After losing a loved one, therapy can help you process your emotions. Read on to learn what to expect in grief counseling and whether it’s right for you.
THE FIVE STAGES OF GRIEF
The first reaction is denial. In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, they become frustrated, especially at proximate individuals.
Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
During the fourth stage, the individual despairs at the recognition of their mortality. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.
ABOUT GRIEF COUNSELING
Grief counseling is a specialized type of therapy that aims at helping people who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Sessions focus on assisting people with working through their sadness, dealing with lingering guilt, and learning the coping mechanisms that can help them move forward with their lives.
Shock, anger, sadness, guilt, and anxiety are common feelings during the grieving process, and they can be overwhelming. Occasionally there are no emotions, there is only numbness. Some people find it difficult to cope with their loss and believe they'll never be happy again.
Grief counseling offers support at this challenging time. It is a form of therapy that helps the bereaved to explore and process distressing and confusing feelings. Grief counseling does not follow the same timeline with every person.
Grief counseling is not a usually a permanent therapy. Grief counseling is recommended for anyone who has lost a loved one. Young or old, this form of therapy works for anyone working through loss–whether that’s a parent, sibling, spouse, or friend.
TYPES OF THERAPY
In Individual Therapy, the dialogue is usually reflective of two experiences—the client’s and the therapist’s. Individual therapy promotes a warm, open, flexible therapeutic relationship, which over time helps to develop new strengths and skills for living through and beyond loss. Some clients may require time-intensive grief therapy that is focused exclusively on their individual needs. Many aspects of grief and mourning are explored in the context of an open dialogue utilizing the seasoned experience of the therapist along with the client’s unique range and depth of responses. In addition, other life issues often emerge in the dialogue as grief touches upon many other areas including relationships, work, and other historical issues. Thus the grief and life adjustment processes intertwine with the focal point of the therapy oscillating at times from one to the other.
Individual therapy is often indicated for people in crisis or who are experiencing some of the following: pre-existing mental health conditions, trauma, multiple stressors, or substance abuse issues, all of which often complicate the grieving process.
There may be instances—depending on the timing of group sessions—in which individual and group interventions can be appropriately used as a two-fold approach. Individuals seeking their own treatment who also want to meet with peers in a group context (and visa versa) might find the therapies are effective as compliments to each other. As always, the dialogue between therapist and client is the starting point for such recommendations.
In Group Therapy, participants learn about the grieving process and help themselves and others form a bridge to the future. Mourning is most ideal when it is expanded into a social experience. Group participation provides an opportunity for social support from other bereaved individuals who can relate to the struggles of loss. Group therapy helps persons who have suffered the loss of a significant relationship: parent, sibling, spouse, child, or other close relative or friend.
All of our groups are led by professionals, and we do not offer self-help groups. Group therapy helps grievers experiment with trying to relate to people differently in a safe environment, with a therapist present to intervene and guide as needed. Additionally, group therapy allows you to learn from the experiences of others, and to better understand how people very different from yourself view the world and interact. Our group members share and agree to the values of privacy and confidentiality. Group participation requires patience, listening skills, constructively giving and receiving feedback, being on the occasional “hot seat,” and the ability to leave some issues unfinished, given time and other constraints of the group therapy process.
Although grief is a normal human experience, each person’s grief is subtly different. Our group therapy helps you understand your loss and express the many feelings that come with change. Let our group therapy process help you regain your balance as you learn to re-engage in life in a new way.
If you’re considering therapy for grief and bereavement, please know you are not alone. Experiencing grief following the death of a loved one can be one of the most difficult and stressful events any of us experience in life. Thrive Counseling can help.