Death of a Clinician: The Personal, Practical and Clinical Implications of Therapist Mortality

Emily Becher, Tomoko Ogasawara, Steven M Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Death is inevitable and yet in US culture the discussion of death is somewhat taboo. Marriage and Family therapists are trained in the implications of grief and loss for clients who lose loved ones and yet examination of the impact of therapist mortality on clients is lacking in the clinical literature. This article examines ways that private practice therapists can both protect their client's confidentiality and mitigate the impact of therapist sudden death on their clients with planning and forethought. In addition, the factors influencing the lack of empirical research on this topic is discussed in the context of social mores on death and how therapists' own denial of mortality may impact their ability to connect with clients through the pain of grief and loss. Recommendations are made for therapists to evaluate their own attitudes towards mortality and develop a plan for client care in the event of their death.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-321
Number of pages9
JournalContemporary Family Therapy
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012

Keywords

  • Clinician death
  • Death denial
  • Professional will
  • Therapist death
  • Therapy

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