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California State University Fullerton
Department of Counseling

Spring 2014 Final Project Abstracts

Nick Albrecht
Counselors’ Process of Treating Young Adults Experiencing Separation Loss

This study examined separation loss in young adults by looking at two examples: romantic breakups and homesickness. Three therapists with experience in these areas were interviewed about their experiences using psychodynamic and attachment theory with the population of interest. The interviews focused on the effects of attachment style, emotional involvement, and early experiences on the adjustment after being separated from adult attachment figures. It was found that securely attached individuals were impacted less and recovered more quickly than those who were insecurely attached. Emotional adjustment was also said to be influenced by clients’ previous experiences with attachment and separation and how those were handled. The information gained from the interviews matched very closely to the literature reviewed and there was high accordance among all three participants. They each provided additional thoughts and strategies for treating clients beyond what was covered in the existing research. Although similarities could be found among those with a similar attachment styles, importance was placed on the individuality of each client and how that will determine his or her experience of separation loss.

Jamie Alger
Finding the Authentic Self: Achieving a Positive Outcome to Parentification through Psychodynamic Awareness and Mindfulness

This study explores how childhood parentification shapes emotional patterns that continue into adulthood. This project began by researching areas impacted by parentification, such as emotional development, awareness of personal needs, and quality of adult relationships. Psychodynamic theory and mindfulness were then considered as approaches to treatment. Three licensed therapists who specialize in these areas were interviewed based on the research. Relevant themes that emerged from these interviews included a sense of responsibility for others’ needs, emotional cut-off, loneliness, and need for control. The importance of becoming aware of personal needs, mourning a lost childhood, and learning to play were additional themes discussed. Counselors revealed how they approach these themes with psychodynamic theory and mindfulness to ultimately help clients achieve fulfilling personal lives and relationships.

Debra Bush
Exploring the Use of Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Adults Struggling with Co-Occurring Borderline Personality Disorder and Substance Use Disorder

Based on previous research it is evident that there is a high correlation of substance abuse disorders (SUDs) that commonly occur among people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). Despite this general acknowledgement, there is still little research focused on developing effective treatment for this comorbidity.  There is extensive research on  treatment for BPD and SUDs independently; however, there is limited reseach on treament approches for the comorbitidy.  The aim of this study is to review the current literature regarding evidence-based treatment for co-occurring BPDs and SUDs and discuss the implication of these findings. Five therapists were interviewed regarding their experiences working with clients with BPD and SUDs.  The interviews were recorded and transcribed, and qualitative analysis methods were used to analyze the data. The counselors shared their modes of incorporating dialectial behavior therapy (DBT) as well as other interventions into their treament.  Themes that emerged from the data included: Borderline Personality Disorder: Etiology and Development, Substance Use Disorders, Comorbidity of BPD and SUD, and Treatment Approaches. The data were compared to the literature related to the topic to explain the findings. Suggestions for future study were given in order to improve the dynamics of working with clients with co-occurring disorders.

Brent Chumpitazi
Taking Back Intimacy: Counselors’ Process Utilizing Emotionally Focused Therapy with Childhood Sexual Abuse Survivors

More than ever, childhood sexual abuse (CSA) survivors are coming to therapy seeking treatment. The research on CSA has mostly been aimed at exploring individual treatment. The major components of CSA symptomatology are intimacy issues, lack of trust, need for control, and substance abuse. This qualitative study explores the work of three therapists who treat CSA with emotionally focused therapy (EFT). It was acknowledged that working with CSA in couples therapy is a slow process that should take into account both partners’ concerns. It can be easy, at times, to form an alliance with the survivor, leaving the non-abused partner feeling alienated from treatment. Themes that emerged from the study included: (a) roadblocks in therapy, (b) working with the non-abused partner, (c) working slow, steady, and safe, (d) use of couples therapy, and (e) EFT in practice. The implications of this study can help mental health professionals balance their approach to accommodate both the survivor and their non-abused romantic partner in couples therapy.

