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Complicated Grief Treatment: An Evidence-Based Approach to Grief Therapy

Abstract

Complicated grief is a condition that occurs when something impedes the process of adapting to a loss. The core symptoms include intense and prolonged yearning, longing and sorrow, frequent insistent thoughts of the deceased and difficulty accepting the painful reality of the death or imagining a future with purpose and meaning. Complicated grief can cause substantial distress and impairment and it is important that clinicians learn to recognize and treat this condition. Complicated grief treatment is a 16-session evidence-based psychotherapy developed to release and facilitate a bereaved person’s natural adaptive response. The current paper clarifies the conceptual underpinnings of this approach, provides a description of the major treatment components, structure of each session, and suggestions for how clinicians can use the treatment to help clients suffering from complicated grief. A case example is also included to illustrate this discussion.

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Correspondence to M. Katherine Shear.

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Conflict of interest

M. Katherine Shear reports research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01MH60783) and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs of the Department of Defense (W81XWH-15-2-0043). Dr. Shear also reports a contract from Guilford Press to write a book on grief. Colleen Gribbin Bloom reports no conflicts of interest.

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Shear, M.K., Gribbin Bloom, C. Complicated Grief Treatment: An Evidence-Based Approach to Grief Therapy. J Rat-Emo Cognitive-Behav Ther 35, 6–25 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10942-016-0242-2

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10942-016-0242-2

Keywords

  • Bereavement
  • Loss
  • Complicated grief
  • Psychotherapy
  • Treatment