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Meaning Oriented Grief Therapy

This workshop will introduce participants to meaning-oriented grief therapy, an approach that seeks to facilitate loss narrative reconstruction, developing a security-enhancing bond with the deceased and living a meaningful life without the deceased (Neimeyer et al., 2011). This model follows research findings suggesting that grief therapy addressing the greater need for sense-making and reconstructing meaning could aid effective adjustment (Currier, Holland, & Neimeyer, 2008).

Meaning-oriented grief therapy involves a brief-therapeutic protocol with an introductory and closing session and five major phases: “Reopening the Story” phase, progressing to “Processing the Event Story of the Loss” and “Revisiting the Back Story of the Relationship,” before concluding with “Accessing the Continuing Bond”, and finally, “Consolidation”. Each phase involves several techniques, which are drawn from the Meaning Reconstruction Approach (Neimeyer, 2012; Neimeyer & Sands, 2011).

After a brief theoretical presentation of the rationale for meaning-oriented grief therapy, a selection of therapeutic techniques will be presented, illustrated with clinical excerpts and video recordings from real-life cases. A large focus of the workshop will be for participants to gain an experiential understanding of the techniques through hands-on practice.

The main goal of this workshop is to offer a set of principles for practice, illustrated through clinical video and experiential exercises.

The Trainers:

Dr Edith Steffen is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling Psychology at the University of Roehampton and a practising Counselling Psychologist. Her research is in meaning-oriented grief therapy, continuing bonds in bereavement and extraordinary death-related experiences. She recently ran a pilot ‘Meaning in Loss’ group at the research clinic of the Centre for Research in Social and Psychological Transformation (CREST) at Roehampton.

Dr Inês Mendes is a Lecturer at the Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway, University of London. Her main publications concern processes of change in psychotherapy, namely the development of innovative moments in different therapeutic treatments using mix-method design. As a Clinical Psychologist she has recently participated in a funded project aiming at assessing the efficacy of a 12 sessions’ protocol of meaning-oriented grief therapy delivered through Skype.

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