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Clin Psychol Rev. 2005 Jun;25(4):395-414. Epub 2005 Mar 23.

Grief work, disclosure and counseling: do they help the bereaved?

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  • 1Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Bereavement is associated with increased risk of morbidity and mortality. How to protect the bereaved against extreme suffering and lasting health impairment remains a central research issue. It has been widely accepted that to adjust, the bereaved have to confront and express intense emotions accompanying their loss. It has further been assumed that others assist in this process, and that intervention programs are effective. To assess validity of these assumptions, this article reviews research on the impact of expressing and sharing emotions across four research domains (social support; emotional disclosure; experimentally induced emotional disclosure; and grief intervention). In none of these areas is there evidence that emotional disclosure facilitates adjustment to loss in normal bereavement. Implications of these findings are discussed.

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