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Featured Speakers

Amy ChowIntegrating Theory and Research into Passionate Practice of Grief Therapy
Amy Chow, PhD, RSW, FT, CHt


Entering the era of evidence-based practice, there is a growing concern on efficacy of interventions. The modest results of grief intervention, as found in available meta-analyses of efficacy studies, call for systematic development and critical evaluation of grief support. Passionate clinicians are sometimes considered as extraterrestrial to research and theories. This presentation shares the journey of a passionate clinician exploring the new terrain through integrating the theories of bereavement into practice and using research to streamline the interventions. In particular, two main projects will be shared, concerning support of widowed older adults and bereaved persons with intellectual disabilities. A pilot group intervention based on the Dual Process Model of Coping was run for widowed older adults in Hong Kong. Taking into account the cultural context, special features were added to the intervention. Findings of the evaluation and their implications for the future will be outlined. In addition, the journey of developing death education and bereavement support for persons with intellectual disabilities will be shared.

Lori MontrossEverybody Deserves To Have Their Story Heard: The Practice of Dignity Therapy in End-of-Life Care
Lori Montross, PhD  


For those clinicians who wish to implement the Dignity Therapy method championed by Dr. Harvey Chochinov, this workshop focuses on learning the “nuts and bolts” of application in an actual hospice setting. Dr. Montross will describe the specific steps of Dignity Therapy: introducing the process to eligible patients/families and providing a copy of the protocol questions; interviewing the patient; transcribing and editing the interview document; reading back the document to the patient/family; and presenting a bound copy of the final document as a legacy gift. A videotaped example of an actual Dignity Therapy interview will illustrate the process.

George BonnanoBridging Research and Practice Session:

What is Normal Grief? Mapping the Variations
George A. Bonanno, PhD


Until recently, reactions to potentially traumatic life events, including grief reactions following the death of loved ones, have been understood almost exclusively using a simplistic, binary distinction of pathology versus health. Alternatively, loss events have sometimes been examined by comparing average differences between bereaved and non-bereaved people, or by examining average levels of grief symptoms across time. Although both approaches have been useful, neither fully captures the true heterogeneity of responses to these events. Moreover, both approaches have underestimated the prevalence of human resilience in the normal population. In this talk, I will describe studies from Columbia University’s research program in which researchers have attempted to map prototypical trajectories of adjustment in response to loss, as well as other demanding life events that involve loss, such as terrorist disaster, combat, traumatic injury, and cancer surgery. I will place special emphasis on resilient outcomes and explore several of the many factors that predict resilient outcomes.

Following his presentation, Dr. Bonanno will sign copies of his books (available for sale during the conference) or bookplates for those who have his books at home.

Annette Iversen Helping Children After Traumatic Loss
Annette Iversen, PhD


This presentation will focus on issues of children’s trauma in the context of death, dying and bereavement. It is intended that attendees develop a better understanding of signs and circumstances that may suggest the existence of childhood trauma, including insight into differentiating between trauma and non-traumatic grief and loss.  Attendees will also receive information on the appropriate function of multiple providers where childhood trauma is suspected or diagnosed.  Special attention will be paid to tragically more common occurrences of mass killings at schools and other places frequented by children.


Gold Supporter / Conference Bag

San Diego Hospice

Gold Supporters

TAPS Baywood

Silver Supporter/ Conference Pen

Marian University

Silver Supporters

Forest Lawn USC Social Work

Bronze Supporters

Our House Grief Support Center Baylor University The Compassionate Friends National Alliance for Grieving Children