The Stepping Stones of Grief Counselling. Helping you understand your experience.

An effective bereavement counsellor walks alongside you in your grief and in your process of mourning. As each person’s experience is an individual and complex one, so too will be the counselling journey.

In his book, Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy,  J. William Worden PhD  outlines what he considers to be the principles of grief counselling. These principles are facilitated by the counsellor. I have listed some of the principles here:

Principle One: Help Actualise the loss – Often when someone dies there is a sense that it is not real. Although you may understand at some level that your loved one is dead and will not return, to become completely aware takes time. A counsellor facilitates this process by listening to you talk about your loss, including how it happened, the funeral, and talking about specific memories you have of the deceased both past and present.

Principle Two: Identify and experience the many and painful feelings of grief – Although you may come to counselling to alleviate your pain more quickly, what counselling does is help you through the pain and gain acceptance as to how you feel. A counsellor will help you through this process in a measured and balanced way, as meeting the pain head on can be overwhelming.

Principle Three: Help you accommodate to life without the deceased – How you adjust will depend on the many roles the deceased played in your life and how well you can fulfil these roles in other ways. A counsellor can help you come to your own decisions about the way forward and reduce the emotional overload which is often experienced. A word of caution: major decisions will often be discouraged, as grief and long term decisions are often not good house buddies.

Principle Four: Facilitate finding meaning in the death – Why is a question that is often asked after a death, and can be processed within counselling.

Principle Five: Find a New Emotional home for the Deceased

Principle Six: Time to grieve is facilitated in counselling. The loss of a loved one has many losses and ramifications which are not always immediately apparent. Through counselling each can be identified, seen, heard and accommodated.

Principle Seven: What is normal? An effective counsellor can help you sift through your experience to help you understand and interpret what you are going through and let you know what is a normal grief reaction.

If you would like to make an appointment for bereavement counselling, please call or email Bronwyn at Your Path Psychotherapy and Counselling.

Worden, J. William. 2003. Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, 3rd Ed, Routledge, London and New York.

Bronwyn Alleyne

Contact Details:
Bronwyn Alleyne
Registered Psychotherapist
M: 021 127 7738

Practice Address:
The Psychotherapy Centre,
Level 1, 300 Great South Road,
Greenlane, Auckland 1051

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