Working with Continuing Bonds in Grief Therapy and Counseling
With Dr. Edith Marie Steffen
Recorded March 2019
Over the past 20-25 years, something of a revolution has taken place in the world of bereavement research and practice, as maintaining bonds with the deceased has become not only an accepted aspect of bereavement but is increasingly seen as a potentially desirable accompaniment or outcome of grief. Grief therapy approaches now often refer explicitly to continuing bonds, and specific techniques have been advanced that can be employed to facilitate the development or reconstruction of bonds with the deceased. This webinar aims to provide an introduction to therapeutic work with a continuing bonds focus. Following some brief background information on the continuing bonds model, participants will learn how continuing bonds can manifest in practice and how grief therapy and counselling can validate and help deepen such bonds or draw on them as a resource. Situations are highlighted where continuing bonds may be hampered and where they may become a more explicit focus of grief therapy and counselling, such as when the relationship with the deceased has been difficult or when the bond is associated with heightened ambivalence, or where there are difficulties making sense of continuing bonds or where there are discrepancies between the bereaved person and their context with regard to such bonds. Participants are introduced to different therapeutic techniques that can foster the development of helpful continuing bonds including establishing a narrative presence, correspondence with the deceased and other writing tasks, chair work, visualisation and imagery, EMDR, use of rituals and creative practices. Each technique is briefly explained, its rationale and potential impact is outlined and illustrated with examples from practice. Adaptations of the techniques for different modalities such as individual or group work and for different adult populations are discussed, drawing on the presenter’s research and experience in the field of continuing bonds and grief therapy.