Counseling Psychology


Grief counseling efficacy: What have we learned?

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Taylor & Francis


The growing debate within the bereavement field about the efficacy of grief counselling offers two contrasting viewpoints. At one extreme is Neimeyer's claim that ‘such interventions are typically ineffective, and perhaps even deleterious, at least for persons experiencing a normal bereavement’. At the other is the more cautiously optimistic position of Larson and Hoyt, who argue that studies of grief counselling as typically practised demonstrate levels of effectiveness similar to those found for traditional psychotherapy, and that there is no empirical evidence to support claims of harmful effects. This article summarises the key findings and claims in this debate, explores factors that might have contributed to an uncritical acceptance of the claim that grief counselling is harmful, and recapitulates the authors’ view that the empirical data on outcomes from grief counselling give cause for cautious optimism.