When a client experiences a significant or sudden loss, it can feel all-consuming . . .
. . . especially when they start to sift through the layers of emotion that so often accompany grief.
So how might you help a client process those intense emotions, so that they can begin to make meaning out of their loss?
In the video below, Elliott Connie, MA, LPC walks through his approach with a client struggling to come to grips with the sudden loss of her son.
And when you’re doing solution-focused therapy, you always have to be on the lookout for opportunities to ask questions that will have an impact. And as she’s describing her son, she kind of sighed. And I mean, it was an emotional conversation, and she giggled a few times, but there was certainly tears. And she said, “He would be so disappointed in me right now.” And I said, “How come?” And she said, “Because I was always his strong mom and now, I feel so weak and he would want me to be strong.” “So, if he’s looking down on you, what would he notice? I would let him know that you are suffering but strong.” And she said, “At some point, I’m going to have to find a way to give his death purpose.” “And how would you know were doing that?” And she said, “He died of a heart issue and at some point, we have to give his death purpose. I’m going to have to do something meaningful.” And if he were to see her doing that, according to her, that would look like strength.
And the meaningful thing she ended up doing was she started a golf tournament. This woman had no experience with golf or anything. She just thought a golf tournament would be a good fundraiser to raise funds for this issue. And to this day, that golf tournament happens every year. And she’s raised I don’t know how many millions of dollars to research this heart issue.
But that’s why I said I wish I could tell people I think the scariest thing about solution-focus brief therapy is there’s no template. There’s no when this, do this kind of thing. The most important question I asked in that session was, “Can you introduce me to your son?” When I teach solution-focused brief therapy, I have to teach the mindset because the questions emanate from your mindset. The questions come from the way you think about your clients. So, we have to master our mindset, not necessarily memorize a bunch of techniques.
For more expert strategies on working with grief, check out the course Strategies to Help Clients Process Grief and Loss. In it, you’ll hear from experts including Richard Schwartz, PhD; Ruth Lanius, MD, PhD; Janina Fisher, PhD; Ellyn Bader, PhD; Frank Anderson, MD; and more.
Now we’d like to hear from you. How have you worked with grief in your clinical practice? Leave a comment below.