This is an article about Grief and Bereavement Counselling Models from Neil Morrison. This article was originally published in The Living Document Spring 2010. I hope you enjoy.
GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT COUNSELLING MODELS
By Neil Morrison
Historically, counsellors will look to the work of Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (13) the pioneer of support to personal trauma, grief and grieving, associated with death and dying. Her work dramatically improved the understanding and practices in relation to bereavement and hospice care.
Kubler-Ross’ ideas, notably the Five Stages of Grief Model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), are also transferable to personal change and emotional upset resulting from factors other than death and dying.
Dr. Kubler-Ross was at pains to stop practitioners thinking of her Five Stages of Grief Model as linear. However, it seems that this has been the thinking of many practitioners. (Worden (14), Parkes (15)). A common criticism was that not all clients come to the acceptance stage and may seem to be ‘stuck’ in the grieving experience at anger or depression. That was certainly my experience whilst in clinical training as a hospital chaplain. Many patients were stuck in their grieving experience and acceptance was by no means universal.
The concept that people in bereavement go through a grieving process is now also being challenged.
Is there a universal grieving process?
What seems to be developing is the view that people go through a grieving experience which is different for different people. This would, then, suggest that the Stages of Grief model is somewhat out of date.
Other theorists, while accepting the value of Dr. Kubler-Ross’ work, have moved on to phases and cycles, rather than stages, of the grieving experience (for example, Worden, Parkes and Ainsworth-Smith).
Russell Friedman and John W. James of The Grief Recovery Institute state: “We hesitate to name stages for grief. It is our experience that given ideas on how to respond, grievers will cater their feelings to the ideas presented to them. After all, a griever is often in a very suggestible condition: dazed, numb, walking in quicksand. It is often suggested to grievers that they are in denial. In all of our years of experience, working with tens of thousands of grievers, we have rarely met anyone in denial that a loss has occurred.
Worden, J.W. (2001). Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy. (3rded). Routledge: Hove.
Parkes C.M. (2006). Love and Loss: The Roots of Grief and its Complications. Routledge: Hove.
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