Goals For Grief Therapy
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5 Goals For Grief Therapy

Grief and loss change your world in many ways, leaving lasting impacts on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Experiences can be nuanced, complex, and overwhelming to manage alone.

Therapy can offer a transformative experience for creating meaning around loss and healing the complicated range of emotions brought up by the grief.

You may find yourself hesitating about working with a therapist. Some common thoughts you may notice are:

  • Everyone experiences loss, I should be able to get through this on my own.
  • Talking about my feelings of grief won’t change anything.
  • Therapy can’t bring back my loved one.

While therapy cannot change the past or the external circumstances in your life, it can offer support in impactful ways:

  • Process complex emotions related to grief and loss
  • Create meaning and understanding
  • Support you in forming rituals to stay connected to your loved one
  • Develop coping skills to manage emotions
  • Restore you ability to engage in your life

Grief support can help you learn to live with the pain and keep your life on track. I’m going to share the kinds of grief therapy you can seek and some of the goals grief therapy will help you work toward as you move through your healing journey.

“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving…the pain of leaving can tear us apart.

Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.”

Henri Nouwen

Grief is a universal human experience. As much as connection to others fills our hearts with love and our lives with meaning, the loss of a loved one fills us with pain and despair.

Each person handles experiences of grief differently. Certain coping mechanisms may be helpful to relieve pain in the short-term, but may not guide to healing in the long term (e.g. substance abuse, distractions, etc.).

Participating in grief therapy can help you discern healthy ways of coping with the loss and staying engaged with your life.

The term grief refer to a deep sorrow, especially in response to loss of a loved one. Grief therapy supports individuals in their emotional response to this loss.

Mental health professionals, social workers, and family therapists are trained in the complex nature of grief and can support their clients manage the process over time.

Grief counseling can be modified to meet individual preferences or cultural considerations. Different counseling methods, such as emotion-focused therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, narrative therapy, or person-centered therapy, may be incorporate to support the grief journey.

Therapy cannot change the situation, but it can help you in the way you respond to your new reality.

The tasks of sessions will depend on the nature of the loss, the intensity of emotions, the duration of grief, and the level of outside support.

Without therapy, it is common for individuals to ignore their emotions or become stuck in the grief process. A counselor can help you to process pain and move forward in a healthy way.

Goals For Grief Therapy

Overall, the goals of grief therapy are to support individuals, couples, or families managing grief and loss.

While the specific goals may be tailored to meet your individual needs, below are tasks that are generally included in the treatment plan for grief and loss.

Typically, people experience 10 stages of grief. The stages include:

  • Denial – feeling numb, not believing the event has happened
  • Anger- at the loss of a planned future or the unfairness of life
  • Bargaining- going over what could have been
  • Depression- intense sadness and longing for the ones lost
  • Acceptance- easing of the pain and learning to live again

The stages are not always linear. Therapy will guide individuals to understand how their own experiences fit into the model and how to manage their own reactions.

Grief, loss, and death are part of life. The experience of facing difficult emotions in response to grief is normal and natural.

Therapy will provide education about the grief process and can help clients see that they are not alone in what they face. Therapists can also offer support by connecting clients to resources such as social supports, support groups, or reading materials that will facilitate their healing journey.

The pain associated with the grieving process can be very intense, experienced in waves over long periods of time.

People may also question the meaning of their life, or judge themselves for the way that they feel and their own grief reaction.

Therapy for anxiety, depression, and grief provides a supportive space to explore the true, raw emotional responses one has to loss without shame or judgment.

While therapy sessions provide a place to begin exploring emotions and creating space to process them, a therapist will also help clients to develop coping skills to manage challenging emotions outside of the therapy session.

Some coping mechanisms could include relaxation techniques, self-care practices, emotional expression, grounding practices, and mindfulness. These skills help clients to reduce the intensity of challenging emotions over time.

Ultimately, the goal of grief therapy is to help clients to understand their loss and heal their grief. Clients reach a place of acceptance for their experience and reintegration into their functioning in their daily life, while staying connected to the person they lost in a way that is meaningful to them.

Pain may never fully go away. However, a grief counselor supports clients in their ability to adapt to their new reality and move forward in a fulfilling life, even considering all they’ve lost.

how to handle grief

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