Brenna Egan-McGee
Perspectives on Counseling Insecurely-Attached Clients in Romantic Relationships

In this qualitative study, three counseling professionals were interviewed on the subject of strengthening attachments within the context of romantic relationships. Consensual data analysis was used by the primary researcher and one other graduate student. Four major themes emerged from the counselor’s interviews based on their work with insecurely-attached clients: Strategies Learned to Manage Insecure Attachments, Strengthening Attachments Relationally, Expressing Vulnerability, and The Rewiring Process, with several subthemes within these. This study includes a comprehensive review of the existing literature on attachment in relationships as well as a discussion of the findings in the present study. Clinical implications of these results and potential areas for future research are included.

Nicole Gagliasso 
Counselor’s Use of Group and Couples’ Therapy in Treating Men Struggling with Miscarriage

Miscarriage is an experience that some couples will go through in their lives.  It is easy to envision how the women would be affected in a situation like this and many times the men are pushed aside, even though they are suffering as well.  Three therapists were interviewed about their experience working with men dealing with perinatal loss in both group and couples counseling settings.  The interviews were recorded and then transcribed in order to conduct qualitative data analysis.  It was reported in the interviews that men in fact are grieving during this time of loss even if it does not look that way to everyone else.  The therapists discuss success in both group and couples therapy and what benefits each can have for men in particular.  Certain themes were identified during the data analysis, which include: men in therapy, societal pressures, men’s reactions, couple’s reactions and others.  In the end, implications, future research and limitations are explored. 

Claudia Griese
Counselor’s Experiences Addressing Language Barriers in Latino Families

This study explores the challenges of Latino families when their members are not able to speak the same language due to acculturation discrepancies. Three therapists that counsel Latino families with language barriers utilizing family systems were interviewed. Amongst the emerging themes are obstacles and lack of positive interactions, difficulties conveying messages and speaking the main stream language, culture adjustment struggles, culture clashes and loss of the Spanish language, emotional impact of the lack of connection, the family as a system, and multiple and dynamic roles of the therapist. Participants expressed the challenges and the consequences Latino families must bear when acculturation gaps and language barriers form part of their lives, and how family therapy can bring these families together by empowering them to overcome this unique challenges. The implications of these findings are discussed in the context of helping practitioners to support the needs of this unique population.

Holly Grupe
Therapists’ Processes of Incorporating Feminist Approach into the Treatment of Sexual Revictimization

Research indicates a clear connection between childhood sexual abuse and later sexual assault. This occurrence is known as revictimization. Though there is a large body of research about the relationship between child sexual abuse and adult sexual assault, there is little known about treating adult women who have already been revictimized. A qualitative study was conducted with three therapists who use feminist therapy with women who have experienced revictimization. Each participant was asked a series of open-ended questions about their experiences of the topic. Results indicated similar findings to known research about treating sexual assault survivors and highlighted the benefits of treating survivors using feminist therapy. The participants emphasized the layers of pain that survivors of revictimization often present within therapy, and how they work to empower clients, connect them to social support, and help them find balance. Recommendations are provided to guide other therapists working with this population.

Nadine Haffar
Counselor's Experience Using Mindfulness Techniques When Working With Individuals With Chronic Worry

In a qualitative study of counselors’ experience using mindfulness techniques with individuals who experience chronic worry, three counselors who incorporated mindfulness into their practice were interviewed.  One of the participants was a licensed psychologist, the second was a licensed marriage and family therapist, and the last participant was a marriage and family therapist intern.  Respondents’ statements from the interviews were categorized into six themes: (1) conceptualizing worry, (2) introducing and practicing mindfulness, (3) special considerations and contraindications, (4) other essential components of treatment, (5) recommendations, and (6) the therapist’s process.  This study affirms much of the research on the presentation of chronic worry and theory of mindfulness and offers insight into the counselors’ process inside and outside of the therapy room.

