Tag Archives: therapy

Working with Grief and Loss

Consolation by Andy via Flickr
Consolation by Andy via Flickr

We commonly associate grieving with the loss of a loved one.  The death of someone near to us is very clearly a profound loss that needs grieving.  However, we can experience loss in a wide variety of ways, some of them much more subtle.

Nearly any change in our lives involves loss of some kind.  Even a change that you’re happy about can involve some pretty profound loss.  For example, you might be thrilled to receive a long-awaited promotion.  At the same time you are moving on to new challenges, you might also be losing important working relationships and work experiences that have given you a great deal of fulfilment.

Being aware of these more subtle forms of loss can open the door to dealing with feelings and difficulties that otherwise might not make much sense.  Grieving is something that has been widely studied and worked with.  There are concrete ways of making sense of what is happening to you and working through the pain and other experiences that come with loss.

In the late 1960s, a psychiatrist by the name of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with a well-known five-stage model for understanding grief.  She outlined a progressive process where people experience denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  This model has been helpful in normalizing people’s experiences and telling them that it is OK to be experiencing the strong emotions they are feeling.  However, sometimes people get confused if they don’t move through these stages in the order in which they are laid out.  The model can also make it seem like grief is something that happens to you as opposed to being something you can influence and work with.

William Worden, a psychologist, developed another more recent model where grief is seen as involving four basic tasks.  The first is to accept the reality of the loss.  It is normal to want to believe that the loss can be avoided, but one has to work towards acceptance.  The second is to allow yourself to experience the pain of grief.  Again, it makes sense to want to avoid this pain but research and experience show that this is something that must be gone through, not around.  The third is to adjust to the new, post-loss environment.  This is a task that can be actively undertaken, once you have accepted the new reality.  The fourth and final task is to withdraw your emotional energy from the person or situation that has been lost and to invest it in new relationships or new situations.

The ease with which these things can be done varies based on the nature of the loss and your own circumstances.  Sometimes just being aware that you’ve experienced a loss can help you to see and experience it for what it is and work with it.

Terry Noble is a therapist in Peterborough, ON.  You can find information about his counselling practice at www.terrynoble.ca.

Why should a therapist be on social media?

 Vasile Cotovanu on Flickr
Photo by Vasile Cotovanu, Flickr

I’ve been thinking about why I have chosen to have a presence on social media through this blog and Twitter.

Steve Ladurantaye of Twitter Canada came here to Peterborough, ON in July to talk to businesses about using Twitter.  Some of his suggestions were clearly great for many businesses, but simply wouldn’t be appropriate for a therapist.  For example, live tweeting what I do (Look at this picture of a couple in marital distress!) and offering discounts by tweet (Come in before 12 p.m. today and mention this tweet for 25% off an hour of counselling!) are examples of things that you’re not going to find me doing on social media.

However, when he mentioned some of the attributes of a good tweet he allowed me to make a connection about why I want to be on social media.  Steve suggested that authenticity on Twitter is vitally important.  The crowd is pretty adept at sniffing out insincerity and misinformation.

I was motivated to have a larger online presence when I asked one client how he found me and he said that he had asked Siri for a counsellor and was given my name.  In that instant, my mind was blown.  Counsellors have traditionally relied heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.  Clients have come because someone they trust has referred them.  If potential clients are going to trust digital means of referral, I want them to know who they are being referred to.

I’m going to seek through this blog and other forms of social media to let people know who I am as a therapist.  Informed consent is an important principle in my profession.  It basically means that therapists only work with their clients in ways that have been explained to the client and that the client agrees to.

I have come to believe that informed consent has to start with clients having access to authentic online information about who I am as a professional therapist.

Terry Noble is a therapist in Peterborough, ON. You can find information about his counselling practice at www.terrynoble.ca.