Loss and psychotherapy – an explorative study

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Lovas, Szilvia
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this study is to explore how loss is understood from a psychotherapeutic perspective. It firstly offers some definitions for grief and bereavement. The study describes and compares some of the most taught contemporary theories on grief, starting from the groundwork of the psychoanalytic view, with Freud’s Mourning and melancholia (1917). It then examines and compares the different contemporary theories and identifies various understandings of the process of grief. According to Freud, the recovery from loss is accomplished once the bonds between the bereaved person and the deceased are broken and reinvested into a new relationship. The next shift in the field occurred when grief researchers challenged the concept of emotional detachment which is felt by the bereaved towards the deceased. Recent theorists in that field suggest maintaining emotional bonds with the deceased. This study examines three psychotherapeutic modalities to see how they address the concept of loss. These modalities are: existential, person-centred and gestalt. The existential modality is discussed more in detail as an approach to the search for a meaning of life following loss. The conclusion will suggest that all the three approaches are effective in supporting clients dealing with loss in different ways.