2019 International Educator Tour

Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide & Perth 2019

Darcy L. Harris, R.N., R.S.W., Ph.D., FT

Darcy L. Harris, R.N., R.S.W., Ph.D., FT, is an Associate Professor and the Thanatology Coordinator at King’s University College in London, Canada, where she also maintains a private clinical practice specialising in issues related to change, loss, and transition. Dr. Harris developed the undergraduate degree program in Thanatology at King’s University College.

She has served on the board of directors of the Association for Death Education and Counselling and is a current member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. She is a series editor for Routledge Publishing Company’s Death, Dying, and Bereavement Series. Her publications include Counting our Losses: Reflecting on Change, Loss, and Transition in Everyday Life (Routledge), Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice (Routledge), Principles and Practice of Grief Counselling (Springer), and The Handbook of Social Justice in Loss and Grief: Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (Routledge). Her new book, Non-Death Loss and Grief:  Context and Clinical Implications (Routledge), will be released at the end of this year.

Workshop Day One: Foundations and Current Issues in Loss and Grief Support

Working with individuals who struggle with issues related to loss and grief immerses us into a very dynamic and diverse field, with new information, approaches, and trends arising on a regular basis. Some of the new areas of focus in grief and loss work include changing ideas about how to define grief and how the support of grieving individuals is different from assessment and intervention models that are designed for working with clinical populations. Related to this topic is the ability to know when the grieving process has crossed the line into a potentially harmful and repetitive process that defies relief.

Another trend is the growth of an increasingly older demographic, which has implications for issues related to dependency, non-death losses, and the juggling of everyday life as family systems now may readily span four generations. In addition, models of grief have, in the past, tended to focus on individualistic aspects of grief, without considering the social context and the importance of social norms, expectations, and policies on the experience of grief.

In this workshop, we will review the recent research and literature that inform our current understandings about grief and loss, as well as explore how approaches to grief and loss need to adapt to changes in our population and care environments. Special attention will be given to the clinical implications for professionals who work with individuals who experience a wide range and variety of losses. 

Learning Objectives:

1. Define and describe the foundational components of grief and how social norms affect the grieving process.
2. Explore different types of loss and the unique forms of grief that accompany them.
3. Review current research and practice models relevant to supporting grieving individuals.
4. Differentiate between a supportive model versus an interventionist model of responding to grief.
5. Identify when grief has gone awry and the clinical practice implications when this occurs.

Workshop Day Two: Clinical Implications and Supportive Therapies for Grieving Individuals

In the context of a supportive relationship, clinicians often draw upon therapeutic “tools” and techniques that may be helpful in facilitating the grieving process of those in their care. There are many diverse ways for bereaved individuals to share their thoughts, feelings, and stories, and having a variety of approaches can help to match the needs of clients with techniques that are congruent with their way of being in the world.

In this workshop, we will explore differing ways of working with clients and their grief in the context of cultivating focus and presence when working with grieving individuals whose lives are punctuated by intensity, uncertainty, and pain. The context of these approaches will be grounded in compassion-based therapies, which can be helpful to individuals who are suffering from intense grief. The role of compassion-based approaches for the clinician’s self care will also be introduced.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the role of presence in the therapeutic relationship with grieving individuals.
  2. Consider ways to cultivate the ability to focus, regulate emotion, and cultivate distress tolerance for clinicians who work with clients who are suffering.
  3. Explore creative approaches to supporting and facilitating the expression of grief.
  4. Identify different possible therapeutic approaches with diverse clients.
  5. Examine the role of compassionate response for both professionals and the grieving individuals that they support.


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