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Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy

by J. William Worden

In this resource the author describes the mechanisms of grief and the procedures for helping clients accomplish the "tasks of mourning" to facilitate moving through the process of normal grieving.

Full Description:   

In this resource the author describes the mechanisms of grief and the procedures for helping clients accomplish the "tasks of mourning" to facilitate moving through the process of normal grieving. The author focuses on the subjects of uncomplicated mourning, pathological mourning, the bereaved family as patient, counseling the bereaved world will find the resource helpful.

Chapter Excerpt

Grief Therapy:
Resolving Pathological Grief

The goal of grief therapy is somewhat different from the goal of grief counseling. The goal in grief counseling is to facilitate the tasks of mourning in the recently bereaved in order that the bereavement process will come to a successful termination. In grief therapy the goal is to identify and resolve the conflicts of separation which preclude the completion of mourning tasks in persons whose grief is absent, delayed, excessive, or prolonged.

Grief therapy is most appropriate in situations that fall into these three catagories: (1) the complicated grief reaction is manifested as prolonged grief; (2) the grief reaction manifests itself through some masked somatic or behavioral symptom; (3) the reaction is manifested by an exaggerated grief response. Let's briefly look at these individually.

Prolonged Grief. Persons who experience this difficulty are consciously aware that they are not coming to an adequate resolution of their grief, because the loss has occurred many months, sometimes years, earlier. Often the reason behind this type of complicated grief reaction is a separation conflict leading to the incompletion of one of the tasks of grieving. Because these people are aware that there is a problem, they are generally self-referred. Much of the therapy involves ascertaining which of the grief tasks has yet to be completed and what the impediments to this completion are, then moving forward with that issue.

Masked as Somatic or Behavioral Symptoms. Here the patients are usually unaware that unresolved grief is the reason behind their symptoms. However, a perihpheral diagnosis, such as the one described in Chapter 4, reveals unresolved grief of a much earlier loss as the culprit. People usually experience this kind of complicated grief reaction because, at the time of the loss, the grief was absent or its expression was inhibited. Consequently, their grieving was never completed and this caused complications that surfaced later as somatic or behavioral symptoms.

Exaggerated Grief. A precise definition of exaggeration is difficult because of the wide variety of manifestations that normal grief can take, but persons falling into this category would be those with excessive depression, excessive anxiety, or some other feature usually associated with normal grief behavior manifested in an exaggerated way so that the person is dysfunctional and a psychiatric disorder diagnosis could apply.

Latest edition, Hardbound

    Table of Contents:
    1. Attachment, Loss, and the Tasks of Mourning: Attachment Theory / Is Grief a Disease? / Is Mourning Necessary? / The Four Tasks of Mourning / When is Mourning Finished?
    2. Normal Grief Reactions: Uncomplicated Mourning: Manifestations of Normal Grief / Grief and Depression / Determinants of Grief / The Mourning Process
    3. Grief Counseling: Facilitating Uncomplicated Grief: Goals of Grief Counseling / Who does grief counsling? / When to do Grief Counseling / Where should grief counseling be done? / Who receives grief counseling? / Identifying the At-Risk Bereaved / Counseling principles and procedures / Useful Techniques / The use of Medication / Grief Counseling in groups / facilitating grief through funeral ritual / Effectiveness of grief counseling
    4. Abnormal Grief Reactions: Complicated Mourning: Why people fail to grieve / How grief goes wrong / diagnosing complicated grief
    5. Grief Therapy: Resolving Pathological Grief: Goals and Setting for grief therapy / procedures for grief therapy / special considerations for grief therapy / techniques and timing / evaluating results
    6. Grief Special Types of Losses: Suicide / Sudden Death / Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) / Misscarriages / Still Births / Abortion / Anticipatory Grief / Aids
    7. Grief and Family Systems: Death of a Child / Children whose parents die / Intervention Approaches / Grief and the Eldrely / Familiy versus Individual Needs
    8. The Counselors Own Grief: Stress and Burnout
    9. Training for Grief Counseling

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