Moving Through Grief

Moving Through Grief

An Emotionally Focused Approach

By Leanne Campbell

July/August 2022

In our first session, my client Sarah appeared on the screen in stylish, dark-rimmed glasses and nicely coiffed blonde hair. With a tone of impatience, she began by telling me that her friends and family had encouraged her to call a therapist.

“It’s been more than two years since I lost Steve,” she said. “We were married for almost four decades. They think I should’ve moved on by now.” The creases at the bridge of her nose deepened. “Moved on. What does that even mean?”

We sat in silence for a moment together. Good question!

I work from an attachment and Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT) perspective, in which the key to returning to healthy living after a loss like Sarah’s entails moving through challenging emotions—a natural and organic process of alternating protest and despair. To facilitate this, I’ll begin by tuning into my client and her experience of loss and grief, and pay particular attention to the nature of the relationship with the deceased. For instance, were there indications of attachment insecurity in the form of a lack of trust, or perhaps unresolved issues between Sarah and Steve?

In the process of discovery with Sarah, other questions abounded. Had she had a personal history of loss or trauma that might deepen the impact of losing her husband? How did she usually deal with emotion? Did she have a tendency to turn the volume on her feelings up or down, thereby reactively intensifying or suppressing…

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