Robert NeimeyerRobert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D. – Professor of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Neimeyer has published 27 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved. He is author of over 400 articles and book chapters and a frequent workshop presenter, currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process. He serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies.

Dr. Neimeyer will be presenting a workshop on Mourning and Meaning:  The Quest for Significance in Loss.

Workshop Description: Death and loss may not be optional in human life, but how we make meaning of them is. In this workshop, we’ll explore a new way of doing grief work that helps the bereaved person to process and integrate the “event story” of the death, while also validating the “back story” of the love relationship with the deceased. Working with clinical videos, demonstration and recent research, you’ll learn a variety of narrative procedures–such as restorative retelling, therapeutic journaling, and virtual dream stories–to help clients make sense of unwelcome transition and identify the seeds of resilience.

Viewing bereavement through a narrative lens, we will explore the (1) shattering, (2) retelling, (3) reconstructing, (4) integrating and (5) extending of the survivor’s ongoing life story, and distinguish between forms of grieving that are adaptive and those that are complicated and prolonged. At each step we’ll review recent findings that reveal some of the challenges faced by several distinct populations, such as homicide survivors, parents who have lost children, bereaved young adults, widows and widowers, along with their clinical implications for mourners’ psychological and spiritual struggles.  Building on these foundations, we will also explore creative practices for counseling the bereaved that address these challenges, helping them move from grief to growth, as they seek new meaning in their changed lives.

Workshop Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the key features of complicated grief that distinguish it from adaptive grieving after a major loss
  2. Distinguish restorative retelling of the “event story” of the death as a healing practice from rumination and traumatic repetition
  3. Summarize the key ingredients of complicated grief therapy and evidence for its superiority over conventional psychotherapy with bereaved clients
  4. Discuss guidelines for therapeutic journals that help clients master negative emotions and find meaning and perspective in the wake of loss