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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2012 Jun;14(2):159-66.

Complicated grief therapy as a new treatment approach.

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Psychology Service, VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, CA, USA.


Complicated grief therapy (CGT) is a relatively new psychotherapy model designed to address symptoms of complicated grief. Drawn from attachment theory and with roots in both interpersonal therapy (IPT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy, CGT includes techniques similar to prolonged exposure (repeatedly telling the story of the death and in vivo exposure activities). The treatment also involves focusing on personal goals and relationships. CGT has been demonstrated to be effective in a trial in which participants with complicated grief were randomly assigned to CGT or IPT; individuals receiving CGT responded more quickly and were more likely to respond overall (51% vs 28%). This article briefly summarizes the conceptual underpinnings of CGT, discusses the empirical evidence for its efficacy, describes its techniques, and presents a case example of a client treated in a 16-session manualized CGT protocol. The article concludes with a description of future research directions for CGT.


bereavement; cognitive behavior therapy; psychotherapy; traumatic grief; treatment

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