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Counseling Course For Grief & Bereavement (A Course Design) Rationale Losing someone or something you love is very

painful. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary for healing. There is no right or wrong way to grieve but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. You can get through it! Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.
In Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy (1991), the clinician and researcher William J. Worden, Ph.D., makes a distinction between grief counseling and grief therapy. He believes counseling involves helping people facilitate uncomplicated, or normal, grief to a healthy completion of the tasks of grieving within a reasonable time frame. Grief therapy, on the other hand, utilizes specialized techniques that help people with abnormal or complicated grief reactions and helps them resolve the conflicts of separation. He believes grief therapy is most appropriate in situations that fall into three categories: (1) The complicated grief reaction is manifested as prolonged grief; (2) the grief reaction manifests itself through some masked somatic or behavioral symptom; or (3) the reaction is manifested by an exaggerated grief response. Does a person need "specialized" grief counseling or grief therapy when grief, as a normal reaction to loss, takes place? Are people not able to cope with loss as they have in the past or are individuals not being provided the same type of support they received in previous generations? Individual and family geographic living arrangements are

different in the twenty-first century than in past years. People have moved from rural to urban centers, technology has altered the lifespan, and the health care decisions are becoming not only more prevalent but often more difficult. Cost and legal issues become factors in some cases. Today, ethics committees in hospitals and long-term care facilities are available to help families and health care providers arrive at common ground. Traumatic and violent deaths have also changed the bereavement landscape. What had helped individuals and families in the past in many situations has eroded and the grief and bereavement specialist, or the persons, agencies, and organizations providing those services, is doing so in many cases out of default. Grief counseling is used not only by individuals and families, but in many situations by schools, agencies, and organizations, and in some cases by entire communities affected by death.

Can Sources Other than Professionals Act As Counselors?


Social worker Dennis M. Reilly states, "We do not necessarily need a whole new profession of . . . bereavement counselors. We do need more thought, sensitivity, and activity concerning this issue on the part of the existing professional groups; that is, clergy, funeral directors, family therapists, nurses, social workers and physicians" (Worden 1991, p. 5). Although there are professionals who specialize in grief counseling and grief therapy, there are still many opportunities for the bereaved to seek support elsewhere. Churches, synagogues, community centers, and neighborhoods were (and in many cases still are) the "specialized" support persons. Cultural traditions and religious rituals for many bereaved persons did and still do meet their needs. In the past, friends, family, and support systems listened to one another and supported individuals through the death of their loved ones, during the rituals after the death, and during the days, months, and years after the death. Although American culture is used to having immediate gratification, not everyone processes grief at the same rate. Some cope and adapt to a death sooner, while others, based on similar factors and variables, may take a longer period of time.

Grief counseling and grief therapy are not for everyone and are not "cures" for the grieving process. Counseling and therapy are opportunities for those who seek support to help move from only coping to being transformed by the lossto find a new "normal" in their lives and to know that after a loved one dies one does not remove that person from his or her life, but rather learns to develop a new relationship with the person now that he or she has died. In A Time to Grieve: Mediations for Healing after the Death of a Loved One (1994) the writer Carol Crandall states, "You don't heal from the loss of a loved one because time passes; you heal because of what you do with the time" (Staudacher 1994, p. 92).

Goals of Grief Counseling and Therapy


Professionals believe that there are diverse frameworks and approaches to goals and outcomes of the grief counseling and therapy process. Robert Neimeyer believes, "The grief counselor acts as a fellow traveler [with the bereaved] rather than consultant, sharing the uncertainties of the journey, and walking alongside, rather than leading the grieving individual along the unpredictable road toward a new adaptation" (Neimeyer 1998, p. 200). Janice Winchester Nadeau clearly reminds grief counselors and grief therapists that it is not only individuals who are grieving, but entire family systems. A person is not only grieving independently within the family system, but the interdependence within the family also affects one's actions and reactions. According to Worden there are three types of changes that help one to evaluate the results of grief therapy. These are changes in: (1) subjective experience, (2) behavior, and (3) symptom relief.Objectives

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