Monday, 6 August 2007

Negative views of grief counseling unsubstantiated by research

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A new study shows that there is no empirical or statistical evidence proving that grief counseling is harmful to clients, contrary to common beliefs. The study was conducted by Dale G. Larson, PhD and William T. Hoyt, PhD.

A report from 2000 claimed that almost 50 percent of "normal grievers" deteriorate as a result of grief counseling. This report has frequently been cited in both scientific literature and the popular press.

Larson and Hoyt took another look at the data and found that the data on which this report was based have never been published, came from a dissertation that was never peer-reviewed, and utilized a statistical method from another student's dissertation that had also never been peer-reviewed. Larson and Hoyt conducted a peer review of the dissertations and reviewers were unanimous in their conclusion that the report is flawed.

Hoyt states, "It is disturbing that such radical claims, which contradict clinical experience and even common sense, could proliferate in journals, at conferences, and in national reports without anyone's ever acting on the basic scientific obligation to examine the data and analyses on which they were based."

According to Larson and Hoyt, the effects of grief counseling were positive, although smaller than those seen in other forms of counseling.



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