3.00 CE Credits Available
Grief Therapy Masterclass Volume 3: Realigning Relationships with the Deceased
by Robert A. Neimeyer
Working with grieving clients who enjoyed a positive relationship with their lost loved one usually centers around sadness, yearning, and separation distress. This video, the third in our four-volume series, will deepen clinicians’ skills in working with this form of “adaptive grief” while also helping other clients navigate the more challenging terrain of complicated bereavement, dominated by prolonged, and debilitating loss-related symptomatology. 
In this volume we explore the second of Neimeyer’s three areas of fixation: who was lost, and the backstory of the client’s relationship with the deceased. When that relationship was generally a positive one, the clinician’s task is more straightforward: to help the grieving client maintain the bond with their loved one after they are gone. But clinicians may find it far more difficult to help clients whose relationship with the deceased was problematic, conflicted, and trauma-based, leaving them anguished, isolated, and frozen in time.

This volume focuses on Neimeyer’s fully embodied, and truly masterful work with three clients, each of whom have experienced quite different forms of loss, from “natural” age-related to traumatic and traumatizing deaths. Clinicians will also learn to move beyond the necessary, but simplistic notion of regulating their grieving client’s unwanted emotions, by using grounding techniques and emotional exploration to guide them in resolving what is broken or stressed as a function of who was lost.

Discussions throughout with Psychotherapy.net founder, Victor Yalom will provide you with deeper insights into Neimeyer’s engaging and effective approach, which will help you to recruit client resources in their darkest times, assist them in realigning rather than relinquishing their relationship with the deceased, and safely unsealing and integrating their pain. In essence, you will learn how to take cues from the real expert in the room—the client—as they meaningfully integrate their grief.   

What therapists are saying…

“In his Grief Therapy Masterclass: Advanced Skills in Working Through Loss, Dr. Neimeyer offers a deep and transformative approach to working through grief and loss. Through the use of live clinical examples and case studies, Dr. Neimeyer introduces his foundational principles of meaning-making, reconstructing attachments to loved ones and redefining who we are after loss. The class offers a powerful approach to working with grief and loss that moves away from traditional approaches by fostering a sense of healing through the lens of life unfolding.”
— Dr. Leslie Whisinnand O’Ryan, EdD, Western Illinois University
“Still reeling from the death of a loved one earlier this year, these training videos were meaningful to me both personally and professionally. Dr. Neimeyer has developed a pragmatic approach to supporting clients who are grieving that is compassionate, individualized, and trauma-informed. I really appreciated the focus on relationships with the deceased post-loss and the emphasis on reinventing oneself. Wow!”
— Amanda M. Evans, Professor, James Madison University
“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
“It was refreshing to see an approach that encourages clinicians to support comfortable change and growth when working with loss. The information is presented in such a way that the viewer is prompted to “just be” with the client on their journey of healing while providing reassurance that separating the self from that of the loved one is normal. Highly informative and practical. This will be incorporated into my private practice work!”
—Jill A. Schott, PhD, Owner, Sacred Spaces Counseling Center
In Depth
CE Test
Grieving, while a process of letting go, is also one of holding on — to a relationship with the deceased that is sustainable and gratifying, regardless of the quality of the previous attachment with that person. For Neimeyer, it is critical that clinicians help their grieving clients to integrate rather than segregate their tragedies, so they can be enlarged rather than diminished following the loss. By watching this master with three grieving clients, you learn how to sit bravely yet comfortably with grieving clients. And you will come away with a trove of evocative and creative therapeutic techniques including role play, empty chair, imaginal dialogs, letter writing, somatic awareness, and visualization that you can immediately apply in your own clinical work.

Ingrid, now 40, lost her mother— a hardworking, somewhat emotionally unavailable “iron lady” the likes of Margaret Thatcher — to cancer over two decades before. Believing that time would simply heal her wounds. However, walling off her feelings only deepened her pain and sense of isolation within her own family into what diagnosticians might consider a “Prolonged Grief Disorder.” By bringing Ingrid’s mother into the room (on the actual day of her birthday) through Neimeyer’s calming here-and-now presence, a powerful guided visualization exercise, the empty chair technique, and letter writing — the combination of which he describes as analogic listening — he supports Ingrid in the exploration of her inner world and embodied relationship with her grief. In doing so, Neimeyer helps Ingrid to stand by rather than be engulfed by her grief, relinquish its paralyzing hold on her, and enlist her mother as an ally in healing and moving forward in her life.

Christina is tormented by a nightmarishly improbable set of circumstances. A Cypriot, married to a Dutchman, she was transferred to 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 Melina.. Neimeyer invites Christina into a fully embodied and quite literally “touching” experience of the inner world she shared with Melina and that has been replaced with deep emotional pain, so she can begin to construct a living bond through which she can move forward.

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 three years earlier. Having never lived alone in her life, and feeling sad and alone, she bravely navigates her inner terrain with Neimeyer in a medical auditorium in front of 200 professionals, materializing him as a person rather than simply a problematic absence. Helping her to search within her body for cues of what it needs, and sharing loving memories of her husband, Neimeyer invites her loneliness into the room so she may have a conversation with it. Loretta poses challenging questions to this humanized form of her pain, and by doing so, Loretta begins the task of helping her to reweave the story of her life in the physical absence of her husband.

So, join Robert Neimeyer as he helps these clients weave the painful stories surrounding their losses into meaningful self-stories from which they can move forward and outward in their lives.  

Length of video: 2:49:37

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-609-9

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-609-7

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.  

CE credits: 3

Learning Objectives:

  • discuss the important role of the client’s backstory in their grieving
  • integrate the details of the client’s form of bereavement into your case conceptualizations
  • plan treatment that incorporates several creative/expressive activities

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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