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News and Updates

R.P.G. Therapy
 Posted: 8/1/17 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)
 

“But I HATE therapy!” This is something we hear from children over and over again. Why is that? When most children think of “therapy,” they picture “talk therapy” or “cognitive therapy.” While this modality of mental health treatment is appropriate for adults, a child’s brain is not as capable of using language toexpress his or her feelings.

A child’s expression comes out in creative forms, such as play, art, or music. This is why we always refer children to professional therapists in those realms (play therapy, art therapy, equine therapy, etc.). When you play into a child’s strengths, you often find that the healing is stronger!

The program team at Olivia’s House is always searching for new modalities of therapy that can help children with complicated bereavement. That very thing came our way through Dave Kot and The Bodhana Group! Dave, a longtime friend of Olivia’s House, brought us their newest approach to children’s group therapy: a tabletop role-playing game used to therapeutically work through grief and loss.

Leslie and Julia got to see this therapeutic approach firsthand as they met weekly with a group of Hearts Can Heal alumni at Comic Store West on Tuesday evenings and sat in on the therapy game, No Thank You, Evil. Through the flexible and immersive game play, the boys of the group were able to explore their grief journey from a bird’s eye view, then gain and give perspective as they worked together to problem solve, cope, and find comfort in resolution. We can’t wait to continue working with The Bodhana Group in bringing role-playing games to the forefront of cutting-edge therapy!

 
 
Grief Affects Us All
  Posted: 7/1/17 by K.C. Delp (Executive Director)

 

As some of you may know, we recently lost one of the best staff members our mission has ever had. In May, our pet therapy dog, greeter, and all around best buddy, Samantha, crossed the rainbow bridge.

 

I adopted my Sammy-girl when I was trying to figure out how to be an "adult." I had moved into my York City apartment and was living on my own for the first time. She needed me and I needed her. We were not quick to love each other, but the bond grew deeper than I ever thought possible.

 

I always believed when Sam’s time concluded I would be okay. I would find comfort knowing she had lived an incredibly charmed life. Working at the grief center, I would surely model positive mourning. I can now admit how wrong I was!

 

I can vividly recall the extreme anxiety I experienced when simply going to the bank. Everyone at the York Traditions drive-thru window knew Sammy, and the thought of explaining why she wasn’t in the back of the Jeep without breaking into tears was enough to shatter my confidence. To be honest, I avoided taking that deposit for at least three days. We say it every day at Olivia’s House: “bereavement is hard work.” I avoided being at home, I struggled at work, and my new routine was uncomfortable.

 

As a staff, we know that our own losses help to provide perspective as we support our families. I found comfort from my friends and family, and my “new normal” began to feel more natural. No, I have not wiped her nose marks off the back of the Jeep’s headrest yet, but I can now look at them and smile. I share this experience not for any other reason than to give merit to the bereavement process. It does not discriminate, there are no shortcuts, and it isn’t simple… but it gets easier!

 
 
The Walk to Remember Celebration
 Posted: 6/1/17 by Michelle Fox (Administrative Director)

 

We can’t keep it a secret anymore;  the Walk to Remember planning is underway and we are very excited to share the news with everyone. Many of you already know that this year is our fifteenth anniversary, and Olivia's House is inviting everyone to put on their party hats and celebrate this milestone with us!  To commemorate the occasion, we will host ONE BIG Walk to Remember on Saturday, September 30, 2017 at Hickory Falls Family Entertainment Center from 9 am until 11 am.

The Walk to Remember Celebration will be a fun and exciting morning for the entire family! There will be go-karting, miniature golf, laser tag, rollerball bowling, an indoor play area and the arcade - not to mention, we have the entire venue to ourselves! How awesome is that? Team registration will start at 8:30 a.m. and the fun continues from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m.

We will, of course, include the cherished traditions of past walks - the opening and closing ceremonies, top team and individual awards, the Grand Marshall, and Memory Lane.  And this year, we'll be serving up fifteenth anniversary cake!

If you would like to take part in all the fun, you can register at any time by contacting Michelle Fox at volunteer@oliviashouse.org or by calling 717-699-1133. You and your team can keep up-to-date by following our Facebook page and by visiting our website. We will be awarding prizes all spring and summer to registered teams, so don’t miss out!

Please plan to join us for this very special Walk to Remember Celebration on September 30 at Hickory Falls Family Entertainment Center in Hanover!

 
 
 
 
The Latest Research in Mood Disorders
Posted: 5/1/17 by Leslie Delp, MA (Founder and Bereavement Specialist)
 
The brain is the most complex master of the human body - it controls everything.  The specialists at Johns Hopkins Medical Center engage in research of the normal functions of the brain, as well as the effects on the body when the brain is not working properly. Affective Disorders are any mental illness involving moods and behavior.  The genetics with regard to disorders are of primary importance to the researchers at the world renowned medical center. The Annual Affective Disorders Symposium has been held at Johns Hopkins Medical Center for over 30 years.  The many pioneers in this field share their latest hypotheses and research concerning the brain with regard to depression, bi-polar disorder and suicide.  In the last 15 years, the staff of Olivia’s House has attended the symposium.  We purchase the latest books on the subjects of grief and loss, suicide and mood disorders in the symposium bookstore, giving our lending library at Olivia’s House one of the most extensive research-based collections on those topics.  We hear from professional researchers in the field, patients struggling with the disorders, and families working to support their loved ones.  It is an extraordinary combination of resources and perspectives. We feel blessed to be so geographically close to such an incredible outstanding institution and annual educational opportunity. 

The symposium was different this year.  It was designed to educate the layperson, the family member or patient who wanted to understand the diseases that affect the mind.  The sessions were still comprehensive and cutting edge; however, audience members were invited to ask specific questions of the researchers at the conclusion of every session.  The topics were interesting, from how to use a new app on a smart phone to track moods, to a new iPad technology that allowed a patient to self-report when seeing their therapist.  Kaye Redfield Jamison spoke about women writers and their role in promoting understanding of mental illness, and we heard from a family whose son suffered with bi-polar disease and from a young botanist who struggled to balance her life as a wife, mother and professional amidst the throes of depression.  All in all, it was a day rich in learning valuable information and considering fresh perspectives.  We look forward to next April when the symposium is offered once again!
 
 
You Don't Have to Wait
Posted: 4/10/17 Julia Dunn, M.Ed. (Program Director)
 

We are well known in the community for offering grief- and loss-related support. Our staff is constantly out and about educating and advising families and professionals on how to use Olivia’s House as their safety net when loss touches their lives. However, at some point, it seems, a misconception arose that a family needs to wait six months after a death occurs before calling us. We’d like to reassure you that this is not the case!

            The origin of this misconception, while unknown, can be surmised. Families are not always ready to call us immediately after a death. There is often a period of “survival mode” during which it may be difficult for loved ones to gather the wherewithal to reach out for help. Some families may wait a year or longer before they look for support. Other families do call us right away, or even before a death happens (which is ideal!). If you consider the amount of time it takes each family to call us after a loss, it may average out to be around six months. 

            It is time to lay to rest the myth of having to wait six months to call Olivia’s House. There is so much support we can offer families in the days and weeks immediately following their loss, and even before a death occurs.  Remember, if you are experiencing grief or loss, we are here for you at Olivia’s House!