William James College Continuing Education Programs

William James College

Formerly the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP)

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Mourning and Meaning: The Narrative Arc of Traumatic Loss

Feb 22, 2013 09:00am -
Feb 22, 2013 04:30pm

Event Description

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., instructor

The loss of a loved one, particularly in its most tragic forms, profoundly challenges the thematic foundations that give meaning to the stories of our lives.  This workshop will trace one possible narrative arc through traumatic bereavement, beginning with the shattering of our self narratives as survivors, through our efforts at retelling the narrative of the loss in some restorative fashion, reconstructing its meaning for our ongoing lives, integrating its broader spiritual or cosmic significance, and extending the story of our loved one’s existence in life-affirming ways.  The presentation will review novel research findings on the role of meaning and spirituality in adapting to difficult losses, whether these arise from natural death or from violent causes such as homicide, suicide or fatal accident.  Building on these findings, we will focus strongly on the practice implications of a narrative approach to meaning reconstruction in the wake of loss, and learn how to: (1) distinguish between complicated and adaptive grief; (2) practice procedures for restorative retelling of traumatic loss; (3) offer evidence based guidelines for therapeutic journaling; and (4) use metaphoric and literal storytelling to access and work with themes in a client’s own grief experiences.  Throughout, we will illustrate points in the arc with reference to actual case studies of traumatic bereavement and describe the conditions that help and hinder clients striving to move from grief to growth in the wake of difficult loss.

Upon completion of the program the student will be able to:

  • Identify the key features of complicated grief that distinguish it from adaptive grieving after a major loss
  • Describe the impact of traumatic bereavement on the survivor’s psychological and spiritual functioning
  • Distinguish restorative retelling of the “event story” of the death as a healing practice from rumination and traumatic repetition
  • Summarize the key ingredients of complicated grief therapy and evidence for its superiority over conventional psychotherapy with bereaved clients
  • Discuss guidelines for therapeutic journals that help clients master negative emotions and find meaning and perspective in the wake of loss
  • Analyze virtual dream stories to discern key themes and resources for the metaphoric integration of real-life loss


Program Code: MM68 
6 CE Credits
Location: at MSPP, Newton

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., is a Professor of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Neimeyer has published 25 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy:  Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved and Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society:  Bridging Research and Practice, and serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies. The author of nearly 400 articles and book chapters and a frequent workshop presenter, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process.  Neimeyer served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and Chair of the International Work Group for Death, Dying, & Bereavement.

Event Type:Continuing Education Program
Category:Innovators - Clinical Practice
Early registration ends on Dec 30, 2012.
Regular registration starts on Dec 31, 2012 and ends on Feb 11, 2013.
Late registration starts on Feb 12, 2013.


Registration Fees
Fee TypeEarlyRegularLate
 Mourning and Meaning: The Narrative Arc of Traumatic Loss (MM68)
Member Fee: $145.00$145.00$145.00
Non-Member Fee: $145.00$145.00$145.00

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