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Training beyond a shared experience

(Global Times)

10:43, October 25, 2012

A Shanghai university and nonprofit organization have begun training a second batch of volunteers to be better counselors for parents who have lost their only child, local media reported Wednesday.

The program was created by East China Normal University and Star Harbor, a nonprofit organization that helps parents who have suffered the loss of an only child, according to a report on the news website

The organization seeks to offer these parents a support network of other parents who have endured the same experience.

Typically, these are parents who could only have a single child under the country's one-child policy and were unable to have another after their firstborn's death, usually because the mothers were past their childbearing years. Most are over 50 years old.

The training program was designed to teach volunteers how to comfort grieving parents as well as how to avoid reliving the experience of their own child's death, according to a Star Harbor staff member surnamed Wang.

"The program consists of lectures about how to provide emotional assistance. But it doesn't only benefit the bereaved parents. Volunteers will also learn how to avoid telling their own stories when they help newcomers recover from the shock of losing their only child," Wang told the Global Times.

It is not uncommon for volunteers to break down while counseling others, said a volunteer surnamed Yuan, who also serves as vice director of the organization.

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