1.75 CE Credits Available
Grief Therapy Masterclass Volume 1: A Meaning-Based Model
by Robert A. Neimeyer & Carolyn Ng
Working with grieving clients is one of the most technically challenging and emotionally demanding clinical endeavors, one for which most clinicians are neither formally trained nor prepared. This video, the first in a breakthrough four-volume series, will help clinicians move beyond outdated notions and methods or simply “waiting for time to heal,” so they can work confidently, compassionately, and effectively with clients who have been overwhelmed by loss.
Loss is a frequent visitor, shattering our clients’ sense of how life should be, leaving them struggling to re-gain control, and to put the pieces of their lives back together. In this first volume, renowned grief expert Robert Neimeyer lays out the cornerstone principles of his meaning-based model, clearly explaining the three areas in which clients frequently get stuck: The event story of the death, the relationship with the deceased, and the struggle for a new sense of identity after the loss. Then you’ll see him bring these principles to life as he works with actual clients, demonstrating how to effectively assist them in moving forward through the grief process.

Neimeyer makes the case that therapy with these clients requires a willingness to accompany them into “the heart of darkness” and to then earn the opportunity to walk with them toward the light. By watching him work in a resilience-informed way with clients who have experienced a variety of losses — some traumatic — you will learn effective ways to help them regulate their emotions, rescript or rewrite their relationship with the deceased, and redefine their sense of identity following the loss.

Grieving is not a linear process, so grief therapy cannot be defined by a simplistic stage model or reduced to formulaic interventions. By watching Neimeyer at work and then discussing his process and techniques with Psychotherapy.net founder Victor Yalom, you will learn to “lead from one step behind” as you fully assess your client’s needs and tailor effective interventions based on what they’ve lost, how they’ve lost, and who they are. Additionally, you will learn to approach grief counseling from a humanistic rather than a psychopathological perspective, develop a roadmap for how to deal with the complexities and nuances of grief and grief therapy, create a safe and grounded space for clients to share their grief, and recognize when and how to use trauma informed interventions.  

What therapists are saying…

“Robert Neimeyer is an extraordinary therapist and teacher, and his understanding of how to work with clients in grief is profound. Any therapist will benefit from watching this course—myself included—and at the advanced age of 92 it’s a delight to discover I still have things to learn about the the field I have devoted my professional life to.”
—Irvin Yalom, MD,Psychotherapist, Writer, and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, Stanford University
“Dr Neimeyer is a master therapist. In these videos one not only sees sensitivity, skill, and knowledge, but moreover a model of the therapuetic process at its best. This is an excellent learning tool both for experienced therapists as well as those newly engaged in the field.”
— Dr. Kenneth J Doka, PhD, The Hospice Foundation of America and The College of New Rochelle
“Grief Therapy Masterclass Volume 1 is a great overview of working with clients overwhelmed by loss. It includes specific examples and context for navigating grief. I particularly appreciated the positionality of the clinician's role in being a guide rather than a sage, because as much as we know (and might learn through this course), operating as a guide shares power and helps us work alongside individuals in their journey to find new meaning after loss.”
— Kelly Farrish, Doctoral Candidate, LCSW-C
“Grief Therapy Masterclass with Dr. Bob Neimeyer is an invaluable resource for clinicians seeking advanced skills in navigating the complexities of grief and loss. Dr. Neimeyer’s wealth of expertise shines through as he delivers insightful strategies and practical techniques that serve to guide and support clients through the grief process.”
— Katie Atkins, Clinical Assistant Professor, The Family Institute at Northwestern University
In Depth
CE Test
Death and loss are inevitable parts of our existence, and grief is a natural process, the way we adapt to a fundamental change in the people and experiences we are attached to. Although therapists may think they know how to work with grief by using their general therapeutic skills, the theoretical model provided here, and the various techniques demonstrated are going to help them become more effective in working with grief, allowing them to accomplish a lot in a short period of time without that sense of getting stuck in the client’s pain and confusion.

For Neimeyer, the fundamental tasks of therapy with grieving clients include bracing (supporting them in the face of a story that has eroded the foundation of their life), pacing (guiding them along without re-traumatizing them by hurrying) and facing (prolonged exposure while we accompany them). Rather than helping clients relinquish their attachment to the lost loved one, you will learn how to reaffirm their attachment security to the deceased and make meaning of their loss. You will become not only inspired and affirmed, but more creative and spontaneous in grief therapy as you watch him work live with grieving clients.

