Complicated Grief Therapy

Complicated grief therapy as a new treatment approach

Losing a loved one or family member is one of the most distressing experiences in life. Some people usually have a normal grief period of numbness, sorrow, anger, and guilt. These feelings tend to ease with time, and eventually, they accept the loss and lead a normal life.

But for some people, the feelings of grief and loss tend to intensify and don't usually improve with time. This is known as complicated grief, and may also be referred to as persistent complex bereavement disorder. In this case, the emotions and feelings of loss are usually so long-lasting and severe that the bereaved find it hard to resume their normal life.

Some people tend to get complicated grief due to inherited traits, personality, body chemical composition, and their immediate environment.

If this happens, getting a complicated grief therapy can help you come to terms with your loss and help your reclaim peace and acceptance.

Preparing for complicated grief therapy

Going for complicated grief therapy can be a personal initiative or referral. Whatever the case, it helps to be prepared for it to understand what to expect. Before your initial appointment, make a list of your symptoms and be ready to share their effects on your daily life.

Patients will need to provide personal information, especially the changes they experience following the death of their loved ones. Your past medical information on physical and mental conditions that you have experienced is important, too. Don't forget to include medications, supplements, and vitamins that you're taking.

Also, create a list of questions you might want to ask the therapist and be prepared to answer all they questions they will ask.

How does the complicated grief therapy work?

The doctor recommends the right approach for you based on your circumstance and symptoms. For most people, the first approach is usually a type of psychological counseling known as complicated grief therapy. This therapy is similar to the techniques used in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Depending on the depth of the grief, the doctor may recommend up to 16 weeks of therapy sessions. These sessions will focus on a variety of areas including cognitive-behavioral therapy, positive psychology, motivational interviewing, and interpersonal therapy.

The focus is usually to build a natural adaptive process to help resolve the complications and help the bereaved to let go. Each session of the therapy emphasizes the grief and loss by encouraging the patient to reflect on their lives and think more about the future.

During the therapy, your counselor will explore your grief reactions and symptoms to learn more about your ability and weaknesses in handling such situations. Patients get help on how to adjust their lives in the absence of their loved ones and how to use their life's goals to redefine themselves and overcome the grief.

It's also important for the patient to learn and recognize the emotions and accept them. Ideally, the first step towards overcoming grief is accepting the loss and emotions. You can be asked to imagine the death of your loved one and narrate the account of what happened. This narration is recorded, and you can listen to it during your own free time.

This way, the patient relives the death of their loved one thus helping them to initiate the process of acceptance. You'll also be asked to list things or items you fear will remind you of your departed loved one.

For the therapy to be effective, using both targeted and depression treatments will help to ensure patients understand their symptoms and cope with them while providing the much-needed positive emotions.

Complicated grief can be hard for many people to an extent of affecting their work and other relationships. Losing a loved one can be greatly painful, but it helps to seek the support of friends and loved ones during such trying moments. If you can't handle the loss, seeking complicated grief therapy will help to boost your confidence in dealing with the situation.

In addition to the therapy sessions, commit to regular exercises, socialize, learn new skills, join a support group, practice stress management, and reach out to your faith community. This will allow you to cope up with the loss and help you focus on your normal life.

Last Reviewed:
June 21, 2017
Last Updated:
October 12, 2017