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Counseling for Children & Families

Merimna - Our Work

For a child or adolescent, death and life-threatening illness are events that have a profound impact on his or her life. The pain that such events cause children is unfortunately inevitable. However, with the right support, we can help children to feel relief, learn to cope effectively with these experiences and integrate them into their life story.

At times when children are faced with the pain of loss or illness, they need to express their thoughts, questions and feelings and to feel that their loved ones understand and support them. But each child is unique and has special needs. Thus, when the support provided is tailored to their individual needs, it facilitates their normal development and adaptation to any challenges, while preventing adaptation difficulties.

Recognizing the significant needs of children and parents facing the serious illness or death of a loved one, Merimna established in 1998 a Childhood Bereavement Counseling Center in Athens, and since 2013 a second Counseling Center has been operating in Thessaloniki, serving the needs of Northern and Western Greece.

With a focus on the child, the purpose of the Childhood Bereavement Counseling Centers of Merimna is to provide psychological support to children, adolescents and their families in difficult moments when a loved one is suffering from a serious illness or has died. The psychological support provided by Merimna is completely free of charge, either through individual sessions or through participation in support groups for parents and support groups for children.


Individual and Family Psychological Support

– For children and adolescents (Read this: “If you are a teen”)

– For parents and all adults who have a significant role in the child’s life (Read this: “Supporting the bereaved child”)

Merimna - Goneis

Support groups for parents

a) groups for parents who are grieving the loss of a spouse/partner

b) groups for parents who are grieving the loss of a child

The groups meet once a week and each session lasts 1.5 hours and is facilitated by a Merimna psychologist.

Μέριμνα - Τηλεφωνική Γραμμή Στήριξης

Merimna, with a phone call you can reach the Psychological Support Line.

Merimna provides professional Childhood Bereavement Counseling services via telephone to parents, educators, mental health professionals and organizations that do not have access to the Bereavement Counseling Centers either in Athens or in Thessaloniki.

The specialized psychologists of the two Counseling Centers of Merimna, in Athens and Thessaloniki, are available to answer your questions and provide support regarding serious illness or the loss of a loved one.

Counseling by phone is not limited to the management of an individual crisis but may also include regular contact with the family and/or the school when a traumatic event has affected the lives of the children and families of a community.

You can call us from Monday to Friday at the hours and phone numbers listed below:

Telephone Support Line – Athens: +30 210 6463622

The support line operates Monday thru Friday 10:00-17:00 for the areas on the map of Greece (below) that are marked with the color Rose.

Telephone Support Line – Thessaloniki: +30 2310 510010

The Support line operates Monday thru Friday 10:00-18:00 for the areas on the map of Greece (below) that are marked with the color Blue.

Support groups for children and adolescents

The support groups are for children of different ages, who have lost a parent or a brother or sister and have been proven to be very beneficial. The groups meet once a week over a two month period. Every session lasts for 1.5 hours and is facilitated by a Merimna psychologist.

Collaborations with schools

Teachers wishing to receive counseling support when a student experiences a loss in their family environment or when the school community faces the loss of a student or teacher may contact the Counseling Centers of Athens or Thessaloniki.

In situations where the whole school population is affected by the serious illness or death of a member of the school community (ie: student, teacher, administrator or support personnel) the intervention will address the whole school community so as to assist the educators to support the students effectively as well as to raise the awareness of the parents. Bereavement counseling with teachers of a class or a school is provided by appointment or through the Telephone Support Line if the school is not in Attica or Thessaloniki.

Which families can request support from Merimna?

Merimna supports all families who have children under the age of 18 and who have a family member who is seriously ill or who has died.

What is the charge for the services provided?

The childhood bereavement counseling services are provided free of charge to children and families

How can those who live far away from Athens or Thessaloniki receive bereavement support?

When someone doesn’t have access to either of the two Childhood Bereavement Counseling Centers in Athens or Thessaloniki, support services can be provided through our Telephone Support line.

Can a couple who have lost a baby, and do not have any other children receive assistance?

Yes, they can receive support if they request it. Also, in some cases, Merimna can support parents even when they do not provide services to the child.

Is it necessary to bring my child to the first meeting?

The first two meetings are held with the parents-guardians of the children and it is jointly decided whether to propose to the children to meet with a psychologist. It is essential that the children are informed and compliant.

Childhood Bereavement Counseling Center Staff – Athens:

Eleftheria Ralli, psychologist, Head of the Athens Counseling Centre
Kelly Moraiti, psychologist
Faidon Hatzis, psychologist
Alexandros Vallidis, psychologist
Ellia Papadimitriou, secretary

Childhood Bereavement Counseling Center Staff – Thessaloniki:

Dina Tselepi, psychologist, Director of the Counseling Center of Thessaloniki)
Alexandra Kalaitzaki,psychologist
Artemis Seitanidou, secretary

Staff Psychologist Supervision provided by:

Peggy Athinioti
Eleni Nina
Tassos Zissis

External Associates – Psychologists:

Hara Kotsikou
Olga Metallinou
Dimitra Petanidou
Margarita Micheli
Evi Bitsakou
Olga Kotrotsou

“… When the ship of my life started sailing, it was armed with dreams and love. The journey didn’t have a specific destination. The most important thing was for my ship to endure rough seas in order to travel safely. It always managed to elude misfortune, when suddenly it was turned upside down by a massive wave. I had to jump off it and swim as fast as I could, before it sank. I was tired and exhausted from swimming, when all of a sudden I heard voices; the voices of three people giving me courage and strength to keep going and get out… The closer I got to the shore, the more people started gathering around… “Just keep swimming and you’ll make it. You can do it, we will help you,” Their arms reached out to me, pulled me out and embraced me to keep me warm. I am lucky to have managed to come out of that storm alive…”

Mother of two boys who, after the death of her husband, took part in a bereavement support group for parents.