

  • Irwin N. Sandler, Tim Ayer,s & Sharlene Wolchik


Program Information:

  • FBP is a multi-family group model for youth who have experienced the death of a caregiver. The program takes place over 12 sessions last two hours, with two additional telephone sessions with parents. Modalities include presentations, videotape modeling, role plays, collaborative group learning experiences, and homework assignments. Groups can serve 5-11 members. FBP is delivered by two master’s level mental health professionals. Typically, the caregiver program is accompanied by a child program that is run concurrently. Concepts to include in the child group should draw from the original Family Bereavement Program research.1


  • Parents/caregivers of youth ages 3-16 who have experienced the death of a parent in the past several years. Youth participate in a concurrent group.

Return on Investment:

  • No data available as of December 2014

Program Overview:

  • FBP utilizes modeling and role playing techniques combined with home based practice to build protective factors and decrease risk factors for youth who have experienced the loss of a parent. Each group session delivers clearly defined content that addresses the following: Initial implementation materials: $2,028 per site.

Positive caregiver – child relationships

  • Listening skills
  • Family time
  • One-on-one time
  • Catch-em-Being Good
  • Guided problem solving

Effective discipline

  • Clear expectations and rules
  • Effective and contingent consequences
  • Consistent use of consequences

Caregiver distress, depression and grief

  • Positive reframing
  • Encourage support seeking
  • Support for achieving bereavement-related goals

Protecting children from stressful events that follow bereavement

  • Reduce occurrence of stressful events that impact children
  • Shield children from stressful events
  • Support effective child coping

Proven Research Outcomes:

  • Effects on youth: Lower externalizing and internalizing symptoms, greater self-esteem, less dysfunctional stress regulation as measured by cortisol and lower levels of distressing grief up to six years following program participation.
  • Effects on bereaved caregivers: Strengthened parenting, lower levels of distressing grief, lower levels of depression and lower prevalence of alcohol abuse six years following program participation.
  • Important notes:
    • Many of the effects of the program on youth were partially accounted for by improvements in parenting.
    • Families receiving mental health services were excluded from the original RCT.2
    • The program was less effective for youth who had higher levels of mental health symptoms at program entry. 2 Given this finding, the program developers suggest that the program is not appropriate for youth with clinical levels of mental health problems unless the youth are simultaneously receiving clinical services for these problems.
    • Please contact the Reach Institute for further information about the nature of the Family Bereavement Program and research findings on its effects.


  • Initial 3 Day On-Site Training for up to 10
  • Facilitators: $8,500 (includes trainers travel)
  • Manual and Implementation Materials: $200 per group leader manual
  • Supervised First Implementation: $5,400 for a group of 4 facilitators running two groups
  • Access to Portal for Video Upload and Fidelity Monitoring: $1,496 (8 facilitators)
  • Includes:
    • Web-based review of video recorded sessions by FBP expert
    • Weekly 2 hr group supervision with FBP expert via phone/web
  • Training of Trainers Model is Available- Facilitators can be recommended by the developer based upon quality of initial implementation.
  • Please contact the Reach Institute for further information about developing a training and implementation plan.

Have a question about FBP?