Frequently Asked Questions - Bridges

What is Bridges?

Bridges is family-oriented grief support center. We help children and their families learn to cope with the illness or death of someone close to them through peer support groups. We do not provide individual or family counseling.

Who Can Come to Bridges' Support Groups?

Families with children between the ages of 4 and 18 who have experienced the death or serious illness of a relative or friend are welcome to attend.

Our support groups are free of charge and available to all, regardless of economic status, religion or geographic area. Language interpreters (including interpreters for sign language) are available to help families participate.

How Much Does it Cost to Attend?

There is no cost for attending our support groups. We do welcome donations.

What Happens in a Typical Support Group Meeting?

The evening begins with staff welcoming all families as they arrive.  At 6:30 the Bridges Coordinator disperses the children, teens and adults to their groups. Then children and adults divide into groups appropriate for their ages. These groups are led by trained facilitators.

During the group meetings, participants may recount memories or express feelings and concerns. Activities may include working with clay, acting out dramas, singing music, playing games, doing memory projects, playing with puppets or participating in other kinds of recreation.

Do You Talk About Religion?

We respect all faiths. Our support groups do not have a religious orientation. We encourage families to talk together about issues of faith outside of our sessions.

What are the Qualifications of Those in Charge?

Our staff members are master’s level practitioners trained to help those experiencing grief. A Bridges staff member is always present to oversee the support group meetings. 

What Training Do the Group Facilitators Have?

Some of our facilitators are professionals from the human services field. Others are concerned members of the community who want to help children and their parents. All facilitators have completed a 30-hour training program, which includes information about living with loved ones who are ill, recognizing developmental needs of children, conducting therapeutic activities for children, understanding group dynamics and fostering listening and self-awareness skills. Our facilitators also participate in continuing education.

Are Visitors or Prospective Families Allowed to Sit in on Groups to Observe the Process?

To respect the privacy of our participants, visitors cannot attend support group meetings. Prospective families learn about our services through literature, meetings with the staff and a tour of the facility.

How Can I Learn More or Join a Support Group?

Call our office at 253-403-1966 to set up an interview. We are located at the Mary Bridge Children's Health Center, 311 South L Street, Tacoma, WA, 98415.

How Do I Make a Referral?

Call our office at 253-403-1966 to obtain brochures or other materials to give to families. We like to talk directly with those who’d like to participate. When a family calls to request services, we set up an interview and ask all family members to attend. Children will complete activities and take a building tour to help them feel more comfortable.