16th Reintegration Puzzle Conference

Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
1-3 March 2023

Changing Seasons,
Changing Lives

The Value of Small Group Programs in Supporting Change, Loss and Grief

Introduction: Change, loss and grief permeate the experience of individuals involved with Corrective Services, including First Nations and non Indigenous persons. The often complex circumstances surrounding the events leading up to and following incarceration are complex and ongoing. Grief is often considered a response to bereavement of the death of an individual. However, grief is a natural and normal response to any significant loss or change in an individual’s life.  It is well known that incarcerated individual’s experiences are complex, particularly First Nations, who have an overlay of intergenerational trauma and unresolved grief and loss as the result of treatment at the time of colonisation and beyond.

Objectives: To examine the importance of addressing the change, loss and grief experienced by inmates; to highlight the importance of peer group, education programs in supporting the healing from the experience and gaining important knowledge and skills related to the experience.

Approach: A review of research and literature regarding the grief experience of adults within Corrective Services and the ways in which Seasons for Growth, an evidence-based program and structured small group process, can support healing and wellbeing. The presentation will draw on the implementation of the Seasons for Growth Adult program and Seasons for Healing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander program in Corrective Services.  It will demonstrate the importance of the seasonal metaphor in assisting individuals to respond to their experiences.

Practice Implications and conclusions: Quality relationships and understanding the similarities and differences for individuals and helping to appreciate “I am not the only one” and the use of the seasonal metaphor in bringing this to fruition. This has implications for the practitioner and other professionals working with prisoners and the presentation will outline practical opportunities for ongoing support in this space.


Mandy Cox
Partnerships and Program Coordinator
, Good Grief/Mackillop Family

Mandy is the Partnerships and Program Coordinator for Good Grief/Mackillop Family Services, where she co-ordinates the training of Seasons for Healing as well as offers mentoring and ongoing support for facilitators running the program in their workplaces and communities.

As well as her role with Good Grief, Mandy is a registered clinical Counsellor and Supervisor and has worked in the field of grief and loss for over 17 years, working in a range of counselling roles, including palliative care, coronial counselling, maternal loss, victims of violent crime, and co-founded Canberra Grief Centre.

Mandy has lived and worked in Katherine and Darwin NT for 11 years, ACT for 9 years and now lives in Newcastle on Awabakul land working for both Good Grief and in private practice.