VISTAS Counseling Families and Adults

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Bearing Witness to the Story: Narrative Reconstruction in Grief Counseling

Peggy Whiting and Elizabeth James


Psychological theorists, researchers, and clinicians have conceptualized models for understanding and treating grief and mourning since Freud’s instrumental article entitled “Mourning and Melancholia” published in 1917. The traditional model of grieving is heavily influenced by psychoanalytic assumptions. Freud understood grief as an intrapsychic process of decathexis, the painful divestment of libidinal energy from memories of the lost object. As ties are surrendered to the lost object, normal functioning is restored and freedom to love again gradually returns. Object relations and attachment theory have therefore, contributed to our traditional model of mourning. George Hagman (2001) offers a comprehensive summary of the historical and recent developments in psychoanalytic theory and treatment of bereavement and mourning. He discusses the “component assumptions that comprise the standard model” (p. 17). The traditional aspects of this model include a number of conclusions about grief that have sustained over time in clinical circles.

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