Grief Therapy as Meaning Reconstruction: 4 Part Online Series Featuring Dr. Robert Neimeyer

New! Filmed Spring 2021

Presented by Robert Neimeyer, Ph.D.

On Demand | Available Now


12 Hours  |   Pre-approved for 12 CEUs


This On Demand course and will be available after purchase. Participants can watch, pause, and re-watch the sessions at their convenience.

Recorded footage and all course content (certificate, videos, quiz) will be available until June 23, 2022. Extensions cannot be granted under any circumstances. 

Registration will close on June 9, 2022

Part One: Death may end a life, but not necessarily a relationship.  Drawing on an attachment-informed and Two-Track models of bereavement, we will begin by considering grieving as a process of reconstructing rather than relinquishing our bonds with those who have died, and the circumstances that can interfere with this natural process.  Clinical videos bearing on a range of losses will sensitize learners to various impediments to reorganizing the “back story” of the ongoing relationship with the deceased, as we also note several techniques that can help move such work forward.  Participants will practice a creative technique for mapping their “secure base” relationships and leave with a framework for conceptualizing attachment issues complicating adjustment to bereavement and a tool for assessing features of the “back story” of their experiences with the deceased that merit attention in grief counselling and therapy.


Part Two: Whether they are striving to restore a sense of secure attachment to a loved one lost to death or to resolve lingering relational issues with the deceased, mourners frequently need to reengage those they have lost rather than relinquish the bond and “move on.”  In this program we will explore and practice several creative narrative, emotion-focused and conversational methods for re-introducing the deceased into the social and psychological world of the bereaved, fostering a sustaining sense of connection and alliance with the loved one in embracing a changed future, and working through issues of guilt, anger and abandonment triggered by the death and the shared life that preceded it.  Participants will leave with tools for assessing factors that complicate grieving, helping clients appreciate the role of the loved one in their construction of their own identities, and re-access and revise frozen dialogues with the deceased that interfere with post-loss adaptation.


Part Three: As contemporary models of bereavement have become more nuanced and empirically informed, so too have the practices available to counsellors and therapists who work with complicated, prolonged and debilitating forms of grief.  This module offers in-depth training in several of these techniques, nesting them both within the therapy relationship and in the context of current theories and research that provide flexible, trauma-informed frameworks for intervention.

Beginning with a discussion of the power of presence as a fundamental dimension of the therapeutic “holding environment,” we will consider how we can quickly assess our clients’ needs and readiness for change. We will then discuss how to create a safe relational container for a healing “re-telling” of the loss experience, anchoring such work in both contemporary Meaning Reconstruction and Dual Process models and related research.  Drawing on clinical videos of clients contending with losses through sudden natural death, accident and suicide, we will learn to listen between the lines of the stories clients tell themselves and others about the death to grasp more fully the unvoiced meaning of their grief, and how we can help them integrate the event story of the death into lives with less reactivity, and find a compassionate audience for its telling.


Part Four: Adaptive grieving implies integrating the loss into our changed sense of who we are, as well as into the changed story of our lives.  In this module we consider two techniques for helping mourners discern the deeper significance of their experience, and in doing so identify the important needs and life lessons implicit in them. First, we will learn to listen between the lines of the stories clients tell themselves and others about the death to grasp more fully the unvoiced meaning of their grief, which often resides at the level of their embodied emotion.  Drawing on both video of an actual session with a traumatically bereaved mother and a Telehealth demonstration of the method, we will explore the role of metaphor in helping clients reach beyond literal language to symbolize how they carry their grief, and what it can tell them and us about how they now might move toward healing.

We then consider innovations in journaling that prompt clients to name and claim the emotional impact of their losses, and also to step back, make greater sense of what they have been through and perhaps even encounter unsought benefits in it.  Alternating between jointly negotiated journaling homework and its seamless integration into subsequent therapy sessions, reflective writing can prompt the self-compassion, insight and action required to reconstruct life out of loss.

