Missing Children Publication Hub

The publications in this section contain the results of our research as well as curated research on topics and issues relevant to missing children in Europe and the world. Example of the type of research you can find are understanding the causes of the different types of missing children cases in Europe, policy on missing children, search and rescue operations and family support. The menu and submenu options below will help you find what you're looking for.

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Missing Children Publication Hub

Family Support

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Supporting those who are left behind A counselling framework to support families of missing persons (by Sarah wayland)

When someone first disappears and is reported missing, the police and non-police search agencies are the primary support mechanisms for families. however, the initial focus is on the physical location and return of the missing person and the emotional needs of the family are often set aside while these practical issues are dealt with. while families are sometimes provided with telephone numbers for ‘support’, in the midst of juggling the practical details with the uncertainty of the disappearance, it is difficult for families to adequately express their needs. They don’t know why, where or how a loved one has disappeared and, perhaps more importantly, they don’t know how they will cope with being left behind. how do health practitioners and professionals discover what it is that families of missing persons need in order to deal with being left behind? Those working in the field of missing persons often feel a sense of both helplessness and frustration in terms of finding ways to support and engage families without adding to the ambiguity and uncertainty they experience. further hindering the limited number of professionals working in this field has been the lack of international literature exploring the specific support needs of families of missing persons. Some health practitioners and professionals have attempted to align the experience of having someone missing with the concepts of grief and bereavement. others have linked the experience to a form of post traumatic stress. however anecdotal evidence collected from the missing persons' sector shows that families are often confronted with ambiguity when they reach out for professional help. There is currently no model of counselling that allows health practitioners and professionals to adequately explore the specific needs of families who are left behind. while there is grief support available, it does not take into account the long-term ramifications of never gaining closure when a loved one’s location remains unknown. in response to this, the national Missing persons Coordination Centre has developed Supporting those who are left behind . This national counselling framework aims to assist health practitioners and professionals in understanding the trauma and impact on families of missing persons and how they can best support those who are left behind.


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