Conference Recording Descriptions

The following sessions were recorded during the ADEC 37th Annual Conference, April 8-11, 2015, in San Antonio, TX.

Old Meets New, East Meets West: The Fusion of Grief Experience and Ritualization Among Chinese

Chow, Amy YM, PhD

Grief is a universal experience, but different cultures prescribe diversified forms of rituals to symbolize this special transition. These rituals evolve over time, adapting to contextual changes. At the same time, rituals transform with the interactions of different cultures which are facilitated by globalization. A cosmopolitan city, like Hong Kong, is a melting pot where old meets new and East meets West. This presentation will outline the changing rituals in death and bereavement practice in Hong Kong and examine the mixed impact to bereaved persons. With the introduction of the new diagnostic criteria of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder in DSM-5, possible controversies in assessment arising from Chinese cultural and religious beliefs will be highlighted. In particular, the grief hallucination, the balance between continuing bond and separation distress, as well as that between expression and avoidance of emotions will be emphasized.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain how cultural rituals in death and bereavement evolved among Chinese.
  2. Explore the potential therapeutic role of Chinese rituals and the possible generalization.
  3. Examine how Chinese cultural beliefs affect the assessment of problematic grief.
Purchase this Conference Recording


A Mother's Tears: From Grief to Activism

Layne, Akesia K. Alexander, MSW, LCSW

History shows that civil rights have had an unlikely champion — the grieving mother. In the midst of great loss, mothers have taken stands against intolerance and injustice. This session will explore dynamics of a grief experience that invites communities into their process to serve as a beacon for transformation. The cases of Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and Michael Brown will serve as a backdrop for a discussion of grief, maternal activism and civil rights. Participants will be asked to examine existing knowledge, narratives, communal grief, and change theory in addressing how a family/community grieves in this spotlight.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Develop a historical and current context for maternal activism and the role of grief and loss in this dynamic.
  2. Describe how inequalities in race, gender, sexual orientation and age affect the understanding of grief and loss.
  3. Define at least three considerations for providing loss support and advocacy for a family grieving in the spotlight with the added nuance of social justice as a mourning task.

Purchase this Conference Recording


Mindfulness and Grief: Techniques For Post-traumatic Growth

Stang, Heather, MA

Mindfulness-based practices, such as meditation, yoga and formal compassion practice, can help bereaved people steady their mind, relax their body, and make meaning from their loss, all while tapping into the stress-reducing relaxation response. Based on case studies from a weekly drop-in Relaxation and Meditation for Grief Group at a community meditation center, this session will illustrate how these ancient practices can cultivate post-traumatic growth and even improve physical and emotional health beyond pre-loss states. Participants will also learn the basic session structure and review relevant literature.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explain the physical and emotional benefits of mindfulness-based techniques.
  2. Identify three different mindfulness-based practices and how they can support the grieving client.
  3. Develop mindfulness-based interventions for bereaved clients.

Purchase this Conference Recording


Best Practices in Suicide Bereavement: A New National Report
Jordan, John, PhD; Neimeyer, Robert, PhD; Cook, Franklin, MA

The Survivors of Suicide Loss Task Force of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention recently completed its work to identify the needs of people exposed to suicide and develop national guidelines for effective suicide postvention. The resulting document offers recommendations for a best-practices approach to postvention infrastructure, resources, services and research. This panel will be the first public presentation of the result of this two-year effort. We summarize evidence for the unique impact of suicide loss and then frame recommendations for community and professional responses to it and provide participants with links to further resources related to this topic.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the principle aims of national guidelines for suicide postvention, focused on the needs of the bereaved.
  2. Distinguish four levels of “survivorship” among those whose lives are touched by suicide loss.
  3. List five needs common to suicide survivors and how postvention services can help to meet them.

Purchase this Conference Recording


The Boy Who Saved Thousands of Lives

Green, Reg

Twenty years ago, Reg Green’s seven-year-old son, Nicholas, was shot in a botched carjacking while the family was on vacation in Italy. Reg and his wife, Maggie, donated Nicholas’ organs and corneas, which went to seven very sick Italians, four of them teenagers. In this presentation, Green will describe some key things he has learned while writing books, being interviewed by the media around the world, and making films about the tens of thousands of deaths that occur every year because of the shortage of donated organs.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Relate the story of the death of Reg Green's son.
  2. Cite the challenges of finding available organs for the sick and dying.
  3. Identify advocacy strategies to increase education regarding organ donation.

