Helpful Aspects of Bereavement Counselling
Farrell 2001 wrote that the death of an individual was perhaps the most profoundly destabilizing event with which we all must deal. He theorized that if feelings were not dealt with or treated that long term prolonged grief disorder could result. Symptoms of this include depression, anxiety, hypertension and substance abuse. Social isolation, loneliness and a reluctance to form new attachments could also occur.
People have found counselling to be a help with grief due to the following factors:
- Independence of the Counsellor – People can sometimes worry about upsetting the people in immediate family and want to protect them. Having a counselor who is outside the family and social network can therefore be helpful.
- Counsellor’s Skilled Listening – a counsellor who is attentive, welcoming, demonstrating competence and being to the point is of the most help.
- Non-Directivity – the client being allowed to take the lead and to talk on a range of issues bereavement and non bereavement related. People feel differently from week to week and so to be able to use sessions to talk about whatever is needed is generally useful.
- Having unhelpful thinking challenged – being encouraged to think from a wider perspective and talking through feelings of guilt and anger. When grieving it is easy to see everything as being bad and to have no hope for the future – talking things through can help people to realise that this is very rarely the case.
- Having responses to grief normalized through education and the therapist disclosing their own experience of dealing with grief. People sometimes feel as though their feelings are weird and that they are going mad….. it is helpful to discuss these feelings and understand how they fit with the grieving process.
It is important to say here that everyone’s grieving process is different and because of this we are always the expert in our own healing process.
People can find it very difficult to talk about grief and loss openly and honestly and generally as time moves on it appears to be a social norm that we are ‘recovered’. Very rarely is this the case and so this can lead to feelings of isolation. This is where counselling comes into it’s own as a means of helping as there are no expectations.
Helpful Aspects of Bereavement Counselling: An interpretative phenomenological analysis – Gurid Simonsen and Mick Cooper