Presenter: Dr Robert Neimeyer, Dr Phyllis Kosminsky, Dr Paul Boelen, Dr Sheldon Solomon and Dr Emmy van Deurzen
Recorded: Monday 13th July – Friday 17th July 2020
Intervening in Meaning: New Directions in Grief Therapy: Viewed from a constructivist perspective, a central process in grieving is the attempt to reaffirm or reconstruct a world of meaning that has been challenged by loss. As research with bereaved young people, parents and older adults indicates, both natural and violent death losses can leave mourners struggling to process the event story of the death and to make sense of its implications for their lives, and to access the back story of their relationship with their deceased loved one in a way that reaffirms their sense of secure attachment. This presentation will summarise Dr Robert Neimeyers recent studies of the psychological and social struggle to make sense of loss, outline several validated measures of meaning-making processes and outcomes, and describe current research to evaluate the impact of novel meaning-oriented interventions to help people find growth through grief.
Attachment and Loss: From Practice to Theory and Back Again: Presentations like this one offer abundant opportunities to learn, to share, and to reflect on what we have come to understand about grief, loss, and the work of providing support to those affected by painful life changes. They also provide a forum for discussion of the limitations of what we know – and of what it is possible for us to know – about the deepest, most profound and most personal of human experiences. In this keynote, webinar, the speaker will present a narrative of her 25 years of work with the bereaved, with the explicit goal of illustrating how her understanding of grief, her therapeutic approach and her views regarding the role of a grief therapist have evolved throughout the course of her career. Factors in this evolution include the de facto, continuous collection of data on the grief experience that clinical work provides, and efforts to make sense of this data by turning, on a regular basis, to the literature on the roots of normative and complicated grief and on progress in addressing the needs of the bereaved. In her book, Attachment Informed Grief Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide to Foundations and Applications, co-authored by John R. Jordan and published in 2016, Dr. Kosminsky passes on what she has learned about how attachment shapes the development of the self, the character of our relationships, and our response to loss. Learning, like life, is a continuous process of unfolding and growth, and she looks forward to engaging with participants in this webinar.
Emotional Problems After Traumatic Bereavement: Traumatic bereavement refers to the sudden, unexpected death of a loved one under circumstances that are unnatural and traumatising. Examples are losses due to traffic accidents, terrorist attacks, suicide, and homicide. Traumatic losses can lead to severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and prolonged grief disorder (PGD). In this presentation, Paul Boelen will discuss the nature and prevalence of different types of emotional problems that may follow traumatic bereavement. Secondly, he will discuss risk factors and protective factors involved in the development and persistence of such problems. Finally, psychological interventions that can be used to treat emotional problems following traumatic loss will be discussed, with a specific focus on cognitive behavioural interventions. All these issues will be connected with research on the consequences of homicide, the MH17 plane crash, and traffic accidents that Paul has been involved in.
The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life: The uniquely human fear of death has a pervasive effect on human beings' thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Humans manage the terror of death by adhering to culturally constructed beliefs about reality that provide a sense that one is a person of value in a world of meaning, and thus eligible for either literal or symbolic immortality. The quest for immortality underlies some of humankind’s most noble achievements. It also, however, engenders some of our most ignominious affectations, including: hostility and disdain for people with different beliefs; attraction to ideological demagogues; indifference to, or contempt for, the natural environment; and, the mindless pursuit of material possessions which, if unchecked, may render humans the first form of life responsible for their own extinction. This presentation will share an overview of these ideas and empirical work that corroborates them, and then consider the implications of these notions for grief and bereavement processes and practices.
Rising From Shattered Lives: Political and social events can affect individuals profoundly, revolutionising their lives in such a way that their entire existence is in question, not just physically, but also emotionally, mentally, socially, culturally and spiritually. Such existential shattering is most obvious in the stories of refugees and survivors of war. Emmy’s experience in working with Holocaust survivors and refugees from war torn areas, served as a blueprint in understanding the plight of some of the five million people who found themselves caught up in one of the most significant political challenges in the UK, which was the 2016 Brexit referendum. Emmy will draw illustrations from her work in a special emotional support project (ESSE), for the EU27 citizens who were most affected. Some of these people were struggling with the shock of a shattered existence, which put everything in question: their life choices and values, their identity, their livelihood, their safety, their future and the unity of their families. They were isolated, bereft and in despair and many benefited greatly from an existential method in tackling their crisis to rise again. In the pandemic these people have shown exemplary resilience, thus demonstrating that they have learnt from their experience of facing existential crisis and have derived resilience from.