Part One:

  1. Wired for Attachment:  An Introduction
  2. When Time Doesn’t Heal:  A Viral Form of Grief
  3. Accessing the Back Story:  The Continuing Bond
  4. Caring and Daring:  Secure Base Mapping

Part Two:

  1. Saying Hello Again:  Introducing Our Loved Ones
  2. Bonding vs. Binding:  Screening for Relational Complications
  3. Reopening the Dialogue: Correspondence with the Deceased

Part Three:

  1. The Pendulum of Grieving:  The Dual Process Model
  2. The Power of Presence:  Creating a Holding Environment
  3. Restorative Retelling 1:  An Introduction
  4. Restorative Retelling 2:  Principles & Practice

Part Four:

  1. Analogical listening:  Meaning making in metaphor
  2.  Embodied knowing:  Accessing the felt sense of grief
  3.  Voicing the unspeakable:  A live demonstration
  4. Directed journaling:  Finding sense and significance in loss

Part One:

  • Identify dimensions of insecure attachment that complicate adaptation to the death
  • Summarize the Two-Track Model of bereavement and its use in identifying problems meriting clinical attention
  • Utilize a validated measure of the quality of the relationship with the deceased to pinpoint a focus for intervention
  • Apply Secure Base Mapping to trace sustaining bonds over time to identify internal and external resources to promote adaptation to life transitions


Part Two:

  • Discuss the concept of continuing bonds with the deceased and identify how it can both support and interfere with adaptive grieving
  • Practice two techniques for consolidating a constructive bond with the deceased as the client transitions toward a changed future
  • Summarize the use of the Unfinished Business in Bereavement Scale for assessing residual conflicts and disappointments in the relationship with the deceased that invite therapeutic work
  • Use the Life Imprint technique to recognize the living legacy of the deceased for the survivor at both concrete and abstract levels


Part Three:

  • Distinguish between therapeutic “presence” and “absence” in the process of therapy
  • Summarize the essential features of Meaning Reconstruction and Dual Process models of grief and outline their implications for grief therapy
  • Implement restorative retelling procedures for mastering the event story of the loss
  • Practice the use of audio recording of an event story of loss, and reflexively journal about the utility of this process.


Part Four:

  • Summarize guidelines for Analogical Listening as a procedure to help clients make greater sense of their emotions and themselves
  • Describe how a non-literal, figurative form of inquiry into the felt sense of loss can help clients symbolize their implicit embodied meanings
  • Distinguish between emotion-focused, sense-making and benefit-finding approaches to journaling and highlight the role of each
  • Implement procedures for establishing safe entry into and exit from immersive and reflective journaling, and generalize to its use in therapy

All Mental Health Professionals: K–12 Classroom Teachers, School Counsellors/Psychologists, Learning Assistance/ Resource Teachers, School Administrators, School Paraprofessionals including Special Education Assistants, Classroom Assistants and Childcare Workers. All other professionals who support students including but not limited to: Nurses, Social Workers, Psychologists, Clinical Counsellors, Family Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Addiction Counsellors, Youth Workers, Mental Health Workers, Probation Officers, and Early Childhood Educators. 

Parents, Caregiver, Foster Parents, Grandparents, and Extended Family raising a child.

Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, and maintains an active consulting and coaching practice. He also directs the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, which provides online and onsite training internationally in grief therapy. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has conducted extensive research on the topics of death, grief, loss, and suicide intervention.

Neimeyer has published 30 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy:  Assessment and Intervention and Grief and the Expressive Arts:  Practices for Creating Meaning, the latter with Barbara Thompson. The author of over 500 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process, both in his published work and through his frequent professional workshops for national and international audiences.

Neimeyer is the Editor of the respected international journal, Death Studies, and served as President of the Association for Death Education and Counselling. In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Distinguished Research Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, elected Chair of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement, and given the Research Recognition, Clinical Practice and Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Association for Death Education and Counselling. Most recently, he has received the Phoenix Award:  Rising to the Service of Humanity from the MISS Foundation, been given ADEC’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and been recognized as an Honoured Associate of the Viktor Frankl Association for his lifetime contributions to the study of meaning.

RegistrationEarly bird FeeRegular Fee
Individual Enrollment$449.00N/A
Full-Time Student$359.00N/A

All fees are in Canadian dollars ($CAD).

For group and/or student rates please view our Terms & Conditions and contact for more information and registration. 

  • Canadian Psychological Association
    The Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW) and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Social Workers (NLASW) accept CPA-approved continuing education credits