Lisa Hernandez
Counselors’ Use of Art Therapy with Veterans Struggling with Reintegration Issues

The reintegration process for a military veteran can be an overwhelming experience. They are faced with their own interpersonal challenges, psychological trauma, family adjustment issues and career adjustment issues. Clinicians are faced with an interesting challenge in treating this population due to the depth of their issues. Expressive art therapy has been studied for its effectiveness in treating readjustment issues for this population, including but not limited to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Moreover, this form of therapy has been a significant contribution to the treatment of the mental health effects on soldiers.  Four interviews were conducted on the topic of a counselor’s use of expressive arts therapy in the serving veterans experiencing reintegration issues. The interviews were a preliminary inquiry to looking at how art therapy can be used in career development with U.S. military personnel in transition back in to civilian life.

Kathryn Holquin
Therapists’ Description for Stages of Trauma Suffered by Straight Wives Betrayed by Husband’s Same Sex Attraction and Subsequent Infidelity

This research is intended to describe the experiences of the psychotherapists working with wives who have been betrayed as a result of their husband’s same sex attraction and subsequent infidelity.  The theme of traumatic experience is observed by the therapists that work with this population of women.  The method of study involved a qualitative approach wherein the research was gathered from therapists who observe and analyze their client’s experiences. Literature was consulted with respect to how wives report their trauma.  Types of trauma, stages of trauma and lack of disclosure of same sex attraction are all components of the literature review.  This body is research is vital for the protection of women who are at risk for HIV/AIDS.  The research is necessary to further understand and aid this population of women who spend countless hours in couples’ therapy trying to fix “their” problem.    Continued research is recommended with respect to the future traumatic impact on the children produced from these marriages. 

Junko Johnson
Therapists’ Experiences in Using Child-Centered Play Therapy to Work with Aggressive Children who have Insecure Attachment with Primary Caregivers

Children’s aggressive behavior and bullying is a pervasive societal problem that both physically and psychologically impacts children themselves, peers, and family members.  This qualitative study examines the characteristics of aggressive children, and children who have insecure attachments, and also explores their etiology.  To further understand therapist’s experiences working with aggressive children using Child-Centered Play Therapy (CCPT) as treatment, three play therapists were interviewed with an instrument consisting of 15 questions.  Several themes were found in reviewing the data, including the common characteristics among aggressive children and children who have insecure attachment, the association between children’s behavior and insecure attachment with their primary caregivers, positive aspects and outcomes using CCPT, drawbacks of CCPT, preferred therapist’s characteristics, and other forms of play therapy that can work for the population.  The results indicated that CCPT is an effective treatment for aggressive children and offers superior outcomes when caregivers are supportive and have good understanding of CCPT.

Maggie Johnston
Counselors’ Experiences Treating Female Sexual Arousal Disorder Through Psychological Interventions

This study examines the clinical experiences of practitioners working with clients who suffer from female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD). This study first examines the significance of the study as well as the personal significance of the study for the researcher. Then, the literature regarding FSAD is reviewed, with special consideration being paid to socio-cultural concerns, the impact of cognitive distraction on arousal, the impact of body image on arousal, the impact of sexual self-concept on arousal, assessment considerations, and psychological interventions used to treat FSAD. The method of study is then discussed, including participant data, procedure, instrument used, researcher bias, and data analysis. Following this, the results section organizes the data gathered into the relevant themes of cultural concerns, cognitive distraction and anxiety, body image, sexual self-concept, assessment considerations and psychological interventions. Finally, the discussion section outlines the implications of the reviewed research as it intersects with the analyzed data, then considers the limitations, clinical relevance of research, future research opportunities and the reflections of the researcher on this study.

