Treatment for Grief

Do You or Someone You Love Need Grief Treatment?

Experiencing grief for any amount of time can bring devastation to your life that you may not have expected. The loss you may be facing can be debilitating to your life, causing you to feel unable to function normally. The extent of grief that you or your loved one is suffering with can produce more severe ramifications, such that your physical, emotional, and social well-being will also be affected. Though it may feel impossible to move beyond your grief or discuss the pain you are experiencing, it is important to find professional treatment to help you cope through these difficult circumstances. Suffering through your grief alone will only prolong the sorrows you are facing and hinder your ability to heal. While grief is a natural part of living, having assistance through these hardships can better help you process and cope. If you are also dealing with co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety or depression, professional treatment can be helpful in addressing these issues as well.

Treatment Plan for Grief

The grief process can be an extremely isolating experience.  You may feel as though no one can understand what you are feeling due to your loss, which may make you inclined to avoidance of help and support. Health professionals who specialize in grief recovery will understand the pain you are encountering and will be able to direct you to the appropriate tools to assist you though this time. Since grief is a complex issue, involving the following components in your recovery process will help you steadily get through this difficult time in your life:

  • Seek your loved ones – The role in healing that your friends and family can participate in is significant. They are an important component in the grief healing process.
  • Licensed counselor – A licensed counselor will be able to create a personalized grieving treatment program. They are also important in making the arrangements to enter a grief treatment facility.
  • Grief psychotherapy facility – A grief psychotherapy program will help increase the odds for successfully dealing with grief. They will use various treatment strategies to tackle any other co-occurring addictions.
  • Continuing groups of support – The motivation and accountability provided by a support group is invaluable. A support group can offer supervision when facing tests of ending treatment and taking medications. They will play a key role in ongoing success.

Treatment Levels for Grief

Treatment for grief will be determined on several factors and also on whether bereavement has become pathologic. More intense forms of grief treatment should be considered if symptoms are impeding normal functioning or life-endangering. Options for treatment may include a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and supervision with a specialized professional. A treatment team working with you can help you best determine which of the following treatment levels is suitable for your current needs:

  • Inpatient Hospitalization – Around the clock (24hr) hospitalization is received. Hospitals focus on the most serious cases where the patient cannot function by themselves because of intense psychological and medical issues, with a goal of getting them healthy enough to exit the hospital in a few weeks’ time.
  • Residential Treatment Center (RTC) – This kind of facility provides the patient an extended overnight stay for 30 to 90 days. An RTC will focus on the main issue and any other co-occurring concerns that may also be present.
  • Partial Hospitalization Level of Care (PHP) – This level of care is conducted in a residential center or hospital and incorporates group and individual therapies. The program runs five days a week either all morning, all afternoon, or all day.
  • Outpatient Treatment Care – This type of care offers some form of structured therapy in a less informal setting. It places fewer limits on the person but still implements both group and personal therapies.
  • Treatment with Support Groups – This type of treatment is important as the members help alleviate the trials of relapsing. The group can supply much needed care and compassion on the road to recovery.

Types of Pharmacological Therapy for Grief Treatment

Normal grief should not necessitate the use of medications, such as antidepressants.  However, there are some cases where medication may be prescribed or used therapeutically to help alleviate symptoms resulting from grief, such as anxiety or depression.  Since medication cannot treat the causes of grief, which is the loss itself, it is not typically recommended.  Furthermore, prolonged or unnecessary use of medications may delay the mourning process, thus possibly extending the grief period for an individual. Any medications options should be used under the discretion and guidance of the professionals you are working with.

Types of Therapy for Grief Treatment

One of the most valuable resources that can help you heal and work through your grief is behavioral therapy. A therapist or counselor can use a variety of psychotherapy methods to help you develop tools needed for healthy coping. This is a vital part of learning to live and be restored through devastation and pain. While these types of tools cannot make grief disappear, they can help you understand, reconcile, and cope with the anguish you are struggling with. Common types of behavioral therapies that may be used in your treatment for grief include the following:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – This level of treatment works toward changing maladaptive thinking patterns so the patient can modify their behavior in a positive way. This also allows negative coping skills to be replaced with positive coping skills.
  • Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) – IPT concentrates on the interpersonal relations and social roles using a short-term supportive psychotherapy, and it tries to help patients find better ways to handle and deal with existing issues or problems. There are four basic areas identified by IPT, which are unresolved grief, role disputes, role changes, and relationship shortcomings.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) – This level of rehab integrates the common behavioral therapy components of IBT and CBT for the regulation of emotions. The introduction of stress management and mindful awareness are key for this therapy
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) – ACT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies combined in various ways with commitment and behavior-change strategies. This is to increase mental and emotional flexibility.
  • Supportive Programs – These are programs like family therapy, group therapy, support groups, etc. These types of supportive programs are beneficial for both the family and the person suffering from grief.

The pain that results from losing a loved one or from experiencing any form of despair can be crushing to you or your loved one. You may find it impossible to pick up the pieces of your life and move forward after suffering something so painful. Have hope that you can come through this dark period of your life with the proper support and help. Though these circumstances in may be overwhelming, they do not need to overtake you. We encourage you to utilize the treatment guides Addiction Hope offers to help you take a step towards rising above any episodes of grief that you may be experiencing.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 22, 2014
Published on, Addiction Help