Initially it is important to create a safe environment for the counselee. This will foster the expression of the emotions and feelings that are bottled up inside of the counselee. This safety is manifested by a counselor who is empathetic and uses good listening skills. It is important to stress to the client that the confidentiality of the counseling sessions will be upheld by the counselor.
The first session will naturally involve the counselor and counselee to become acquainted with each other. But priority should be given to letting the client tell their story. Let them start where they want, that way you can observe what issues they are wrestling with in the present.
The following will outline some of the major objectives that counselors should consider as they help guide clients through their unique grief journey.
- let them tell their story, while you remain non-judgmental, honor their story and journey with them,
- validate their feelings, give them permission to express their feelings
- consider doing a life history of their losses.
- try to obtain their metaphor of grief, what does grief feel like to them
- dispel any myths they may have about grief, but do it gently
- focus on the life of their loved on and their relationship with that person, mementos and journaling might be considered at this point
- look at the events leading up to the death and see if any areas of unfinished business surface
- examine feelings around the loved one’s death
- examine the funeral and after
- look for any Rules that are hampering the grief process
- this whole process of remembering the past is intended to foster reality of the situation and expression of emotions, but at the same time it is important to emphasize hope and normality too.
- look for the four major issues of grief: guilt, anger, depression, or loneliness
- examine roles and restructuring of relationships: look at the roles within the family and outside the family that have been lost
- validate other secondary loses
- look for any unfinished business
- letting go of the attachment or bond, but not the memory: the relationship is converted from one of presence to memory
- develop a new self-identity based on life without the loved one
- help client to become aware of how different their life is without their loved one: there are new skills and tasks to be learned
- aware of types of adjustments; practical emotional, social, physical, perceptual
- consider a symbol for remembering
- discuss new opportunities, hopes and dreams
- has the client learned any insights from the loss
- have they considered ways to support others who have experienced a loss
- help client experience the loss in a context of meaning
- help client to be aware of hope and purpose
- help them to develop courage to invest in new relationships