2.00 CE Credits Available
Grief Therapy Masterclass Volume 4: Reinventing the Self After Loss
by Robert A. Neimeyer & Carolyn Ng
Therapists working with grief may become overly focused on the loss, missing out on growth opportunities for the client. This video, the final in our four-volume series, will further prepare clinicians to work with grieving clients by guiding them in the reconstruction of their identity and relationships as they begin to integrate their loss.    
In this volume, we explore the third of Neimeyer’s three areas of fixation, the “personal story of the self,” or identity, and how that can be expanded and transformed rather than constricted following loss. Counselors working in this challenging domain may attune so closely to the heartbreaking grief that they miss the opportunity to help their clients re-author their own narrative in a way that leads to personal and interpersonal growth. By watching Neimeyer in actual therapy sessions, you will learn to listen between the lines for what he calls “sparkling moments of opportunity” for post-traumatic growth, and in the process begin to develop your own trove of grief-related therapeutic tools, including curating memories, creative writing, visualization, and journaling.

You'll witness Neimeyer’s and his colleague Carolyn Ng work with clients who have had their foundations shaken by their respective losses, and yet are beginning to emerge from their grief with new possibilities in their lives. Discussions throughout with Psychotherapy.net founder, Victor Yalom will provide you with deeper insights into Neimeyer’s non-anxious, experiential approach. You’ll learn by example how to be responsively present with the grieving client so you can explore the risk and protective factors underlying their grief, recruit their inner and outer resources, and assist them in realigning rather than relinquishing their relationship with the deceased. You will also appreciate the importance of learning from, rather than teaching your clients how to grieve, so they can begin to transform their loss into gain.

What therapists are saying…

“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 and will be incorporated into my private practice work!”
—Jill A. Schott, PhD, Owner, Sacred Spaces Counseling Center
“I found volume 4 of the Grief Therapy Masterclass extremely beneficial because it clearly demonstrates how the meaning-making process unfolds after experiencing a loss trauma. It expressed how important it is for therapists to listen for exceptions which may reveal the fruit bearing seeds left behind from the grief experience to support the client’s identity reconstruction. Thus, therapists, students, and professors can use this course to enhance their overall understanding of reinventing the self with a renewed purpose.”
— Katina Oliver, Counselor Education and Supervision, Capella University
“Grief Therapy Masterclass is the first of its kind for adequately training clinicians to address grief counseling. Dr. Neimeyer masterfully demonstrates how to make meaning and navigate the different phases of working with clients in mourning. As an instructor I appreciate the attention given to different types of loss and how specific skills were showcased to address each. I will be incorporating these materials into my graduate level grief counseling course!”
— Stephanie Hall Rutledge, PhD, Emory & Henry College
“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
In Depth
CE Test
Grieving is a developmental process including the development of our client’s “self-narrative.” To a point, there is a relationship between the degree of suffering one has encountered and the amount of growth that they may experience, beyond which they may shut down and/or retreat. In that mid-range of suffering, clients may be at a point where they can consider the importance of what and who has value for them and how to respond to life choices moving forward. Such is the case with the clients featured in this video as they work with Neimeyer.

This video opens with a short excerpt featuring grief therapist Carolyn Ng, who we saw earlier on, as she works with Lisa, whose only child Ray Ray was murdered, seemingly randomly, in a convenience store. As Lisa describes the horror of her son’s death and how it has derailed her life, Ng shines light on a moment, an opportunity, to note how Lisa has also taken the opportunity to present herself differently to people in her life — from a lifelong presentation of guardedness to one of greater authenticity. Together, they grow Lisa’s story from one of profound loss to one of personal and interpersonal growth and possibility.

Carolyn is stuck in both the event story and unfinished business surrounding the loss of her father to COVID during the pandemic, under circumstances where she could not be with him. She carries forward traumatizing memories of his death. Even more so, however, her unfinished business with him centers around not only guilt, but also the identification she had with him around music, and how this resulted in her life being colonized by her academic career in the musical field. Through his attunement to her implicit questioning about her identity and markers for self-change, Neimeyer helps Carolyn to untangle the unhealthy attachment to her father, enlist him as an ally, and finally share her desire and plan for an expanded life with broader meaning beyond music.

Erica is reeling in the aftermath of her military husband’s suicide death while on deployment in Afghanistan. All the more traumatizing was that her husband conveyed his intentions, albeit somewhat cryptically, through a text message. Initially, she and Neimeyer did some redemptive restorative storytelling by weaving together the three strands of the story — the external narrative, the internal narrative, and the reflexive narrative. However, she was left feeling confused about who they were as a couple, so with Neimeyer’s help, she begins to question who she is now that her husband is gone, considers shedding parts of herself that were not fulfilling prior to her husband’s death, and rebuilding her self-story and her life. As she begins to unravel this “beautiful problem,” as Neimeyer describes it, Erica’s posttraumatic growth includes continued treatment, returning to school, becoming a counselor, and reflecting on what she wants in a relationship.

So, join Robert Neimeyer as you move beyond simplistic theories, rigid protocols, and narrow definitions, to expand your knowledge and skills base and begin guiding your own clients through and out of the labyrinth of loss and grieving.  

Length of video: 2:07:54

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-610-2

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-610-3

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: 2

Learning Objectives:

  • describe Neimeyer’s third area of fixation, the self, and its clinical significance in grief therapy
  • develop case-conceptualizations that integrate the client’s search for an expanded self-narrative
  • build treatment plans that incorporate Neimeyer’s creative/expressive techniques for identity reconstruction

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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