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Counselling people bereaved through drug- or alcohol-related deaths: Specialized model for understanding substance-related characteristics and therapeutic interventions: Video Course

Counselling people bereaved through drug- or alcohol-related deaths: Specialized model for understanding substance-related characteristics and therapeutic interventions: Video Course

Although drug- and alcohol-related deaths have been increasing across the developed world for many years, there seems to be a further spike in these rates in the UK and Europe, going by the post-pandemic statistics. In fact, they have been described as reaching near epidemic levels in some countries, such as the USA, being referred to as the ‘opioid crisis’. Despite much media coverage of this, little attention has been given to the bereavements that follow these substance-related deaths.

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Course Credits

CPD: 3 / CE: 3

Speaker(s)

Peter Cartwright

Course length in hours

3 hrs of video content

Full course information

Recently, there have been several research studies into these bereavements, which are revealing that, whilst these bereavements vary a lot, they are often severe, complex and long-lasting. This includes how they have five potential substance-related characteristics that are in addition to the characteristics found in all bereavements, that tend to create this severity, complexity and longevity (Cartwright 2019). These characteristics easily overwhelm someone’s ability to cope with and work through their grief; the severity of grief may endure far beyond someone’s expectation; and the death can become someone’s defining life experience, with their life before it and an unrecognisably changed life after.

Unsurprisingly therefore, these bereaved individuals often need help to cope with and work through their grief. Sometimes, they may come into therapy for another reason, such as depression, trauma, guilt etc., unaware that the causal issue underlying this difficulty is a past drug or alcohol-related beravement.

However, until recently very little specialist literature existed to inform and guide practitioners in how to work with these bereaved individuals. Therefore, the aim of this webinar is to inform any practitioner who works therapeutically with these bereaved individuals about the substance-related characteristics of these bereavements, as well to briefly present ideas for how to meet the therapeutic needs associated with each of those characteristics.

In particular, this webinar will present some of the key recent developments in how to counsel these bereaved people. In particular it is an opportunity to learn about the model that defines and describes the five potential substance-related characteristics of these bereavements. Examples of some of the many ways these characteristics can manifest include:

  • The belief that the death of a loved one was untimely and could have been prevented
  • Being confused, distressed and frustrated about substance using behaviour, how substances actually killed a loved one, and especially about addiction where it is relevant, that create difficulties in grieving
  • Facing the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how a loved one died; whether or how much they suffered before death
  • Unresolved relationship difficulties with a loved one caused through substance using behaviour, that can seem beyond resolution after the death
  • Intense and enduring feelings of guilt for being unable to stop a loved one from using substances or to have prevented their death
  • Stigma, especially for drug-related deaths, that can be deeply shaming and can inhibit someone from seeking support with their bereavement – at the very time they probably need it the most
  • Involvement with the police and the wider criminal justice system after the death
  • The loss of hope that a loved one would one day stop using substances
  • Sensationalised and judgemental media coverage

Consideration will be given to how the model helps to counsel such clients. One significant way, that will be described in the webinar, is how these potential characteristics can be ‘reframed’ as therapeutic needs, that counselling can help a bereaved person to meet. The meeting of these needs facilitates therapeutic movement and more effective grieving. Brief consideration will be given to how to work through each of five specific potential characteristics/needs.

Additionally, the webinar will briefly present ideas that are important for counselling these bereaved individuals:

  • The idea of traumatic bereavement, being trauma aware and working with restimulated trauma
  • The window of tolerance (Siegal 2012) when applied to grief (as well as to trauma)
  • Developing a bereaved person’s support, including the technique of putting ‘grief in a box’ – to self-manage grieving
  • The importance of narrative repair / construction in substance-related bereavements

Lastly, this webinar will briefly explain three general counselling / bereavement theories which are helpful for counselling people with these particular bereavements. There will also be time for questions during the webinar.

Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the five potential drug- and alcohol-related characteristics of these bereavements
  • Discuss how to reframe the five drug- and alcohol-related characteristics as therapeutic needs, that counselling can help a bereaved person to meet
  • Discuss specific ideas for how to counsel people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death

References:

Cartwright, P. (2019). How helpful is counselling for people bereaved through a substance-related death?’ Bereavement Care 38, 1, 23–32.

Cartwright, P. (2020). Supporting people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death. Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

Kuykendall, J. (2001). In Cartwright, P. (2020). Supporting people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death. Jessica Kingsley Publishing.

Neimeyer, R.A. and Sands, D.C. (2011). ‘Meaning Reconstruction in Bereavement: From Principles to Practice.’ In R.A. Neimeyer, D.L. Harris, H.R. Winokuer and G.F. Thornton (eds) Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice. Routledge.

Siegal, D.J. (2012). The Developing MindHow Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are (2nd edition). Guilford Press.

© nscience 2022 / 2023

What's included in this course

What you’ll learn

This webinar will present some of the key recent developments in how to counsel these bereaved people. In particular it is an opportunity to learn about the model that defines and describes the five potential substance-related characteristics of these bereavements.

Learning objectives

  • Describe the five potential drug- and alcohol-related characteristics of these bereavements
  • Discuss how to reframe the five drug- and alcohol-related characteristics as therapeutic needs, that counselling can help a bereaved person to meet
  • Discuss specific ideas for how to counsel people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death

About the speaker(s)

Peter Cartwright is a Counsellor, Author, Trainer and Researcher, with a specialism in counselling people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death. His work includes being the lead author and editor of the only book internationally to address how to counsel these people, Supporting people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death. He undertook the first research into the helpfulness of counselling for this client group: How helpful is counselling for people bereaved through a substance-related death?, and he used this research to inform the writing of the book. Also, he was the chair and lead author for the UK working group that produced the first guidance for any professional, worker or volunteer: Bereaved through substance use: Guidelines for those whose work brings them into contact with adults after a drug or alcohol-related death; that was the third and final part of the first large-scale research internationally into the nature of these bereavements.

nscience UK is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. nscience UK maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

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