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52  Let’s talk about grief: building a theoretical framework for grief counselling with systematic literature review
  1. Cristina Felizardo1,2,
  2. Paula Santos1,2 and
  3. Margarida Cerqueira3,4
  1. 1Research Centre for Didactics and Technology in Training for Trainers (CIDTFF) – Portugal
  2. 2Education and Psychology Department, University of Aveiro (DEP-UA) – Portugal
  3. 3Centre for Research in Health Technologies and Services (CINTESIS) – Portugal
  4. 4Higher School of Health, University of Aveiro (ESSUA) – Portugal


Introduction Grief is an inherent phenomenon of life. Every human being will experience it at a given moment in their life. In literature, it is defined as a normative, natural and healthy process, which results from the loss of an affective bond. Grief Counselling is a therapeutic method of intervention in healthy grief, to support the bereaved in adapting to loss and facilitating harmonious adjustment to the new reality. This therapy accelerates the grief process, thus preventing the onset of Prolonged Grief Disorder or mental illness.

Aims This study aims to build a theoretical framework with a focus on the concepts of Normal Grief and Grief Counselling through two systematic literature reviews.

Methods In the first, on Normal Grief, we found 95 articles published between 2017 and 2021, in the Scopus, Eric, and PubMed databases. Eight met all eligibility criteria. The second systematic review, on Grief Counselling, identified 228 articles published between 2017 and 2021, in the same databases and WoS, and selected 12.

Results The literature defines Normal Grief as a normative process that takes place after a life-changing event to adjust to the new reality, characterized by a set of different symptoms (physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual). The response to these symptoms, if adaptative, indicates normal grief. Grief Counselling is a specialized therapeutic intervention carried out by professionals in the social, human and health sciences, whose objective is to improve the adaptive strategies of the bereaved person to adjust to the new reality and prevent grief complications.

Conclusions Normal Grief is a universal life experience that affects children, young people, and adults, and implies cultural and transversal diversity in personal and professional relationships.

Impact The bereaved benefit from Grief Counseling for the prevention of grief pathologies, improvement of adaptive capacity, personal and social development, and aiming for the normativity of the new reality


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  2. Kenny K, Broom A, Kirby E, Ridge D. In one’s own time: contesting the temporality and linearity of bereavement. Health (United Kingdom) 2019;23(1):58–75.

  3. Stroebe M, Schut H, Boerner K. Models of coping with bereavement: an updated overview | Modelos de afrontamiento en duelo: un resumen actualizado. Estudios de Psicologia 2017;38(3):582–607.

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