9:15 - 10:15 am US Eastern Time 17:15 - 18:15 Moscow Time
Keynote Presentation: Making Art, Making Meaning: Integrating Loss in Grief Therapy
Dr. Robert A. Neimeyer
With the Covid-19 pandemic has come a second, shadow pandemic of disquieting grief, for the losses of persons, places, projects and possibilities that once contributed meaning to our lives, in a context that gives too little support for these often unrecognized and deeply unwelcome transitions. In this brief presentation I argue for the usefulness of viewing grieving as a process of reaffirming or reconstructing a world of meaning shaken or shattered by bereavement and loss, and suggest the relevance of the expressive arts in (a) helping establish a safe “holding environment” for the practice of grief therapy, (b) processing and integrating the “event story” of the death of a loved one, (c) accessing and restoring a continuing bond with the deceased, and (d) revising one’s sense of identity in a changed social field in a way that is life-affirming. I briefly illustrate the arc of this work with a sampling of my personal expressive arts projects undertaken during the pandemic, and encourage closer collaboration between art therapists and grief therapists that can deepen the creative engagement of both with clients as we seek to reconstruct their lives, as well as our own, in the shadow of loss.