In this first volume, you’ll be introduced to the following clients:

Carolyn is stuck in both the event story and relational complications surrounding the loss of her father to COVID during the pandemic, under circumstances where she could not be with him. Despite not being present, she is plagued by vivid images of his death and struggles with emotional regulation. After establishing a safe environment for Carolyn to share her story, Neimeyer picks up on cues that indicate her grief is further complicated by her relationship with her dad, as well as the necessary demands of the outside world.

Erica is reeling in the aftermath of her military husband’s suicide death. Together with Neimeyer, she shifts between three strands of the story surrounding this horrific loss: the external narrative (what’s actually happening), the internal narrative (what’s happening within her emotionally as she tries to make sense of the event), and the reflexive narrative (her attempt to make meaning of what’s happening and the unresolved questions that remain).

Christina and her husband were living in the Philippines when COVID descended on the world. Unable to travel home to Europe to give birth to triplets conceived through fertility treatments, the couple lost two of their three babies — one in utero, and another, Melina, post-partum after contracting a deadly bacterium from the equipment used to express Christina’s breastmilk. The remaining child, Zoe, suffered irremediable brain damage from the same bacteria that claimed the life of her sister, Melina. Unable to see or hold her babies, or visit with her husband due to forced bed rest and COVID restrictions, Christina was alone and reeling from her losses. Through presence and deep compassion, Neimeyer steers close by her side as she braids a narrative of grief tinged with grievance as well as gratitude and struggles to find her identity now that the narrative of grief dominates.

Loretta, age 80, while described by Neimeyer as a “case study in adaptive grieving,” is stuck in the aftermath of the loss of her husband of 56 years. Here she introduces us to her husband, Lou, and with Neimeyer’s gentle prompts, paints a picture of him so clear you can almost see him by her side. Clearly Loretta cherishes and takes pride in the story of Lou’s life, braided together with her own. But aside from taking consolation in memory, how can she actively draw on the relationship as a resource in the present and leaning into the future?

Lisa is grieving her only child, Ray Ray, who was murdered in a convenience store shortly before she began therapy with Neimeyer’s colleague, Carolyn Ng, whom we join in their third session. There she struggles to understand why, in the absence of any seeming motive, he was killed, and it soon becomes clear how tightly woven her identity was with Ray Rays. Ng compassionately supports her as she questions who she is now that she’s no longer Ray Ray’s mom.

Regardless of your therapeutic orientation and fear of feeling overwhelmed by the emotional weight of grief therapy, you will guide these clients confidently and effectively forward along their journey of grief.  

Length of video: 1:48:43

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-607-2

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-607-3

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 online and onsite training internationally in grief therapy. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has conducted extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention. He has received numerous awards for his scholarly and clinical contributions. Most recently, he has been granted Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the International Network for Personal Meaning.

Neimeyer has published 35 books, including New Techniques of Grief Therapy: Bereavement and Beyond and The Handbook of Grief Therapies, the latter with Edith Steffen and Jane Milman. The author of over 600 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process, both in his published work and through his frequent professional workshops for national and international audiences. Please visit the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition website to learn more about live online training, pre-recorded online training and on-site training opportunities.   Carolyn Ng, PsyD, FT, MMSAC, RegCLR, maintains a private practice, Anchorage for Loss and Transition, for training, supervision and therapy in Singapore, while also serving as an Associate Director of the Portland Institute. Previously she served as Principal Counselor with the Children’s Cancer Foundation in Singapore, specializing in cancer-related palliative care and bereavement counselling. She is a master clinical member and approved supervisor with the Singapore Association for Counselling (SAC) and a Fellow in Thanatology with the Association of Death Education and Counselling (ADEC), USA, as well as a consultant to a cancer support and bereavement ministry in Sydney, Australia. She is certified in Solution-Focused Brief Therapy and Narrative Therapy and holds an MA in Pastoral Ministry from Trinity Theological Seminary in the USA. She is also a trained end-of-life doula and advanced care planning facilitator. 

CE credits: 1.75

Learning Objectives:

  • describe Robert Neimeyer’s theoretical approach to working clinically with grieving clients
  • integrate elements of Neimeyer’s approach into your case conceptualizations
  • plan treatment for grieving clients using some of Neimeyer’s clinical techniques

Bibliography available upon request

This course is offered for ASWB ACE credit for social workers. See complete list of CE approvals here

© 2023

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