Sabina Kalsey
Counselors’ Experiences Treating Female Body Dissatisfaction and Partner Infidelity

Although there has been ample research on women’s body dissatisfaction, and partner infidelity, there is little empirical work linking these two topics together. In the current study, three counselors were interviewed using a semi-structured format regarding their experience with women who experience body image issues, and have also dealt with partner infidelity. The researcher conducted the data analysis in a team format, and discussed the themes that arose from the interview multiple times to confirm the themes were in fact present. The data revealed five major themes: low self-esteem/ self worth, social support, partner remarks, use of coping skills, and trauma treatment. Future research should focus on expanding their research with this population in an effort to help counselors better understand and help these women.

Jessica Kallenbach
Counselors’ Process Treating Women Struggling with Lowered Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships due to Attachment Insecurity

Research has shown that attachment insecurity may impact an individual’s satisfaction in a romantic relationship. There is a large amount of research focusing on couples in treatment to improve satisfaction and attachment; however, less research appears to be done with individual women in therapy. In this study three therapists were interviewed regarding their experiences working with women on improving relationship satisfaction and a secure attachment. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by qualitative research methods. The participants indicated that the client’s self-worth and self-awareness were important factors in romantic relationship satisfaction. Gender roles and family expectations were also related to attachment and satisfaction. Themes central to successful treatment included characteristics of the therapist, a comprehensive assessment, and incorporating facets of Emotion Focused Therapy. Clinical implications of this study and areas of future research are discussed.

Valerie Lang
Life Gets Better with Age: Counselors’ Integration of Gerotranscendence with Older Adults and Their Families

The arrival of the twentieth century has brought many changes, one of these being an increase in life expectancy.  People are living longer and with this comes a shortage of counseling professionals who lack the proper understanding and training to guide, educate, and support the emotional, relational, and spiritual changes that generally occur during older age. This project commenced with the discovery and exploration of the theory of Gerotranscendence and its possible integration as an additional therapeutic modality for counseling professionals working with older clients. Three participants who specialize in counseling older individuals were interviewed with questions originating out of the initial research. Reoccurring themes arose from open-ended questions, resulting in discussions that included the application of theories, clinical examples, and professional growth, alongside the topic of working to support older adults as well as their families. Common themes identified the importance of counselors’ ability to assist in the process of reconciliation and acceptance in an older persons life, social and relational support, and the contribution of spirituality and legacy making in the lives of older individuals.

Erica LaRussa
Counselor's Use of Group Therapy with Emerging Adults Experiencing a Developmental Identity Crisis

The author investigated the unique challenges of emerging adults including difficulty with identity development that may arise during this transformative period. The use of group therapy as a treatment modality for this population was explored using a qualitative structure. Three therapists were interviewed about their experience with group therapy and young adults using a semi-structured interview format. The data was then transcribed and the transcripts were coded for emerging themes. Six main themes were identified: Adjustment, Identity, Experimentation, Connection, Unique qualities of emerging adults, and Group therapy. Implications for counselors and future research were discussed.

Aaron Lawrence
Counselor’s Process Exploring the Relationship Between Biracial Identity Development and Psychological Well-Being

Results from the 2000 US Census indicates that the number of biracial and multiracial individuals in the United States is growing as over 6.8 million individuals identified with more than one race.  Although research has increased since the turn of the century in relation to the experience of mixed-race individuals, much more research is needed focusing on the relationship of biracial identity development and psychological well-being.  This study aims to focus on therapist’s experience working with biracial individuals.  The research consisted of the data analysis from interviews with three therapists in the field who have experience addressing cultural and identity issues with biracial clientele.  Results from the study indicate that although biracial individuals may not present differently from monoracial clients in regards to symptomatology, their mixed race heritage can be a contributing factor to psychological distress.  Participants also provided useful insight on potential interventions that can be applicable to future therapists working with this population. 

