Rehabilitation Counselors' Experiences with Client Death and Death Anxiety

By Hunt, Brandon; Rosenthal, David A. | The Journal of Rehabilitation, October-December 2000 | Go to article overview

Rehabilitation Counselors' Experiences with Client Death and Death Anxiety


Hunt, Brandon, Rosenthal, David A., The Journal of Rehabilitation


Based on anecdotal evidence many counselors experience the death of a client during their professional careers; however, a review of the literature provides little insight into how counselors are affected by this experience or whether they are being trained to deal with it. One area of counseling that addresses the topic of client death, although to a limited extent, is rehabilitation counseling. Because of medical and technological advances, more people are living longer with life-threatening disabilities. Regardless of whether they choose to work with clients with life-threatening or terminal illness or both, it seems likely that rehabilitation counselors will experience the death of at least one client during their professional lifetimes. Clients may die as a result of accidents, suicide, or natural causes, in addition to dying from a life-threatening illness. The longer rehabilitation counselors work in the field, the greater is the likelihood that they will experience the death of a client.

Despite the probability of increased exposure to client death when working with high-risk populations, little empirical evidence has documented the level of preparation of rehabilitation counselors regarding the effect of death or death anxiety. The research literature does show, however, that client death has an effect on counselors and on their work with clients. Some counselors may find they have more empathy for clients and a better appreciation of life as a result of a client dying (Allen & Miller, 1988), but some counselors may experience negative reactions as well. For example, negative reactions to clients with life-threatening or terminal illnesses include premature termination of the counseling relationship; feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and discomfort; denial or avoidance on the part of the counselor to death with the inevitability of a client's death; and impaired work ability and efficiency (Allen & Miller, 1988; Allen & Sawyer, 1984; Hayes & Gelso, 1993; Humphrey, 1993). Regardless, working with dying and grieving clients can make counselors confront their own losses, as well as the losses their clients are experiencing (Rando, 1984).

Allen and Jaet (1982) surveyed 198 vocational rehabilitation counselors about their experiences with client death and bereavement training. Of the respondents, 77% had experienced the death of a client during the previous four years. The range of clients who died was between one and 30, and about half had experienced the death of one to three clients during that time period. Counselors who had experienced the death of a client reported that their work and home life were affected by the death, as well as their emotional state. When asked about training received, 24% said they had received some training in death and bereavement issues, 59% thought training about death and dying issues was needed to perform their jobs, and 70% expressed a need for training specifically to work with people with terminal illness. Allen and Jaet made the call for further training in death and dying issues and expressed a need for onsite support and supervision for counselors who experienced the death of a client on their caseload.

With respect to training, Bascue, Lawrence, and Sessions (1977) surveyed 54 vocational rehabilitation counselors and found that 61% had had a client with whom they were working die in the previous 12 months. Yet 72% of these counselors reported that they had never received any training related to death education. As a result of their findings, Bascue et al. called for more death and dying education for rehabilitation counselors, stating "the liklihood [sic] that counselors face such death-related issues makes the need for training compelling" (p. 38).

Allen and Miller (1988) replicated Allen and Jaet's (1982) study by surveying 627 certified rehabilitation counselors (CRC) about their training and experiences with client death between 1982 and 1985. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Rehabilitation Counselors' Experiences with Client Death and Death Anxiety
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.