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New Approaches to Grief and Loss Work

Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy have been strongly influenced over the last thirty years by “stage models” of grief – from Kubler-Ross onwards. However, over the last decade new therapeutic perspectives and research has seriously challenged some of the commonly held assumptions about grief & loss work and their therapeutic implications. Additionally there are particular factors about “traumatic grief” that provide particular challenges to the practitioner.

Understanding the Nature of Traumatic Grief

  • Sudden, unique or repeated forms of loss often create particular grief problems for clients
  • Suicide, torture, violent forms of loss or simly those associated with high levels of conflict and emotion<
  • 7 key factors determining a client's loss experience
  • Contributions of new psychological theories - from Stroebe's Dual Process Model to the contribution of Positive Psychology.

Working Effectively with Traumatic Grief Problems

  • Specific issues relating to traumatic and multiple losses
  • Working with repeated cognitive rumination and intrusive distressing thoughts and environments
  • Managing recurrent anger and guilt within grief reactions.
  • Do you treat the client’s trauma or their grief as a priority?

Therapeutic Interventions

  • Developing a therapeutic strategy in grief work - options
  • Research on how grief work can be harmful for some clients and what you should avoid doing
  • The question of what the focus should be in cognitive work and how to be effective
  • How to work with unreasonable guilt and resentment as well as “genuine causal guilt”
  • Solution focused techniques for working with grief reactions
  • Helping clients to reintegrate their view of themselves and their loss

Paul Grantham says:

While reviewing the final details for this course I was struck by how many myths are still around in this field! Elisabeth Kubler-Ross died a decade ago but despite both her own renunciation of some of her earlier theories and extensive subsequent research, many myths remain.

Here are 5 of them:

Myth 1.       ROSS’ STAGES OF GRIEF MODEL WAS DEVELOPED THROUGH HER WORK WITH THE BEREAVED.
It wasn’t. It was based on her observation of terminally ill patients preparing for death. There is still no research evidence to support the idea that this is a process that those experiencing loss go through – let alone HAVE to go through - in order to heal.
During our unique training we provide up to date alternative explanations of clients’ loss experiences.

Myth 2.       THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE MAJOR LOSSES NEED HELP IN ORDER TO HEAL.
This is not so. Over 20 years ago Hoeksema demonstrated that over half of those bereaved through the death of a loved one through cancer had significantly moved on automatically without help after 6 months. Does this mean no one needs help? Of course not, but it does mean that we need to be careful who we offer help to and when. There is already some evidence that it can be damaging if done incorrectly and at the wrong time.
In our training we help you identify when, where and how to offer help.

Myth 3.       MAJOR LOSSES REQUIRE CONFRONTING AND EMBRACING GRIEF.
Not necessarily. Events per se do not make us feel bad. It’s the way we think about events that do. We know from the process of selective attention that things can get bigger rather than going away. There is a real danger in confronting grief that it can actually become bigger and more overwhelming. So what’s the alternative? It’s certainly not denial, but it’s different from what you been taught before.

Myth 4.       THE BIGGEST RISK FOR THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE GRIEF IS DEPRESSION.
Low mood is a risk but suicidal risk should be in the forefront of all practitioners’ minds. As the saying goes – the big problem with your own death is that you can’t learn from it. Are you on the lookout for suicidal risk in your grief and loss clients? Do you know how to assess such risk? We’ll teach you how on the training day.

Myth 5.       ANGER IS THE MOST COMMON SUPPRESSED EMOTION IN GRIEF AND ITS EXPRESSION SHOULD BE FACILITATED.
In fact it’s no more common than a range of other emotions following loss including emotions like relief and gratitude. And when it does show itself, we have extremely good  evidence now that facilitating its expression can make the problem far worse. Anger needs to be dealt with in a very specific way that we will explore in our training.

We’ve packed a lot into a single days training in order to address all the above issues and more. It is a fast moving day and I believe it will change your thinking about how to deal with grief and loss forever.

Course Leader:

Paul Grantham
B.A. (Oxon), M.Sc, M.Clin.Psychol., BABCP (Accred)

Paul Grantham is a clinical psychologist with vast clinical and training experience. Having originally taken a degree in history at Oxford University, Paul chose to make Psychology his professional career and took an MSc degree in Psychology at Sussex University followed by training as a Clinical Psychologist at Liverpool University. He has worked extensively within the NHS for many years as a clinical psychologist including primary care, mental health, forensic, substance misuse and physical health and has trained staff in health care, social services, local government and education around the UK and abroad. Paul has a particular interest in people motivation for change, resistance and reasons of why people do NOT change and currently focuses on practical applications of resource based therapies. He has presented and written on a range of psychological issues with particular emphasis on working with clients’ inner resources for overcoming problems.

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