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How will I know whether my therapist is a grief and loss specialist?

Therapists will often say that they work with grief and loss and see it as a core counselling skill, which means that any counsellor should be able to provide it, right? This is not the case, many counsellors may not have current knowledge and may be using older models such as the theory that everyone has to experience certain stages such as denial, bargaining, anger and depression before reaching a stage of acceptance.

You want a therapist to acknowledge, understand and recognise the ways in which we experience our grief is so very individual and we can also continue a bond with what we have lost.

Before booking a session it is helpful to ask a therapist the following questions:

Do you have any specialised training or qualifications in grief counselling?

Are you a member of a professional grief organisation such as the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement or are you an accredited bereavement counsellor?

What are some of the theories and approaches that inform your counselling? Here you would want to be cautious if someone mentions stage theories. I would recommend using therapists who work from more current theories such as Stroebe and Schut's The Dual Process Model and Klass, Silverman and Nickman's Continuing Bonds theory or Professor Robert Neimeyer's theory below:

Asking these questions can help you ensure that you are being supported by a therapist who understands the individual journey of grief - your journey.

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