An Existential View of Grief Counselling

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Abstract
Grief is not essentially classified medically as a mental illness, however the symptoms are similar to depression. Although there is currently an exemption for bereavement in the diagnostic criteria that allows for such symptoms to persist for up to two months after the death of a loved one, more than two months of persistent and pervasive depressive symptoms maybe diagnosed as a major depressive disorder (MDD) in the context of bereavement. These symptoms may include a depressed mood, anxiety and sadness, lack of interest in re-engaging in the world or of forming new relationships. This exemption acknowledges that while grieving can look and feel virtually identical to depression, it is also recognised that it is not depression, as we know it. The new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will remove the bereavement exemption from the diagnostic criteria and the very appropriate reaction to the death of a loved one described above may be diagnosed as MDD.
Grief is a natural and emotional response evoked by significant loss, especially when it entails suffering from the loss of a loved one. A grieving client enters therapy with the expectation of finding meaning in and understanding of how to overcome their emotional distress, interpersonal conflicts and the pain they may be experiencing. Different approaches to therapy may angle this task differently, for example, changing self-defeating thinking patterns in cognitive behaviour therapy or interpreting historical mal-adaptive patterns as in transactional therapy. The two approaches I have chosen for the purpose of this assignment are Existential Therapy and Group Therapy.
Introduction
To understand loss we need to understand attachment. John Bowlby, the father of the Bowlby Attachment Theory, found that without attachment to a significant other person, usually the parent, a child’s emotional growth will be impaired and he or she may experience severe difficulty in



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