Maria Lopez
Counselors’ Process of Utilizing Therapy with Families who are Caregivers to a Relative with Schizophrenia

The objective of this study is to explore counselors’ process of utilizing therapy with families who are caregivers to a relative with schizophrenia. A qualitative study was performed based on in-depth interviews with three participants who are in the mental health profession. Six themes emerged including emotional challenges, barriers, common modes of treatment, crucial aspects of treatment, and family involvement. It was found that support groups and group therapy were instrumental in reducing feelings of shame among family members (caregivers), decreasing levels of burden and depression, and increasing resiliency. Additionally, implementing psychoeducation as part of the ongoing therapeutic process was found to be helpful in not only gaining new knowledge about schizophrenia, but also in empowering the families, and decreasing their sense of hopelessness. The findings in the present study may help mental health practitioners tailor family work to better meet the needs of both clients (who have schizophrenia) and their family members (caregivers).

Hanh Ly Cao
Counselors’ Process Utilizing Imago Relationship Therapy for the Treatment of Couples Experiencing Disengagement Distress

Conflict between two romantic partners can be difficult to navigate.  It can be especially frustrating when one partner disengages completely from the interaction.  The purpose of the present study is to examine the practice and experience of counselors currently working with couples with disengagement distress.  A review of the literature was conducted on the current research in couples, disengagement, and Imago Relationship Therapy (IRT).  Themes of gender roles, avoidant attachment, and self-concept were found to be prevalent in the literature.  To continue exploring therapists’ clinical work, three participants were interviewed and data was recorded and transcribed.  A qualitative method was used to analyze the findings.  Results showed six themes to occur from analysis, prevalence of disengagement within couples, dynamics in maximizing-minimizing relationships, cultural influences, the significance of a stable self-concept, diagnoses and impairments, and common treatments.  The present study discovered counselors today are starting to see more dynamic communication based on the couple’s socioeconomic environment, while continuing to utilize to the IRT protocol in couples’ therapy.

Spencer McDonald
Counseling Athletes’ During Retirement from Sport

This study’s aim was to enhance the understanding of athletes’ transition out of their sport from the perspective of counselors, therapists, or psychologists who treat them.   Three participants that worked in either a university counseling center, private practice, or both were asked to respond to questions about the reoccurring themes in the literature about athletes’ retirement process.  An over-identified athletic identity was agreed upon by all the participants as the key factor in determining the quality of the transition process.  The behavior and thinking of athletes such as a hyper need for control, failing to prepare adequately for retirement, and struggling for feelings of competency were determining factors in exacerbating the quality of the retirement process.  For practitioners who treat athletes, participants reported the importance of providing immediate assistance with structure and organization, using cognitive-behavioral techniques, teaching new coping skills, and focusing on the clients relationships, possibly through interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT).

Leticia Manzo
Exploring the Use of Family Therapy with Latino Adolescents Who Self-Harm

Despite the growing rates of Latinos, little research has been conducted on Latino adolescents who self-harm and their families. A qualitative study was conducted with three therapists who use family therapy as a treatment modality with adolescents who self-harm. Interviews were conducted using 12 questions and later transcribed. The results indicated four major themes: motives behind self-harm, understanding the Latino culture and the various factors that impede treatment, understanding Latino family dynamics, and therapists’ role in managing treatment. Even though some cultural values may appear to be motives for some Latino adolescents self-harm, therapists could use those same values to enhance the family dynamics and join the family together; rather than have the focus be on the adolescent as an attempt to “fix” him or her. Future research could look at the different roles that Spanish speaking Christian therapists could potentially have on Latinos, since church and religious leaders are often important in the culture.

