Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Melissa Lundquist


Social Work


Children and adolescents often experience a wide variety of loss and disruptive change throughout their lives. School is where children and adolescents are expected to perform at their best intellectual, emotional, social, and behavioral capacity; however, the reaction after a loss can impact a student’s academic performance and include regressive behavior. Schools are a fundamental place for the development of children, and school social workers in particular work with students who have experienced a wide variety of stressful incidents and are critical in improving the social-emotional well-being in students. The purpose of this study was to explore school social workers’ experiences working with grieving students. Using a qualitative design, 10 school social workers currently working in Minnesota elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools were interviewed regarding their experiences working with grieving students. The findings indicated a high prevalence of loss among students, leading school social workers to work with grieving students on a frequent basis. Additionally, students often experience wide-ranging types of losses, including both death and non-death losses. Findings also indicated various barriers that school social workers face in providing services to grieving students and the lack of grief and loss training for school social workers and teachers. These findings highlight the critical, multifaceted role of the school social worker in working with grieving students.

Included in

Social Work Commons