Family Focused Grief Therapy: A Model of Family-Centered Care during Palliative Care and Bereavement

By David W. Kissane; Sidney Bloch | Go to book overview

5 A typical encounter
of therapy

Laying out our theoretical model as we have done runs the risk of it being followed unswervingly as if it were a technical manual, like a recipe book. We will therefore illustrate the model's application by providing an account of the progress of a representative family. We have chosen a typical family from our sample, but one that was unremarkable in many ways – deliberately so, as it seemed important to demonstrate the common features of the solid work done in everyday therapy. The story is that of a middle-aged man, who had received conventional treatment for lung cancer. The family was seen on nine occasions, six before his death and three during the family's period of bereavement. Identifying features of this family have been altered to safeguard the family's privacy. We shall describe each session, as well as the related thoughts of the peer review team as they discussed the therapist's process notes and observations.

We do not suggest that what follows is 'ideal' therapy. Therapists bring their own style to the work. In reporting on this family, we have retained the therapist's way of expressing herself to ensure authenticity; other ways of intervening are not necessarily better or worse.


The family

Tom Brown was aged 47 when his lung cancer was diagnosed. His hope for a cure through surgery was dashed within a year with the detection of a recurrence. He was on antidepressants, which his oncologist thought had improved his emotional state. The prognosis however was stated to be of the order of 'only months'. Tom was attending an oncology service for palliative chemotherapy when we invited him and his family to participate in our screening procedure. The resultant profile pointed to a sullen pattern

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