Discuss the psychological and physical
effects of loss and grief: How might an
ethical therapist incorporate this knowledge into his/her work? Base your answer on the theories and models presented in Module 7.
13th February 2015
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In this essay I will discuss what grief is and the kind of grief a client could experience. We will move onto attachment theory and its link as to why we grieve. I will then look at what tools are available for counsellors to support their clients through a normal or abnormal grieving process.
Grief, Loss and Change
A grief process can be kicked off by anything that signals an ending or change in someone’s life. We tend to think of this as the death or loss of someone loved. However, it can also be an ending of other sorts. Below is a mind map I created to consider some of these things. The list is not exhaustive, but instead gives an understanding of the extensive subjects to which the grieving process may apply:
Diagram 1: Types of Loss that may lead to grief (via Coggle Tool)
An example may be a teenager who has extreme acne and as a result their skin or face has changed permanently. This may lead to a grieving process for how they looked or expected to look
Timelines may also not necessarily fit within a ‘social’ expectation. For example, whilst the grief may indeed be related to the death of a partner, it may be that if the death was expected due to a terminal illness that part of the grieving process has been processed. This may lead to surprise by others when a partner finds they are move on to a new relationship earlier that others expect. Of course, this grieving process also applies to the person who is ill – grieving for the part of their life that they will not live. Grief comes in many forms.
The loss of an ‘attachment’ suggests a connection in the first instance. Attachment Theory has developed in support of this – suggesting that we learn to make attachments through childhood and this development affects our adult relationships. ‘Bowlby (1977) developed his attachment theory based on research in many areas (cognitive, control theory, neuropsychology, biological), but concluded that the main basis was not biological but due to a need for trust, safety and security. This attachment is distinct from feeding and sexual behaviour’ (Worden, 1991). This need for trust, safety and security directs us straight to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs model.
Worden goes on to suggest that Bowlby’s theory has a correlation with Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of child development ‘through good parenting, the individual sees himself as being both able to help himself and worthy of being helped should difficulties arise (Erikson, 1950).’ Worden also says that conversely, pathological aberrations can develop in this pattern, abnormal situations and/or parenting during development can lead to abnormal attachments.
There are four main styles of attachment (Ainsworth & Bell, 1971):
Can leave attachment situation and return without extreme emotional response. Positive outlook of attachment, trusting, seeking support and comfort when necessary from relationship. Able to share feelings. Dismissive-Avoidant
Avoids attachment situations and intimacy. Avoids sharing emotions socially or romantically. Tend to suppress and hide feelings. Appears to show little emotional preference between attachments and strangers. Deals with rejection by distancing themselves. Anxious-Preoccupied
Exhibiting high levels of emotional expressiveness, worry and impulsiveness in relationships. Worries that they are not loved. Difficult to relieve worry with comfort. Reluctant to form initial bonds through distrust.
An additional category was added by Ainsworth’s colleague, Mary Main (1988):...
Bibliography: Maslow, A.H . (1943) Hierarchy of Needs [Online] Available from: http://figur8.net/baby/2014/11/06/maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-and-how-it-relates-to-your-childs-education/ [Accessed: 13th February 2015]
NHS Choices: Dealing with Loss [Online]
Prosser-Dodds, L. (2013) THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GRIEF AND PERSONALITY –
A QUANTITATIVE STUDY [Online]
Worden, W. J. (1991) Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy: A handbook for the mental health practitioner. London: Routledge
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