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Changing Lives through Children's Bereavement Therapy - Otis's Story

HomeOtis’s Story

How an alien helped 7 year old Otis beat his nightmares

Otis is a little boy from Manchester, and he’s been having nightmares of monsters, to the point that his mum, Rosie, realised she couldn’t solve this on her own… she needed professional help to get her happy little boy back.

At just seven years old, Otis has been through quite a lot. His mum and dad separated due to abuse, his grandma recently died, and he has two older siblings both with complex needs who naturally need a lot of mum’s time.

Fortunately, mum had experience of therapy from Gaddum, and so asked if they could help. We actually work with children as young as five, and so Otis was introduced to one of our therapists, Phil.

Phil explains how he worked with Otis: “I noticed Otis was easily distracted, and like most young children he found it hard to talk about feelings, so we used drawing pictures to help him express things, as well as using puppets and creative art.”

“It was through these activities that I noticed Otis always included his mum in them – whether it was making a space scene or modelling monsters. His mum was always there. When I focused on this, Otis said he felt safe when she was around, which was quite a breakthrough for him.”

Phil continues…  “When you’re doing therapy with young children, you need to build trust, so it was a little while later in our sessions when Otis started to draw more serious things.  A bad car accident, and then a monster chasing him, the monster killing him, and then him in heaven. At this point his mum showed me a similar picture he’d drawn at home of a monster killing his brother, which clearly was very upsetting.”

“These pictures did show Otis believed in heaven, so we talked about how to remember people we’ve lost, and having memory boxes to keep special photos, letters and personal items. This was something practical he could do, and it gave him a way to remember his nanna and auntie.”

In one session, Phil was talking to Otis about ways they could help him with his nightmares.

“We were exploring different things he could think about that could help him beat the monsters in his dreams. There was a poster on the wall, and Otis pointed to it – he said the alien in underpants would help because he would make him laugh.”

How skilful the funny little alien in underpants is at fighting the monsters, we don’t know. But the great news is Otis is doing really well, he’s more open about how he feels about his nanna and aunt, and the monster nightmares have gone away.

Rosie, says:

“Otis really enjoys his time with Phil, it’s time out for himself, whereas Sebastian and Vicky have always received support. He feels special that he’s got someone; one-to-one time, where it’s all about Otis.”

*Names have been changed.

Find out more about child bereavement therapy