Most of us acknowledge how a recent loss or significant life transition can affect someone, and sympathize with their need for support, reassurance, and help through the first days and weeks of adjustment. Few of us, however, appreciate that a significant loss is a “life-changing event” that requires considerable understanding and effort to adjust to, and is one that affects the survivors for the rest of their lives.

If you have been negatively affected by either a recent loss or one that you experienced many years ago, and it is affecting how you live your life today, you may benefit from counseling with a therapist who specializes in loss and bereavement. I understand both the short-term needs and long-term impact of loss, and can help you at whatever stage of bereavement you are.

Grief Counseling for Individuals and Families

I work with individuals and families, who have confronted many forms of loss — death, divorce, illness and changes in mental and physical capacities. All life changes involve painful transitions, when we are not sure who we are and where we are going. Together, my clients and I identify the ways in which their loss and associated grief affect their lives — from day-to-day changes to crises of faith, and the ways their losses challenge their perceptions about the world. We explore the “why” questions. For example:

  • Why is this happening to me?
  • Where do I fit now?
  • Can I trust people?
  • Am I safe in this world?

Examples of people I work with include:

  • Widows and widowers, parents who have lost children, adult children who have lost parents, and siblings who lose siblings;
  • adult children of aging parents, having to make difficult decisions about how and where they should live their remaining years;
  • seniors between 65 and 90 years old examining their options for their lives and their deaths;
  • “empty nesters” confronting changing roles and relationships with their spouses and children; and
  • men and women facing career changes– voluntary and involuntary–who wish to explore the relationship between their work and their identity, and the implications of these changes.
  • Pet lovers who have lost these treasured “family members,” and need special understanding and acceptance for their grief.

Through the counseling process, clients begin to find ways to ultimately accept and integrate their losses, and begin to heal their hurts and move forward with their lives — with hope, and a new sense of meaning and purpose.
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Group Counseling

I offer bereavement groups with individuals who have experienced similar types of losses. For example, spousal groups, groups for those who have lost children, and groups for pet lovers who have lost their animal companions.

Special attention is given to the unique aspects of each of these losses, helping survivors to help each other, and to educate group participants about how their experiences can be resolved in the most meaningful way.

I am currently hosting the following groups:

  • Holiday Blues?
    This is the time of the year when the issues of family and relationships, goals and unrealistic expectations surface. We start to wonder: Where will I spend the holidays? Will the family be a comfort or a curse? Am I happy with my relation ships, my job, my life? What do I want? This group will prove that you are not alone. Being with others can help by providing support, ideas for coping and solving real-life problems that occur during holiday times. You will feel safe to share your tears, fears, and joys, and build a foundation of hope for the future.
  • Missing your Love One?
    Sundays can be difficult when you lose someone you love. You remember spending time with them, or playing with them (depending on their age), and the void they leave can be unbearable. This group will offer support and guidance for how to go on living after your loved one dies. Many survivors do not realize that grief can bring positive change to your life. The combination of a skilled therapist and like-minded group members will bring you comfort as you remember your loved one, and help you understand how to create a connection with your deceased loved one, and yet transform your loss into new meaning for you and your life.
  • Caring for a Loved One?
    When a loved one becomes ill or disabled, family members become caregivers. Whether it’s a parent or spouse with Alzheimer’s, cancer or other life-threatening and debilitating illness, the demands on family members can sometimes be overwhelming. You may need information on where to find help, ask the right questions, or maneuver through the healthcare system. Issues such as depression, stress and anxiety, services such as home care and end-of-life care are often major problems. Sharing your feelings, knowledge, and insights with others experiencing similar responsibilities can be both valuable and extremely comforting.

All groups meet weekly and require prospective members to have an initial screening. Please contact Dr. Berger for an appointment.

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Workshops and Education for Professionals

Workshops offer the opportunity to enhance knowledge and skills about loss and grieving that will help them help clients work through their grief. Using theory, case examples, and experiences from the participants’ practices, Dr. Berger promotes thoughtful discussion that encourages learning from each other.

Workshops are available through professional development and inservice training programs, and are tailored to meet the needs of the audience. (See Presentations)
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Community Presentations

I am pleased to give educational presentations to community organizations, churches and synagogues, to provide basic information about grieving, how to help the bereaved, and what can be done to assist others who have experienced losses.
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