Grief and Loss Psychotherapy


In a previous post we explored the theory and practice of working with emotional states in psychotherapy. Here we will continue this discussion.

While advancement in brain studies and psychotherapy healing methods with emotional states has come a long way over the past couple of decades, many people notice that counselling with grief and loss remains fairly similar. This approach relies on allowing space and time through supportive talk therapy. Talk therapy has its place and can be very respectful of where people are at in the moment.

However, many clients who come forward to a psychotherapist tend to say something like, “I have tried psychology and counselling for years. I have talked through my problems endlessly, and nothing has changed.” A psychotherapist might then say, “What would you change if you had the chance?” In a word, this is the focus of psychotherapy – co-creating dynamic change when people are ready for this.

Past work with war veterans happens to be one of the areas where advanced methods in redirecting emotional states had its origins in psychotherapy. Common are cases where people tend to be completely overwhelmed by trauma, loss and grief. Combined with powerful phobic or fear-based responses, emotional states that follow extreme trauma can be entirely debilitating and overpowering. In many cases these states can remain active over extended time frames, even over decades.

In these more advanced and ongoing cases certain clients become tired with the status quo and keep seeking. They seek emotional relief in natural ways without chemical intervention. Through experience they know therapy works to a certain degree, but they search for a therapist with more skills who can help them in ways that most therapists cannot.

Studies and research into these types of advanced methods in psychotherapy is unfortunately not robust because of existing funding regimes and the politics of research in western countries. Without empirical evidenced based outcomes many professionals continue to be skeptical and rely on standard drug and therapy combination talk therapy methods.

In spite of this frustrating anti-intellectual environment that continues to forget the clinical wisdom of case studies all the way back to Freud’s early days, along with the now robust collective wisdom found in strong clinical analysis and psychodynamic theory, advanced methods in emotional state healing and facilitating change appears possible and is well documented.


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