Stephanie Noble
A Counselor’s Exploration of Treating Anxiety through Mindfulness and Spiritual Mindfulness Techniques

Anxiety disorders, in particular Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) are often pervasive and have limited responses to current therapeutic techniques. Death Anxiety (or existential anxiety) often pervades the lives of those suffering anxiety disorders, and may require more clinical attention. With the numbers of both Americans with anxiety disorders, and Americans and who call themselves spiritual but non-religious, there will be a greater need for clinicians who understand how to integrate mindfulness into therapy. A review of current literature with a focus on Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Death Anxiety, Mindfulness and other light trance states helped to inform the survey questions. To further understand counselor’s experiences working anxious clients using mindfulness and trance states, four therapists were interviewed. Several themes were found in reviewing the data, including populations best suited to mindfulness and trance techniques, treatment of Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs), benefits of these methods to treat generalized and death anxiety, the over-arching use of guided imagery, and concern over the gap incurrent healthcare systems. The present study highlights the importance in use of these techniques for effectively treating anxiety, existential or otherwise. These methods appeared to reduce anxiety symptoms of clients, create greater awareness and acceptance of one’s life, and reduce or eliminate existential terror. Implications for further research include investigating the discussed trance states in greater depth, expanding education of the techniques to training counselors, and exploration of the techniques with secular populations.

Lucy Nguyen
Counselor’s Use of Mindfulness with Second-generation Vietnamese Young Adults Experiencing the Acculturation Gap

The acculturation gap between second generation Vietnamese young adults and their first generation Vietnamese parents manifests a variety issues including low self-esteem and anxious symptoms in the second generation Vietnamese young adults. Additionally, parent-child conflict often emerges due to American and Vietnamese value discrepancies.  Mindfulness techniques may be a beneficial counseling intervention with the Vietnamese young adults struggling with acculturation gap problems at home. Three counselors working with this population were  interviewed using a prepared questionnaire in order to explore their experiences of clients undergoing the acculturation gap and the utilization of mindfulness techniques. All participants were Vietnamese-Americans, and one practiced in a dense Vietnamese community. The following themes were found from review of the data: attitudes toward mental health, acculturation, parent-child relationship and ethnic identity, community support, gender roles, and mindfulness techniques. The current study emphasizes the importance of interventions that support more mindful parent-child interactions and involvement in the ethnic community. Implications for future research may examine the acculturation process of first generation parents after their children leave the home, and how acculturation is transmitted to third generation Vietnamese-Americans.

Katharina Petersen
Counselor’s Use of Art Therapy with Women Experiencing Body Image Dissatisfaction Surrounding Aging in a Youth Oriented Culture

Body image concerns are not limited only to those young women who are dealing with disordered eating, as that they can occur in women at any age. The present study highlights the importance of addressing the concerns of aging women, body image dissatisfaction and the effectiveness of art therapy. The purpose of this qualitative research was to explore counselors’ perceptions regarding the use of art therapy as a means of assisting women with their feelings surrounding aging, poor body image and the improvement of self-esteem. In order to obtain data for the study, four participants who have worked with women utilizing art therapy techniques were interviewed using an instrument consisting of 15 questions. The analysis followed McLeod’s five stages (2003) of examining qualitative data. Several themes were found in reviewing the data, including self-esteem and cultural pressure, acceptance of aging, finding empowerment, art therapy versus talk therapy, overcoming resistance, setting therapeutic goals, art therapy techniques and the healing path. The results were compared to current research literature related to the topic, so as to clarify the findings. Suggestions for future study were given in order to probe those stressors that generate negative thoughts and feelings regarding appearance and create low self-worth amongst middle aged and older women.

Tanya Rangel
Counselors' Utilization of Group Therapy with Stepfathers Experiencing Identity and Parenting Conflict

Stepfathers entering a family may experience adjustment issues and challenges with their new identity.  Group therapy may be an avenue men take to alleviate the stress and uncertainty surrounding their roles as stepfathers.  In this study, three counselors were interviewed regarding their experience in group therapy with stepfather clients.  The interviews were recorded and transcribed, and qualitative analysis methods were used to analyze the data.  Significant themes that arose from the interviews regarding men in therapy included a need for male facilitation in group therapy, understanding the male as a client, managing potential resistance, and normalizing the stepfather’s situation.  Other prominent themes involved were parenting styles, communication, emotional expression, and past influences on the man.  Some themes found in this study agreed with existing literature while others added to the existing literature of stepfathers and group therapy with men.  The findings and practice of group therapy with men, specifically stepfathers, are discussed in the hope that counselors can apply the results to their own practice with this population.