Presenter: Dr Roberty Neimeyer
Dr Robert Neimeyer: Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, and maintains an active consulting and coaching practice. He also directs the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, which provides training internationally in grief therapy. Neimeyer has published 30 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy: Assessment and Intervention and Grief and the Expressive Arts: Practices for Creating Meaning, the latter with Barbara Thompson, and serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies. The author of over 500 articles and book chapters and a frequent workshop presenter, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process. Neimeyer served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counselling (ADEC) and Chair of the International Work Group for Death, Dying, & Bereavement. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, made a Fellow of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and given Lifetime Achievement Awards by both the Association for Death Education and Counselling and the International Network on Personal Meaning.
Presenter: Dr Phyllis Kosminsky
Phyllis Kosminsky, PhD, FT, is a clinical social worker in private practice and at the Centre for Hope in Darien, Connecticut, where her work focuses on grief, loss and trauma. Dr. Kosminsky has written on a range of topics related to bereavement and loss and lectures frequently on these subjects to professional and lay audiences. Her first book, Getting Back to Life When Grief Won't Heal, (McGraw-Hill, 2007) provides a description of the challenges that often accompany the loss of a loved one, as well as resources for moving through complicated grief. Her most recent book, with John R. Jordan, bridges the fields of attachment studies and bereavement, providing a new understanding of the etiology of complicated grief and its treatment.
Presenter: Professor Dr Paul Boelen
Prof. dr. Paul A. Boelen is full professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology at Utrecht University. His research focuses on the assessment, understanding, and treatment of emotional distress following loss and psychotrauma. Paul Boelen is also affiliated with ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre and ARQ Centrum’45, where he works as a psychotherapist. He is licensed supervisor and cognitive behavioural therapist with the Dutch Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy, Editor-in-Chief of Gedragstherapie (Dutch Journal for Behaviour Therapy), and vice-head of the postmaster training for Healthcare Psychologist in Utrecht.
Presenter: Dr Sheldon Solomon
Dr Sheldon Solomon, PHD, is the Professor of Psychology at Skidmore College. His studies of the effects of the uniquely human awareness of death on behaviour have been supported by the National Science Foundation and Ernest Becker Foundation, and were featured in the award winning documentary film Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality. He is co-author of In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror and The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life. Sheldon is an American Psychological Society Fellow, and a recipient of an American Psychological Association Presidential Citation (2007), a Lifetime Career Award by the International Society for Self and Identity (2009), and the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs Annual Faculty Award (2011).
Presenter: Dr Emmy van Deurzen
Emmy van Deurzen is a Philosopher, Counselling Psychologist and Existential Psychotherapist. She founded the School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at Regent’s University, the Society for Existential Analysis and the New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling at the Existential Academy in London, of which she continues to be Principal. She was the first chair of the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy and has chaired and directed many other organisations and institutions. Her application of philosophical ideas to psychology, psychotherapy, counselling and coaching has been instrumental in establishing the existential paradigm firmly in the UK and elsewhere in Europe and around the world. She lectures internationally and her seventeen books have been translated into well over a dozen languages. She is visiting Professor with Middlesex University and has been a professor with Regent’s College, honorary professor with Sheffield University and Schiller International University and a visiting fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge. Amongst her books are the bestsellers Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling in Practice (3d edition 2012, Psychotherapy and the Quest for Happiness (Sage, 2009) and Everyday Mysteries (2nd edition Routledge, 2010). The second edition of Paradox and Passion in Psychotherapy appeared with Wiley in 2015 and the second edition of her book on Existential Skills with Martin Adams in 2016. Her book Existential Therapy: Distinctive features, co-authored with Claire Arnold-Baker was published in 2018. She is the editor in chief of the Wiley World Handbook for Existential Therapy, which was published in 2019. She is currently writing a book on Rising from Existential Crisis for PCCS Books. (2009), and the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs Annual Faculty Award (2011).
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