Resistance to psychotherapy after a child dies: The effects of the death on parents and siblings

P. P. Bernstein, S. W. Duncan, L. A. Gavin, K. M. Lindahl, S. Ozonoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Child loss is examined from the perspective of its impact on the family system and its potential impact on the course of psychotherapy. Case illustrations are used to illustrate how parents, siblings, and the marital dyad are affected by the death of a child. Such families may be resistant to recognizing and treating core problems related to unresolved grief, particularly when they seek treatment for apparently unrelated problems. Therapists may find themselves colluding in the silence that often surrounds such a loss. This resistance may threaten the establishment of a therapeutic alliance and may cause families to withdraw from treatment prematurely. The authors stress the importance of recognizing and working with this resistance so that the unresolved grief underlying the presenting problems can be understood and worked through.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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