Katharine Robertson-Pfeffer
Counselors’ Experiences Facilitating Life Review with Older Adults Integrating Narrative Expressive Arts Therapies

The story of aging in Western culture is often limited to a medical understanding of the aging experience, which can focus the attention on negative factors such as loss of ability, resources, and connections. Negative stories can become internalized belief systems, which can add to feelings of depression. Narrative therapy and expressive arts therapies can provide older adult clients with opportunities and techniques to critique and challenge their beliefs about aging through the use of creative meaning-making. This study reviews current literature examining the therapeutic use of creativity when working with older adults who experience depression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with therapists working in narrative and expressive arts therapies to gather firsthand accounts of therapists’ experiences working with older adults using creative approaches to life review. The results of this study suggest that when creativity is infused into traditional talk therapy, clients are empowered to utilize previously unrecognized strengths and skills to develop enriched personal meaning, which can alleviate symptoms of depression.

Desiree Rodriguez
Counselor’s Use of Family Therapy with Primary Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Patients

In the United States, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the top ten leading causes of death in adults.  With the increasing population of older adults there will be more individuals diagnosed with this disease. Because family members tend to be the primary caregivers, they are likely to face serious implications as result of chronic stress.  Providing mental health services to caregivers may lead to better care for and delayed placement for patients, and the prevention of mental health illness or hospitalization of the caregiver. This paper presents the experiences of four counselors who work with relative caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients. It is important for mental health professionals to understand the specific needs Alzheimer’s caregivers, taking into consideration the unique grief process, gender, and culture, in order to provide appropriate services. Relative caregivers often experience burn-out and become vulnerable to mental illness. Therefore, caregivers need emotional and practical support, psychoeducation, caregiving strategies, and self-care. Family Therapy is highly recommended to promote healthy functioning in Alzheimer’s caregivers however, it is challenging to get multiple family members involved in this process. Therefore, counselors may have to adjust how services are provided in order to meet the needs of this population.

Jessica Rycroft
Counselors Using Grief Therapy to Treat Ambiguous Loss and Grief in Adult Children of Individuals with Serious Mental

Literature that specifically addresses ambiguous loss in adult children of parents with serious mental illness (SMI) is limited at best.  This study explored counselors’ experience working with clients struggling with ambiguous loss and grief.  More specifically, the study looked at how counselors both 1) approach grief treatment with adult children of parents with SMI, and 2) conceptualize ambiguous loss and grief in the context of American society and culture.  Four participants were interviewed who had extensive experience working with grief and bereavement. Some of the predominant themes that emerged from the study included: 1) challenges and benefits, 2) adjusting expectations, 3) effects of unresolved grief, 4) everybody grieves differently, 5) finding similar support, 6) society and culture: the grief police, and 7) treatment.  Limitations and areas of future research were also explored.

Brandon Wildish
Exploring the Application of Existential Therapy with Bereaving Atheist Older Adults

The purpose of the present study was to explore the application of existential therapy with bereaving atheist older adults, as well as explore their unique meaning making strategies and comparative coping abilities. Three practicing therapists from Orange County were recruited as participants in the study. The participants consisted of a Caucasian female in her early forties and two Caucasian males in their early sixties. Semi-structured interviews were conducted at each participant’s private practice location, in order to gain data on their clinical experience in working with the population and problem under investigation. The researcher, and research partner, became immersed in the data and drew out four major themes; complications and variations within grief and loss, atheistic processing, general stressors of grief and loss, and treatment. Four minor themes were additionally identified to further understand the therapists’ experiences.

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