Reopening the Dialogue: Chair Work and Imaginal Dialogues in Grief Therapy
The Austin Center for Grief & Loss presents
Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD
Reopening the Dialogue:
Chair Work and Imaginal Dialogues in Grief Therapy
Virtual Professional Conference
Friday, November 11 & Saturday, November 12
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
CEUs 6 hours for LMFT, LPC, LMSW, and LCSW
About the Speaker:
Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, maintains an active consulting and coaching practice, and also directs the Portland Institute for Loss and Transition, a “university without walls” for international online training in grief therapy. Neimeyer has published 30 books, including Routledge’s series on Techniques of Grief Therapy, and serves as Editor of Death Studies. The author of over 500 articles and chapters and a popular workshop presenter, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process. In recognition of his contributions, he has been given Lifetime Achievement Awards by both the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the International Network on Personal Meaning.
In meaning-focused grief therapy, accessing and reconstructing the terms of attachment to the deceased is a central process in grieving, both to reaffirm constructive bonds in a sustainable, non-physical form, and to resolve unfinished business in bonds that are more problematic or ambivalent. Facilitating symbolic dialogues with the dead using the related techniques of imaginal dialogue in onsite or online interventions or chair work in face-to-face work with grieving clients can promote both of these aims.
This workshop introduces principles of imaginal dialogue and illustrates them through clinical videos with an adult daughter grieving the loss of a father, parents mourning a young adult daughter’s suicide, and a full-session demonstration of its use with a bereaved son, which will be thoroughly processed in interaction with workshop participants. In combination, the engagement with these actual cases extend emotion-focused procedures to promote not only activation and resolution of the continuing bond, but also its fuller integration through an alternation between self-immersive and self-distancing perspectives. Subsequent video vignettes will illustrate further variations on these procedures, such as internalized other interviewing, in which the therapist interacts with the “deceased”, who is given voice through the client’s enactment of the loved one’s perspective. Participants will benefit from hands-on practice with this method in a practicum component that follows the formal instruction.
Recognize process markers of when chair work is called for in a therapeutic session with a bereaved client
Summarize the procedures involved in introducing, facilitating and processing of symbolic interactions with the deceased
Describe techniques for prompting client “witnessing” of the interaction and tailoring it to use safely in cases when the deceased has profoundly abused, neglected or abandoned the client
Adapt imaginal dialogues for use in both in-office and telehealth settings