Purchase this Conference Recording

Teaching about Life and Living in Death and Dying Courses

Corr, Charles A., PhD

Many who teach or are enrolled in classes on Death and Dying regularly hear critical remarks about these courses—misrepresentations mostly from individuals who have never attended such courses. This presentation describes what actually is taught in most courses in this field with special attention to lessons about life and living that emerge from courses on Death and Dying. As a result, this presentation rebuts misrepresentations of courses on Death and Dying.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify and explain at least five primary subjects commonly addressed in courses on Death and Dying.
  2. Describe how and why courses on Death and Dying devote a major portion of their attention to offering lessons on life and living.
  3. Identify and rebut misrepresentations of the content of courses on Death and Dying.
Purchase this Conference Recording

An Analysis of Research on Childhood and Adolescent Grief
McNiel, Andy, MA; Gaffney, Donna, DNSc, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN

In 2014, the National Alliance for Grieving Children conducted a research compilation project on issues related to childhood grief. Hundreds of peer-reviewed articles were identified, compiled and analyzed. Information gleaned from these peer-reviewed articles and research has provided further insight into the impact of grief on children and teenagers, and protective factors that contribute to healthy coping. This presentation will present a synopsis of these findings and their implication on child and teen bereavement support, and models of community education and involvement in regard to bereavement support for youth.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the impact of grief on children and teenagers as supported by the body of research on the topic.
  2. Apply bereavement support to children and teenagers by identifying the most effective interventions supported by research findings.
  3. Review planning of community outreach and education activities that create a more supportive environment for bereaved children and teenagers.

Purchase this Conference Recording


Child-griever to First Lady: The Griefs of Lady Bird Johnson

Ivan Smith, Harold, DMin, FT

In 1917, as Claudia Taylor placed flowers on her mother’s grave, no one would have predicted that six-year-old would someday be one of Texas’s most successful businesswomen and a future First Lady. Scholars, in studying her White House years, have ignored the impacts of her mother’s death and her father’s dysfunction as a widower with three young children and his serial remarriages. Lady Bird used her parents’ estates to finance Lyndon Johnson’s ambitious political career. She suffered multiple miscarriages during World War II. She took time off from the presidential campaign in 1960 to bury her father. During the early confusing hours after John Kennedy’s assassination, Lady Bird functioned as first consoler to Jackie Kennedy and Rose Kennedy. Lady Bird signed off on LBJ’s first remarks as president at Andrews Air Force Base. She insisted that Caroline Kennedy’s kindergarten continue to meet on the third floor of the White House. Few know of the stresses she navigated following Jackie Kennedy as First Lady and the grace she showed to protesters and grieving families during the Vietnam War. Lady Bird served the nation well in attending funerals for big shots.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Assess the canon narrative of Lady Bird Johnson’s grief.
  2. Review unexamined dimensions of Lady Bird Johnson’s “private” grief.
  3. Apply the use of Lady Bird Johnson’s multi-loss narrative with grievers and in grief education.

Purchase this Conference Recording


How New Insights About the Brain Are Helping Us Understand Bereavement

Kosminsky, Phyllis, PhD, FT

Research on factors that contribute to complications in grief has consistently identified the role of insecure attachment in problematic grief. Over the past 20 years, researchers have identified what appears to be a significant underlying variable in this association between attachment and response to loss, namely the capacity for emotion regulation. Findings from neuroscience research will be presented that demonstrate the importance of early care-giving in brain development and the adverse consequences of early relational trauma. The implications of these findings for our understanding of grief and the provision of grief therapy will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the role of early attachment experience in the development of brain structure and functioning related to emotion regulation.
  2. Discuss the impact of early relational trauma on emotion regulation and implications for coping with bereavement.
  3. Explain the implications of insights from neuroscience for our understanding of variations in bereavement response and for the practice of grief therapy.

Purchase this Conference Recording


Cultural Grief Factors and Access to Care: A Model of Community Support

Willig, Peter, FT, LMFT

This presentation will explore a unique region that reflects a mix of cultures (Hispanic, African American, Haitian, Jewish). Experience with this community will guide discussion of cultural influence, mourning rituals, openness/resistance, and barriers to accessing grief support. The presentation will highlight one community-based model that has been successful in addressing the needs of bereaved children and families in a multi-cultural region. Attendees will gain understanding of multi-cultural factors of grief as related to mourning rituals, resistance to socially based care, and barriers to access of support, as well as reviewing one community based approach that addresses these unique needs.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Examine one multi-cultural region and the influences of cultural norms on the grief experience of its residents.
  2. Explore culturally based barriers towards accessing support for bereft individuals and families.
  3. Examine a community-based approach that addresses cultural needs by including the whole family, maintaining a “health”-based perspective and offering ongoing support.

