Large Collection of Practical Techniques in Grief Therapy

By Jones, Brendon | Journal of Psychology and Theology, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

Large Collection of Practical Techniques in Grief Therapy


Jones, Brendon, Journal of Psychology and Theology


Neimeyer, R. A. (Ed.). (2012).

Techniques of grief therapy: Creative practices for counseling the bereaved. New York, NY: Routledge. Paper. 388 pp. $46.95. ISBN. 978-0-415-80725-8.

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of Memphis. He has published over two dozen books, among which are Constructivist Psychotherapy Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society. Dr. Neimeyer is a past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, and is currently the editor of Death Studies. In addition, he has an active clinical practice in Memphis.

Exposition

Over the past three decades, Dr. Neimeyer's prolific writing career has included the publication of 25 books, as well as nearly 400 book chapters and articles. In this his latest book, he serves as editor of a collection of nearly 100 different therapeutic techniques for counseling the grieving and bereaved, with the stated goal to "present a rich and representative smorgasbord of methods for engaging grief and its complications with greater creativity and awareness of alternatives" (p. xvii). In addition to this primary goal, a secondary goal was the integration of research and practice, aiming to "foster an interchange between the field of bereavement research and scholarship ... and of clinical and counseling practice" (p. xvi). To accomplish these goals, the edited work enlists contributions from 86 different authors, stemming from diverse clinical backgrounds including psychiatry, psychology, social work, nursing, and art therapy (6 different authors, from diverse clinical backgrop. 369).

Part I of the book is a preliminary section intended to establish a therapeutic framework for the diverse techniques that follow in the rest of the book. Specific procedures are situated within the relational context of providing a containing presence (Ch. 1), an empathic stance (Ch. 2), and an attitude of mindfulness (Ch. 3). A final orienting chapter (Ch. 4) offers a "two-track model of bereavement" (TTMB) for tracking a clients "biopsychosocial functioning" and "relationship to the deceased" (p. 20). The TTMB can be a useful assessment tool to aid in treatment planning and selecting specific interventions.

Parrs II-XVII of the book offer 90 brief chapters that present 90 different techniques for clinical work involving bereavement or grief. Regarding terminology, Neimeyer states explicitly that he is using the term technique in a broad sense so as to include not only "specific procedures," but also "modalities and ways of working with particular clinical issues, or more rarely, certain kinds of losses" (p. xvii). In the large number and great diversity of techniques represented, the typical clinician will encounter both familiar and novel methods. Examples of familiar therapeutic approaches and interventions, herein applied to grief work, include: diary keeping (Ch. 5), psychotropic medication (Ch. 8), mindfulness training (Ch. 9), visualization (Ch. 12), sandtray work (Ch. 16), narrative retelling (Ch. 22), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (Ch. 24), behavioral activation (Ch. 28), assertiveness training (Ch. 30), acceptance and commitment therapy (Ch. 34), schema therapy (Ch. 36), directed journaling (Ch. 42), and chair work (Ch. 69). The typical reader will also find less familiar techniques with provocative names such as: prescriptive photomontage (Ch. 53), commemorative flag (Ch. 60), memory boxes (Ch. 63), workplace study circle (Ch. 83), kindness project (Ch. 84), barefoot walkabout (Ch. 88), and memory boats (Ch. 90).

With the exception of the first few orienting chapters, every chapter in the book is organized in the same manner and consists of four sections. …

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