Grief Counselling through Questioning
Questioning is used for therapeutic assessment and to facilitate the client’s expression of emotion, which is a crucial part of the therapeutic process in complicated grief counselling. Examples of questions and their purposes are outlined below.
“Can you tell me about the death?”
“What happened that day”?
“Where were you when you found out about the death”?
These questions open up the topic of grief and grant the bereaved permission to talk about the loss. It also provides further information relating to the nature and circumstances of the death (e.g. whether the death was anticipated or unexpected). Denial and other coping mechanisms will begin to emerge. Feelings of guilt and anger if present will also begin to surface. The bereaved emotional repose will be evident.
“Can you tell me about your loved one?”
“Did you get along well with him?
These questions allow the counsellor to gather history of the deceased and the relationship that the bereaved client had with the person. In the responses, the counsellor should listen for the information that indicates the quality of the relationship, expectations, needs, conflicts and rules governing the expression of emotions.
The history together with congruence between content and affect will be a clear indicator of existing ambivalence and conflicted feelings. Emotions associated with grief may be identified indicating the stage of progress through the grief process.
“What has happened since the death?
“How have things been with you and family and friends?”
These questions allow for exploration of family and social patterns of interaction following the loss. It includes sociocultural factors that may influence the grieving process. Paying attention to terms of inclusion will assist in assessing the bereaved client’s acceptance of the permanence of the loss.
“Have you been through any other bad times recently prior to this loss?”
This question allows for the assessment of prior or additional recent losses that might have an impact on mourning. It is in this questioning that the possibility of disenfranchised losses can be explored.
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