Grief Counselling is a type of talking therapy that aims to help people cope with the loss of someone close to them through death.
It is important to mention that Grief is not a mental health condition. Rather, it is a state humans are in following loss. However, grief can often result in a mental health condition developing, so treatment is important.
How Does Grief Counselling Work?
Grief is a perfectly normal process to go through. When anyone loses a loved one, it is common to go through a rough period. Missing someone can be a horrible feeling that may never wholly go away.
As mentioned, grief itself is not a mental health condition. However, grief can become a precursor to mental health problems in some cases.
Grief Counselling aims to help the patient come to terms with their loss in a healthy way. This should allow them to get back to functioning properly.
The therapist will aim to do this by listening to the patient, giving them a chance to speak their mind and open their mind. They can be a support system, and help the patient to come to terms with the new state of their life.
It is difficult to be specific with grief counselling, as it can be different for each case – depending on how each person reacts. After all, everyone grieves differently.
When is Grief Counselling Useful?
Grief Counselling is useful for anyone that is finding it difficult in coping with loss. They will commonly have intense feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger and guilt.
But such is the complex nature of grief, there can be a range of symptoms on display. Normally though, a therapist can adjust their approach to the therapy.
Sometimes it can be down to a family member to suggest that the person considers seeing a therapist. It can be difficult for a person to realise they are struggling so badly.
Advantages of Grief Counselling
There are a few advantages to Grief Counselling:
- If everyone close to you is grieving the same loss, then it can be difficult to get anyone to spend time listening to yourself. The good thing about Grief Counselling is that the patient will have a chance to display your feelings, and get your thoughts out to a trained professional. They can give the patient the attention that they need.
- Guilt is often a key issue in grief, with many people blaming themselves – over something they couldn’t do anything about. Guilt can have a huge impact. Therefore, it can be very useful to tackle this issue through therapy.
- Many people feel alone after losing someone close to them. Having a therapist there to assist them can be very helpful.
Disadvantages of Grief Counselling
There are a few disadvantages to Grief Counselling:
- One of the most important aspects of grief counselling is the importance of the patient and therapist having a strong relationship. It is crucial for the patient to trust their therapist. But if they have been struggling, trusting someone can be difficult.
- Grief Counselling can help, but the pain won’t entirely ever go away. Many people will say that time is the greatest healer of all, which is true in many cases. Therefore, one potential disadvantage is that grief counselling may only paper over the cracks, instead not offering long-term solutions.
- Some people believe that talking in detail about someone that is no longer with them is actually a bad thing. It is possible that it will make them think about them more, and actually worsen their state.
How effective is Grief Counselling?
Grief Counselling seems to have the potential to have a positive impact. However, not everyone that is struggling with grief will find this to be useful.
Studies have found that grief counselling can be especially effective for those who are suffering from grief for longer periods of time .
But as discussed earlier, there has been some criticism that grief counselling can actually worsen a person’s feelings. In fact, one academic journal included Grief Counselling as a treatment that can actually cause harm to patients .
Some people will find Grief Counselling to be very effective, while others won’t. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all therapy.
How to find a therapist?
It is recommended that you contact your GP and inform them of your problems. They will refer you to the relevant mental health team.
If you are aiming to use the private sector, you could ask your GP or someone you know for a recommendation. You can also look online – the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have a therapist directory on their site.
- List of Therapy Types
- Therapy Home
- Everything You Need To Know About Talking Therapy
- Talking Therapy or Medication: Which is Better for Mental Health Problems?
- FAQ’s About Talking Therapy
- What To Do When Therapy Isn’t Working: Alternatives to Talking Therapy
If talking therapy alone hasn’t worked, then your Doctor may suggest adding a medication.
There are many other types of therapy, you can see an exhaustive list of them here.
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 Larson, D. G., & Hoyt, W. T. (2007). What has become of grief counseling? An evaluation of the empirical foundations of the new pessimism. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. 38 (4): p347–355.
 Lilienfeld, S. O. (2007). Psychological Treatments That Cause Harm. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 2 (1).