Purchase this Conference Recording


Grief & Developmental Disabilities
Morse, Rebecca Susan, PhD

The community of the developmentally disabled (DD) comprises an under-recognized minority, and these individuals frequently endure a uniquely disenfranchised grief experience. It is important to recognize the special considerations for our clients, for instance, when the individual does not have the expressive language adequate to communicate their grief and subsequently compensates through behavior. Additionally, when the client with DD is the deceased, there may be special considerations of loss for the family. This presentation is intended to briefly expose audience members to this issue from a behavioral and developmental psychology perspective, and offer suggestions for helping these individuals and their families.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the unique psycholsocial factors surrounding grief for those with developmental/cognitive disabilities, and their families, and how it can lead to disenfranchisement.
  2. Describe and define the unique issues facing the families of those with developmental/cognitive disabilities.
  3. Discuss ways to help individuals with DD and their families through loss, and help mitigate disenfranchised grief.
Purchase this Conference Recording


The Internal Worlds of Grieving Families
Nadeau, Janice Winchester , PhD, LP, LMFT, RN, FT

Grief is a family affair. When a family member dies, most if not all of what goes on inside the family changes. There is an empty place at the table and an empty space on the family tree. Someone other than Grandpa must carve the Thanksgiving turkey. Someone other than Grandma must keep track of family birthdays. Family structure is changed, and patterns of behavior must morph. Coalitions and alliances between and among family members are disturbed causing some members to experience more pain than others. While these internal family changes are difficult to identify and even more difficult to research, paying attention to them pays off. The goal of this presentation is to highlight some of the “family interiors” known to Dr. Nadeau and to point the way to learning more.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Develop and appreciation for the complexity of what goes on inside bereaved families.
  2. Identify three areas of internal family life where change is inevitable.
  3. Assess how paying attention to internal family worlds can benefit us both personally and professionally.
Purchase this Conference Recording


Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy: Theory, Practice and Promise

Lichtenthal, Wendy G., PhD; Sweeney, Corinne R., MA; Roberts, Kailey E., MA; Corner, Geoffrey W., BS; Korbel, Polly A., BA

This presentation describes Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy (MCGT), a new and innovative 16-session intervention for bereaved parents exhibiting elevated prolonged grief symptoms. We will describe the development of MCGT, which was adapted from Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy using feedback from bereaved parents and grief specialists, and its underlying theoretical model and session content. Preliminary results from an open trial of MCGT designed to further refine the intervention and to assess its preliminary efficacy will be discussed. We will also discuss the role that cultural and religious background may play in responding to MCGT and the implications this has on developing culturally sensitive interventions.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy and its underlying theoretical mode.
  2. Explain how assessments from an open trial helped with refinement of Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy.
  3. Describe how intervention feedback data can be used to develop tailored, culturally sensitive grief interventions.
Purchase this Conference Recording


We Don't Know Death: 7 Assumptions We Make About Dying
Miles, Lizzy, MA, MSW, LSW

Prior experiences with death can lead us to believe that we know what to expect the next time we encounter a dying individual. However, for hospice staff, this “knowing” can lead to inappropriate conclusions. This presentation will explore assumptions professionals often make regarding the dying process. We will review the types of situations in which we may romanticize dying. The presenter will share how dying individuals can surprise us and act in ways that we might not have anticipated. Finally, the presenter will offer interventions for professionals to use to ensure we honor non-standard patient choices.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify one’s own assumptions about the dying process that have been influenced by prior experiences.
  2. Assess how assumptions about dying can be detrimental to optimal patient care.
  3. List ways in which cultural difference can play a part in patient choices and behaviors at end of life.

Purchase this Conference Recording


Death, Dying and Bereavement: Multicultural Competence in Psychotherapy
Vasquez, Melba, PhD, ABPP

Are grief and loss a unitary or universal psychological phenomenon which transcends culture? Or are they themselves a product of culture and therefore as variable and diverse as the cultures themselves? Although attachment is universal, there may be a variety of grief reactions that come into play when somebody important to us or our social group dies (Klass, 2000). The purpose of this talk is to provide an evidence-based analysis of how mental health service providers may unintentionally interfere with development of quality alliances with culturally different clients or patients, and thus contribute to the barriers to effective multicultural counseling and psychotherapy, particularly in the area of death and dying. Examples from the presenter’s own experience will be discussed. General ethical principles that serve as the foundation for all ethics codes and principles from the American Psychological Association (2003) Multicultural Guidelines, as well as a review of relevant research, will be applied in suggesting strategies to reduce bias, and to develop culturally appropriate skills in psychological practice.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Restate general moral principles relevant to the obligation to develop competencies in work with diverse populations.
  2. List two potential obstacles to providing competent services for members of diverse populations dealing with death, dying and bereavement.
  3. Identify two positive strategies based on multicultural and feminist ethics for increase in competency for delivery of services to diverse groups dealing with death, dying and bereavement.

Purchase this Conference Recording

Back to Conference Recordings home