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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kris Boksman, C.Psych

Therapy for Grief and Loss: Insights from a Kingston Therapist

An elderly woman crying and experiencing grief and loss

Grief and Loss are Universal Human Experiences

Loss is an inevitable and universal experience. Throughout our lives, we encounter various forms of loss, each carrying its own weight and impact. Whether it is the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, or major life transitions like moving or retirement, loss permeates our existence. Yet, despite its prevalence, our society often fails to equip us with the tools to cope effectively. This article aims to shed light on the necessity of professional therapy for grief and loss, particularly for residents in Kingston, Ontario, and surrounding areas like Sydenham, Gananoque, Belleville, Brockville, Perth, and Napanee.

Understanding the Nature of Grief

Grief is a natural and multifaceted response to loss. It encompasses a wide range of emotional, mental, physical, and behavioural reactions that can vary significantly from person to person. Emotional responses to grief might include sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, anger, irritability, and shock. Mentally, grief can manifest as reduced concentration, forgetfulness, confusion, indecisiveness, denial, detachment, and disorganisation. Physically, individuals may experience numbness, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, nightmares, fatigue, lack of energy, and restlessness. Behavioural responses can include tearfulness, withdrawal, increased consumption of food and alcohol, drug use, overuse of medication, increased spending, overworking or underworking, and excessive use of TV, internet, social media, or video games.

The way we grieve is highly individual, influenced by the nature of the loss, the intensity of our attachment, the duration of the relationship, our personalities, and our past experiences. Consequently, it is crucial to avoid comparing our grieving processes to those of others or judging how others grieve. Each person's grief journey is unique, and recognizing this individuality is key to supporting ourselves and others effectively.

Two people in grief counselling, one is a client, and one is a Kingston Therapist from Limestone Clinic

The Role of a Kingston Therapist in Grief Recovery

Professional therapy offers a structured and compassionate approach to navigating grief. Therapy provides a deeper understanding and more effective strategies for managing the complex emotions associated with loss. A Kingston therapist, such as those at Limestone Clinic, can offer invaluable support by helping clients process their grief in a healthy and constructive manner.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is particularly effective for grief counselling. CBT helps individuals understand the interplay between their thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, and teaches them how to challenge and reframe maladaptive thinking patterns. This therapeutic approach is grounded in scientific research, which consistently shows its efficacy in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including grief and loss. For instance, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that CBT significantly reduces symptoms of depression and grief by helping individuals develop healthier thought patterns (Beck et al., 1979). Another study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders highlighted CBT's effectiveness in alleviating anxiety and stress related to loss (Hofmann et al., 2012).

What to Expect in Therapy for Grief and Loss - Grief Counselling in Kingston

When you begin therapy for grief and loss, you can expect a safe and supportive environment where you can explore your emotions without fear of judgment. The initial sessions typically involve discussing the nature of your loss and how it has impacted various aspects of your life. This helps your therapist understand your unique grieving process and tailor their approach to meet your specific needs.

In therapy, you will have the opportunity to express your feelings and thoughts openly. Your therapist will listen empathetically and validate your experiences, providing a space where you feel heard and understood. This process alone can be incredibly healing, as it allows you to process your grief in a supportive setting.

Your therapist may use various therapeutic techniques to help you navigate your grief. These might include cognitive restructuring, which involves identifying and challenging unhelpful thoughts related to your loss. By reframing these thoughts, you can develop a healthier perspective and reduce feelings of guilt, anger, or hopelessness. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques may also be introduced to help you manage the physical and emotional symptoms of grief, such as anxiety and restlessness.

A photo of an old memorial cross "In Loving Memory Of" is written on the cross

As therapy progresses, you may work on developing coping strategies to manage the day-to-day challenges of grief. This can include building a support network, engaging in self-care practices, and finding meaningful ways to honour and remember your loss. Your therapist will guide you through these steps, helping you to integrate your grief into your life in a way that promotes healing and resilience.

Therapy can also address any complications that may arise during the grieving process. Complicated grief, which involves persistent and intense symptoms that interfere with daily functioning, may require more targeted interventions. Your therapist will work with you to identify any barriers to healing and develop a comprehensive plan to address these issues.

Scientific evidence supports the benefits of professional therapy for grief and loss. A meta-analysis published in the Psychological Bulletin found that psychotherapy is effective in reducing the symptoms of grief and promoting overall psychological well-being (Currier et al., 2008). Another study in the American Journal of Psychiatry highlighted that therapy can significantly improve the quality of life for those experiencing complicated grief, helping them to adapt to their loss and find new meaning in life (Shear et al., 2005).

Professional Therapy for Grief and Loss in Kingston and Surrounding Areas, or Online for all Residents of Ontario

For residents of Kingston, Ontario, and neighbouring communities such as Sydenham, Gananoque, Belleville, Brockville, Perth, and Napanee, accessing professional therapy for grief and loss can be life-changing. A Kingston therapist can provide tailored support that takes into account the unique aspects of each individual's grief journey. At Limestone Clinic, our experienced therapists are dedicated to helping clients navigate their grief with compassion and expertise.

The importance of seeking professional support cannot be overstated. Unresolved grief can lead to significant emotional, mental, and physical distress, impacting all areas of life. By working with a qualified therapist, individuals can process their grief in a healthy manner, reducing the risk of prolonged or complicated grief reactions.

A photo of a flower arrangement in a cemetery vase that reads, "IN LOVING MEMORY"

Supporting Yourself and Others Through Grief

While professional therapy is crucial, there are also steps individuals can take to support themselves and others through the grieving process. Acknowledging and expressing feelings is vital. When grieving, it is important to pay attention to your emotions and reactions without self-criticism. Engaging in social activities, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and seeking support from trusted friends and family can also be beneficial.

Supporting others who are grieving requires empathy and active listening. Simple statements like "I am sorry for your loss" or "This must be difficult for you" can provide comfort and validation. It is equally important to avoid offering unsolicited advice or making intellectual comments that may invalidate the person's emotions.

Get the Support You Deserve

If you are struggling with grief and loss, professional therapy can provide the support and guidance you need to navigate this challenging time. The experts at Limestone Clinic in Kingston, Ontario, are here to help. Contact us today to start your journey towards healing and emotional well-being.

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We are located in Kingston, Ontario, but also offer convenient online therapy services to all of Ontario, which means that we often have clients see us from the Toronto/GTA, Ottawa, London, Sarnia, Niagara, Peterborough, Muskoka, Belleville, Napanee, Amherstview, Kingston, Wolfe Island, Gananoque, Sydenham, Glenburnie, Inverary, Rockport, Thousand Islands, and Brockville regions.

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