Dealing with Parental Grief after Separation: A Group Therapy Model

Mark Danko, Anne Vranisan, Lefteris Patlamazoglou

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    Introduction: Parental grief following separation becomes disenfranchised when it is not socially mourned, validated or acknowledged. The lack of the opportunity to grieve the loss of the relationship with an ex-partner may result in ineffective parenting and negative outcomes for the children’s development, such as anxiety and difficulties with emotional regulation. Case report: CatholicCare (Melbourne, Australia) is a community based organisation that offers a post-separation parenting program consisting of six weekly group sessions, facilitated by two counsellors. Throughout the program, and more specifically during the second session, the focus is on assisting separated parents to deal with grief resulting from the breakdown of their relationship with the other parent and support the children’s coping. The prolonged and often non-linear transition from partnership to singledom is interruptive to the grief process. The program uses principles from attachment and grief theory in order to encourage acceptance and normalisation of the loss, process of grief, adjustment to a new family environment, and identification of unwarranted benefits. Therapeutic discussion is promoted through sharing of personal narratives, experiential exercises, psychoeducation about disenfranchised grief and audio-visual material. This presentation will draw from empirical research and counselling practice to suggest implications for grief counselling with separated parents. The effectiveness of group grief counselling and the ways it allows parents to be genuinely engaged in co-parenting and support their children’s best interests will be discussed. The parents’ coping with grief and its impact on the children’s experiences of grief due to separation will also be explored.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2017
    EventInternational Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society 2017 - Lisbon, Portugal
    Duration: 12 Jul 201715 Jul 2017
    Conference number: 11th


    ConferenceInternational Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society 2017

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