Complex grief responses: Individual and group psychotherapy applications

[:en]OPQ Recognition number: RA01649-16 (5 Hours)

Christopher James Mackinnon, Psychologist

Problem Statement and Need Meta-analyses report that up to 20% of grieving individuals struggle with excessive emotional pain, a sense of meaninglessness in life, and impaired social and occupational functioning-symptoms that typify complicated (or prolonged) bereavement. Individuals in complicated grief often seek out bereavement psychotherapy. For the mental health professional, this can be a complex therapeutic enterprise, demanding sophisticated competence in both assessment and intervention. To this end, meaning-reconstruction theory is a recent model for understanding adaptation to death. Attempts to translate this knowledge into practical practice are flourishing, supported by increasing empirical support. Recent trends in the scholarship focus on implications for bereavement psychotherapy with individual and group modalities. A meaning-based approach underpinning bereavement counselling has been demonstrated to be particularly effective in addressing and resolving complicated bereavement. Grounded within the constructivist school, the model facilitates the bereft to re-author their life story challenged by loss into a more coherent, purposeful, and meaningful narrative. This workshop will outline assessment and intervention approaches for complex-bereavement psychotherapy grounded within a meaning-reconstruction paradigm. Specific attention with be drawn to both individual and group modalities, drawing in part of a recent clinical-research study of a novel psychotherapeutic intervention: Meaning-Based Group Counselling (MBGC, MacKinnon et al. 2015). This workshop will also highlight working with stagnating clients, as well as techniques for addressing therapeutic impasses common to complicated bereavement. The intersections of complicated and disenfranchised grief will also be explored. For example, attention will be given to the type and circumstances of death as determinants of case conceptualization and intervention, including suicide, homicide, chronic-degenerative illness, abduction and missing persons, abortion, miscarriage and still-birth.


  • Describe detailed assessment strategies to distinguish different grief trajectories.
  • Apply principles of meaning-reconstruction bereavement theory to clinical situations.
  • Work with clients who are stagnating in grief and overcome therapeutic impasses.
  • Describe some of variations of disenfranchised grief.

Participants are expected to have a general knowledge of bereavement.[:]

9:00 am - 3:00 pm
Ticket Prices
General Registration$275.00
Argyle Members$235.00

Argyle Institute / Institut Argyle
4150 Sainte Catherine W.
Westmount, QC H3Z2Y5
(514) 931-562

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Argyle Institute
4150 Ste Catherine St. W.
Westmount, QC H3Z 2Y5
(514) 931-5629
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