Experts agree that the most important factor in a successful grief experience is support for the bereaved. But what if the grieving person gets stuck, and no amount of support seems to be enough?

Some may think it is time to ask the doctor for an anti-depressant, but a far more effective course of action would be to seek support from a health professional with special training in “complicated grief.”

Dr. M. Katherine Shear, who holds the dual appointment of the Marion E. Kenworthy Professor of Psychiatry in Social Work and Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, has pioneered a treatment method, known as Complicated Grief Treatment (CGT), which includes specific procedures to help resolve grief complications and facilitate natural mourning. A time-limited, targeted psychotherapy, CGT has been tested and proven more efficacious than interpersonal psychotherapy in two NIMH-funded randomized controlled trials.

And now Dr. Shear has designed a workshop series for grief counselors and other health care professionals interesting in learning CGT for use with their clients. “We hope to grow the number of trained Complicated Grief Treatment therapists around the world as a result of offering these trainings,” she says.

The next workshop series takes place on Friday, April 24, 2015 (register here), and on Friday & Saturday, June 5-6, 2015 (register here).

complicated grief treatment workshops

One-day Introductory Workshop

The training series begins with a one-day workshop designed to introduce professionals to the syndrome of complicated grief (CG) and complicated grief treatment (CGT). Led by Professor Shear and other qualified CGT trainers, participants learn:

  • a framework for understanding bereavement and grief from an attachment system perspective,
  • the symptoms of complicated grief and an explanatory model for its development.
  • methods to recognize and assess for CG and
  • an overview of the core principles, strategies and procedures used in CGT.

Data from the two NIMH-funded trials are also presented and discussed.

Dr. Bonnie Gorscak, a clinical psychologist and one of Dr. Shear’s trainers, recounts her own learning process in mastering the 16 sessions involved in helping a client to overcome the debilitating effects of complicated grief and become unstuck:

Laura Bradbury, a hospice social worker who participated in the introductory training session held on January 26, 2015, provides initial impressions of the training provided by Dr. Shear, Dr. Gorscak and others:

Bradbury’s enthusiasm for the introductory session, for which she was eligible to receive 6 CEUs, was widely shared by other participants with a background in grief counseling. Most felt very positive about an experience that, as one of them put it, presented “great content with many applications for those of us who work with grief and its obstacles.” They appreciated having gained an understanding for how to recognize CG symptoms and distinguish the condition from depression. By the time the session finished, they had become more familiar with the 16-session treatment Dr. Shear has developed for the condition.

The next introductory workshop take place on April 24, 2015. Register NOW.

Two-day Workshop on CGT Principles & Procedures

The second workshop takes place over the course of two days and is designed for licensed mental health professionals who are already knowledgeable about principles, strategies and techniques used in CGT and wish to develop skills in specific procedures used in the course of the 16 sessions. The focus is on the core signature techniques of CGT. Content covered includes:

  • discussion and instruction in pretreatment assessment,
  • aspirational goals work,
  • building support,
  • imaginal revisiting,
  • situational revisiting, and
  • imaginal conversation.

Participants watch videos and/or live demonstrations of techniques, after which they participate in role-playing exercises. At the end of the session, they receive 12 CEUs.

At the CGT Principles & Procedures workshop that took place on February 6-7, 2015, were a number overseas participants. All of them said the long journey to New York City was worthwhile because they could not learn this treatment method anywhere else:

The next two-day workshop on CGT Principles and Procedures takes place on June 5-6, 2015. Register NOW.

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