The unexpected loss of a client can be a lonely and isolating experience for therapists. While family and friends can ritually mourn the deceased, the nature of the therapeutic relationship prohibits therapists from engaging in such activities. Practitioners can only share memories of a client in circumscribed ways, while respecting the patient’s confidentiality. Therefore, they may find it difficult to discuss the things that made the therapeutic relationship meaningful. Similarly, when a therapist loses someone in their private lives, they are expected to isolate themselves from grief, since allowing one’s personal life to enter the working relationship can interfere with a client’s self-discovery and healing.
For therapists caught between their grief and the empathy they provide for their clients, this collection explores the complexity of bereavement within the practice setting. It also examines the professional and personal ramifications of death and loss for the practicing clinician. Featuring original essays from longstanding practitioners, the collection demonstrates the universal experience of bereavement while outlining a theoretical framework for the position of the bereft therapist. Essays cover the unexpected death of clients and patient suicide, personal loss in a therapist’s life, the grief of clients who lose a therapist, disastrous loss within a community, and the grief resulting from professional losses and disruptions. The first of its kind, this volume gives voice to long-suppressed thoughts and emotions, enabling psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and other mental health specialists to achieve the connection and healing they bring to their own work.