2008 Meaning Conference, Dr Robert A Neimeyer Bio  

Dr NeimeyerDr Robert A Neimeyer Ph.D.
The University of Memphis
Memphis, TN

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., is a professor and Director of Psychotherapy Research in the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has conducted extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention.

Neimeyer has published 20 books, including Meaning Reconstruction and the Experience of Loss, Lessons of Loss: A Guide to Coping, and Rainbow in the Stone, a book of contemporary poetry. The author of over 300 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process, both in his published work and through his frequent professional workshops for national and international audiences.

Neimeyer is the Editor of the respected international journal, Death Studies, and served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling. He was appointed to the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on End-of-Life Issues, where he helped implement a research and practice agenda for psychology in this critical area. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Distinguished Research Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, elected Chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement, designated Psychologist of the Year by the Tennessee Psychological Association, made a Fellow of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and given the Research Recognition Award by the Association for Death Education and Counseling.
(Dr Neimeyer's full UV.pdf)

Grieving as Meaning-Making Process
Keynote Address
12:30 - 2:00pm, Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Recent developments in bereavement theory and research have supplemented earlier emphases on grief stages and symptomatology by assigning a central role to the reconstruction of a world of meaning that has been challenged by loss. In this presentation I will extend this contemporary view by describing how our life stories can be profoundly disorganized by loss, as well as processes of meaning making that promote adaptation even in the face of such disruptions. Finally, I will suggest several principles and propositions to support a meaning-informed grief therapy, one that seeks to find significance in suffering, sustaining connection to those we have loved and lost, and reorientation in a world transformed by bereavement.

Lessons of Loss: Grief and the Quest for Meaning
Pre-Conference Workshop
9:00am - 12:00pm, Thursday July 24th, 2008

Long after the immediate emotional impact of a loss has faded, the death of someone close to us can disrupt the assumptions that allow us to make meaning of life. In this workshop, participants will learn methods that will enable them to listen beneath the story that clients tell themselves and others about their loss, to metaphorically help clients explore more deeply the felt experience of that loss and its implications for their self-narrative. We’ll examine various forms of narrative disruption triggered by loss and explore how we can help clients to find the seeds of restoration and future growth. Citing new models and findings concerning the diverse paths through grief at both psychological and biological levels and anchoring these in case studies, we will practice strategies for facilitating the reconstruction of meaning in the context of grief therapy.

Topic Objectives

The participant will be able to:

  1. Identify five adaptive and maladaptive trajectories through bereavement
  2. Specify three forms of narrative disruption triggered by loss
  3. List four propositions of a meaning reconstruction model
  4. Use the Life Imprint method as an adjunct to grief therapy


8:00-8:45 Trajectories through bereavement
8:45-9:30 Human beings as meaning-makers
9:30-9:45 Break
9:45-10:30 Biology of bereavement
10:30-11:30 Loss and the reconstruction of meaning
11:30-12:00 Discussion

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