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Therapists’ corner: Cate Hey

Auckland-based Cate Hey is a Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychologist and one of our therapists at Kenzie’s Gift. She has more than 25 years’ experience working in child and adolescent mental health, and has worked closely with us for the past five years, supporting tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau.

We first met Cate through a whānau she was supporting, and she tells us what inspired her to join the team of trained therapists at Kenzie’s Gift.

What first drew you to Kenzie’s Gift, and what’s unique about what we offer?

“Kenzie’s Gift offers assistance to families at a time when they’re facing the acute challenges of dealing with serious illness and death. They offer help and support when people really need it.

“Kenzie’s Gift provides referrals to therapists along with a range of free resources that families can look at together. They offer practical advice on how to help young people deal with their grief, which everyone is going to experience in different ways. Kenzie’s Gift is aware that different families need different support, therefore recognising uniqueness and individuality. ”

If we didn’t have the funding for Kenzie’s Gift, what would happen to the families we work with?

“The support that Kenzie’s Gift offers helps remove the financial stress for many families who may not be able to fund the support that their children need.

“Without the support and financial assistance offered by Kenzie’s Gift, some of the families wouldn’t be able to access the support they need. The free therapy sessions offered by Kenzie’s Gift mean parents don’t have the burden of navigating other services and options, which are often complex and expensive, at a time when their main focus needs to be on the psychological wellbeing of their child.”

What three pieces of advice would you give someone on helping young people deal with grief?

“Remember that young people process grief in a different way than adults. One minute they can be talking about important feelings such as sadness, confusion, and anger, and then the next minute they move very quickly onto another issue, often unrelated to the grief. Children can be more fluid in moving from one aspect to another in their lives. Whereas sadness may present itself in more obvious ways with adults and last more consistently.

“It’s important for tamariki and rangatahi going through grief to be able to ask for help from others. Often other people are willing to support families when they’re going through serious illness or grief, but sometimes they don’t know how to show or offer this help.  It can be good for the family going through a difficult time to think through how they might want help. For instance, is it helpful for people to cook a meal, transport children to a sports’ practice, or just be there for a cup of tea? Identifying how families who are going through grief need assistance takes the guesswork out of it for people trying to help them.

“Remember that young people express their grief and emotions in different ways. Some children like to talk, while others may prefer to do something active, such as go for a walk. It’s important to remember that children who are not showing outward sadness or who are less inclined to talk have not been affected by grief; as children have different ways of expressing emotions.”