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Complicated Grief Treatment: What Makes it Work



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Complicated Grief Treatment: What Makes it Work by Dr. Glickman, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Complicated grief (CG) is a debilitating condition that affects roughly 7-10% of all bereaved people. The syndrome is characterized by persistent yearning and longing, intense sorrow and emotional pain, and preoccupation with thoughts of the loved one. Complicated grief treatment (CGT) is a specialized psychotherapy that has been developed to address this debilitating condition. The 16-week cognitive behavioral treatment has been proven effective in 3 randomized clinical trials. 

While we know that complicated grief treatment works, we do not yet fully understand the mechanisms of action of the treatment (how the treatment works). I will present research that explores this question by examining changes within the patient during treatment; specifically, a decrease in guilt or self-blame related to the death, negative thoughts about a future without the deceased, and avoidance of reminders of the loss. 

Dr. Glickman is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at York College/CUNY where she teaches courses in social work practice and research methods. She holds a Doctorate in Social Work from Columbia University, a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, and a Master's degree in Social Work from New York University. She also completed a certificate program in adult psychotherapy from the New York School for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (NYSPP). Dr. Glickman’s research has focused primarily on grief and bereavement, grief treatment and utilization of counseling services among urban college students. 

Dr. Glickman has a private psychotherapy practice and has worked for many years in the field of outpatient mental health, providing individual and group therapy to children and families as well as domestic violence services. Dr. Glickman served as an independent evaluator for the Complicated Grief Treatment Program at Columbia University and has been trained in complicated grief treatment. She is currently a trainer for a collaborative study between the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Columbia University, which is developing and testing an innovative, mobile and web guide-supported application to promote adaptation to loss in bereaved military families.