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The Psychotherapy Curriculum

Robert Neimeyer Collection: Finding Meaning in Loss

Hear all of our previously recorded interviews with eminent psychologist and teacher, Robert Neimeyer, PhD.

Program Description

Suffering is not restricted by age, nor prohibited to the young. In his book, "Man’s Search for Meaning," Victor Frankel says we must make larger sense out of our suffering. To survive is to find meaning in the suffering. Each person must find out for himself the purpose of his suffering. No one else can fix it.

No stranger to suffering, Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D. knows about the trauma of loss and its aftermath from the inside out. In his compassionate work about coping with loss, he makes a strong case that traditional theories of grief are too superficial and simplistic. He has developed a fresh theory of grieving as a meaning-reconstruction process, which he discusses in the first of two interviews in this collection.

Learning Objectives

This program provides clinicians with the opportunity to assess the meaning and impact of loss in children and adolescents, using a narrative therapy approach.


A Narrative-Constructivist Approach - Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D.

Dr. Neimeyer presents his conceptualization of grief and loss from a narrative-constructivist point of view. He suggests the problem with using "stage" theories of grief is they simplistically distort the human experience of grieving.

Bereavement in Early Childhood - Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D., Froma Walsh, Ph.D., MSW

D.W. Winnicott said healthy children are better at dealing with death than healthy adults. Every child has a different coping mechanism for dealing with the news that a parent had died, and the most important thing is for the child to know her remaining parent is available. After the initial shock is over, the surviving parent or guardian must ensure the child’s life remains stable. Plus, children need adults to help them navigate through the chaos of death, the many questions, the magical thinking, and all the intense feelings of grief and loss. The second interview references the award winning movie Ponette, the fictional story of a 4-year-old girl, whose mother is killed in an accident. There is no greater loss for a child than the loss of her mother. It’s a loss that is truly forever, and a child’s sense of being safe in the world is shattered. Even at Ponette’s young age, she must make meaning for herself and find a way to go on living. As painful as it is for any of us to accept such a tragedy, imagine the difficulty of coming to terms with this when you don’t yet comprehend the whole concept of death in all its finality. Robert Neimeyer, PhD and Froma Walsh, PhD, a grief and loss expert, share their thoughts on how to best help young children deal with bereavement.

Parent Loss in Adolescence - Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D.

Dr. Neimeyer presents his conceptualization of grief and loss from a narrative-constructivist point of view. He suggests the problem with using "stage" theories of grief is they distort the human experience of grieving.

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