CBT for Grief: Clearing Cognitive Obstacles to Healing from Loss

Abstract

There is tremendous variability in people’s ability to cope with, and adjust to, the death of someone close to them. One of the factors identified as significant in this regard is the constellation of beliefs that includes a mourner’s thoughts about the circumstances of the death, their feelings about the person who died, their reflections on the relationship with that person, and their assessment of their own ability to survive the loss. This paper considers the role of cognition in adaptation to loss, and demonstrates how maladaptive cognitions concerning the loss, the manner of death or the relationship with the deceased can interfere with adaptation and lead to complications in grief. Case examples illustrate the use of CBT with bereaved clients and the benefits of this approach as part of an overall strategy for helping grieving clients. The effectiveness of CBT with bereaved individuals is enhanced when clients understand the rationale of the treatment and are committed to carrying out the tasks specified in their treatment plan. The article presents a simple model for promoting client involvement and compliance.

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Correspondence to Phyllis Kosminsky.

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Kosminsky, P. CBT for Grief: Clearing Cognitive Obstacles to Healing from Loss. J Rat-Emo Cognitive-Behav Ther 35, 26–37 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10942-016-0241-3

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Keywords

  • CBT for grief
  • Grief therapy
  • Prolonged grief
  • Traumatic grief