Understanding and Treating Complicated Grief: What Can We Learn from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?
The paper outlines possible parallels between the phenomenology and treatment of complicated grief and PTSD. In particular, it explores how treatment procedures used in Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (Ehlers & Clark, 2000) may be adapted for the treatment of complicated grief. Stimulus Discrimination may be helpful in breaking the link between everyday triggers and "felt presence" memories of the deceased. Memory Updating procedures may help the patient accept that the deceased is no longer alive and no longer suffering. Reclaiming your Life procedures may help the patient access autobiographical memories that are not linked to the deceased and counteract beliefs about the value of life without the deceased. The paper further addresses the necessity of specifying the idiosyncratic beliefs that prevent coming to terms with the death, of understanding the relationship between beliefs and coping strategies, and of distinguishing memories from rumination.