Project ARC:

Assessing Responses to a Veteran Family Member's Palliative Care Experiences

Surviving Suicide Loss:

Examining Alternative Methods of Meaning Making

Dr Edith Steffen is a counselling psychologist and lecturer in counselling psychology at the University of Roehampton, London, United Kingdom. She has previously researched sense of presence experiences and meaning making in bereavement, and she is currently designing a randomized controlled trial in meaning-oriented grief group therapy for complicated grief in collaboration with Bob Neimeyer, Evgenia Milman and Daniela Alves. The group protocol is based on the Meaning in Loss group structure, with additional focus on continuing bonds work. A pilot group is expected to run in the research clinic of CREST (Centre for Research in Social and Psychological Transformation) at the University of Roehampton in 2016. Together with Dennis Klass, Edith is also currently engaged in co-editing the second edition of the 1996 work Continuing Bonds: New Understandings of Grief. 

To contact Edith, write her at edith.steffen@roehampton.ac.uk

For more information on Edith and the Roehampton therapy research center:

http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/staff/Edith-Steffen/


http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Research-Centres/Centre-for-Research-in-Social-and-Psychological-change/Research-Centre-Members/

Performing the Peace:

Using Improvisational Theatre to Foster Improved Police-Community Relations


Dr. Daniela Alves is a post doctoral researcher at University of Minho, in Braga, Portugal, currently living in London. Along with Bob Neimeyer, Miguel Gonçalves and colleagues from the University of Minho, she is conducting a controlled trial of meaning oriented grief therapy in Portugal, funded by the the Portuguese government. A team of Portuguese psychologists trained by Neimeyer will provide services throughout that country to adults with complicated grief.  Each participant will work through weekly videoconferencing and email exchanges with the therapist, across a  series of 12 sessions concentrating on “Processing the Event Story of the Loss” and “Accessing the Back Story of the Relationship”. In addition to changes in grief symptomatology and meaning making across treatment, specific “innovative moments” of change in the process of therapy will be explored, using the Innovative Moments Coding System.

Portuguese speakers interested in participating can find the recruitment platform here: www.consultaluto.com


For more details, contact Daniela Alves at alvesrdaniela@gmail.com

Our Mission


The Transitions Team is pursuing a multifaceted research program on the psychology of loss and bereavement and the processes and outcomes of grief therapy.  Explore the descriptions of several projects below, including some that are currently seeking research participants, or check out completed projects listed under the Books, Chapters and Articles pages nested within the overall Research site in the navigation bar above.


My Curriculum Vitae and Bio


For a printable pdf of my CV listing all publications or a copy of my bio in any of several lengths, simply press either of the buttons below.

Grief and Meaning:

Predicting the Development of Complicated Grief

Current Projects


The Transitions Team includes not only a core group of co-investigators at the University of Memphis, but also several international colleagues who are spearheading research in collaboration with UM researchers.  We encourage interested readers as well as possible participants in ongoing studies to contact the Principal Investigators for details.

Dr. Laurie Burke, a Research Assistant Professor with the University of Memphis, along with Bob Neimeyer and colleagues from the Memphis VA Medical Center, is conducting longitudinal research on adaptation of family members before and after the death of a loved one in palliative care.  Because few studies exist on related issues with Veterans, we are investigating anticipatory grief and adjustment to bereavement in this population, focusing on complicated grief, spiritual distress, caregiver burden, and quality of end-of-life care.  Initial findings identify the substantial role of meaning making, attachment and social support in adaptation to pending loss, and suggest risk factors for poor bereavement outcome.


For more details, contact Laurie Burke at laburke@memphis.edu

This study provides a platform for survivors of suicide loss to share their stories of their loved one's dying in an effort to yield a deeper understanding of suicide bereavement and illuminate the experiences of a clinically neglected population.  We conduct in-depth interviews  to illuminate the overall impact of suicide on survivors, as well as how they seek and find meaning and sense following such a devastating loss.  Participants must be 18 years of age or older and have experienced a loss due to suicide at any point in their lives.  

For more information regarding this project, or if you would like to participate, please contact Jamison Bottomley at jsbttmly@memphis.edu


As recent violent confrontations between police and members of minority communities demonstrate, many cities struggle with pervasive conflict and mistrust between law enforcement officers and the communities they are intended to serve.  As one creative response to these cycles of often deadly violence, the Transitions Team has partnered with the Memphis Police Department, Lifeline to Success (an NGO re-integration program for previously incarcerated offenders) and Playback Theatre to promote non-violent communication between police officers and newly re-integrated members of the community, stimulated by the use of improvisational enactment of stories of trauma and loss shared by members of each group with the other.  Preliminary evidence suggests powerful emotional transformation of the previously suspicious groups, with strong evidence of bonding and the building of trust and common purpose.  Now trained as Playback actors, members of both groups are currently performing stories of loss and hope narrated by youth and adults throughout Memphis, as Playback Director Virginia Murphy joins with Transitions, MPD and Lifeline to deepen the work and its relation to personal and institutional resilience.

 

For more information, contact Virginia at virginia@playbackmemphis.org

Moral Injury:

Exploration of an Emerging Construct

Military personnel experience high rates of psychological injury and distress, including PTSD and depression. Moral injury refers to a distinct type of distress that may result when a person acts, or fails to act, in ways that are inconsistent with his or her deeply held beliefs and values. One objective of this research project is to validate this emerging construct through examining the relation between the presence of potentially morally injurious events and the symptoms suffered by those who experience them. Another goal is to identify the relative strengths of two concurrently developed measures of exposure to morally injurious events across diverse groups.


For more information about this study, or if you would like to participate, please contact Melissa Smigelsky, M.A. at msmglsky@memphis.edu

Reconstructing Stories of Loss:

An Online Narrative Constructivist Intervention for Complicated Grief

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Evgenia (Jane) Milman is a PhD candidate at McGill University and a clinical psychology intern at the Medical University of South Carolina and the Ralph A. Johnson VA Medical Center. She is working with Bob Neimeyer and several international partners including AfterTalk and Cruse UK on a longitudinal study of the development Complicated Grief (CG), a condition associated with clinically significant distress and increased vulnerability to a host of health problems. The study evaluates many factors that could increase risk for CG, such as violent death, loss of a child, and low social support, as well as the role of one’s ability to find meaning following loss in development of this condition. The results should contribute to the design of more effective support services for those who might be at risk for CG. 

If you are 18 years or older and have had a loss 5-10 months ago, we invite you to participate in our study. Participation is as simple as completing a 30-45 minute survey that will inquire about you, your loss, how much sense you have made of your experience, and the intensity of your grief. We will contact you again in 7 months to complete a final 10-15 minute survey that will assess the intensity of your grief.

For more information contact Jane Milman at evgenia.milman@mail.mcgill.ca

Meaning in Loss Group Therapy:
Processing the Loss, Accessing the Continuing Bond