Ambiguous Loss and the Myth of Closure

Ambiguous loss is loss without closure, and thus its grief also has no closure. When loved ones cannot be found or healed from an illness, when families are uprooted and separated by forced migrations, or when loss makes no sense (suicide, homicide), the lens of ambiguous loss helps therapists as they work with families when there is no clear solution. While lingering grief from ambiguous loss is akin to that of complicated grief, it is a normal reaction to an abnormal type of loss. Traditional grief and PTSD therapies are thus insufficient. Using case analysis and self-of-the-therapist reflection, Pauline Boss, PhD, will discuss relational and contextual assessments and interventions, as well as cultural differences regarding the need for closure. Boss’ six therapeutic guidelines to increase the resiliency to tolerate and even embrace ambiguity, focus on meaning; mastery, identity, ambivalence, attachment and hope.

Photo Credit: Andrew Testa


Pauline Boss, PhD,
 is a family therapist; Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota; a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy; and Moses Distinguished Visiting Professor, 2004-2005, at the Hunter School of Social Work. She is author of Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 1999), Loss, Trauma, and Resilience (Norton, 2006) and most recently, Loving Someone Who Has Dementia (Jossey-Bass/John Wiley, 2011). She continues to train clinicians across the United States. and around the world.

Date: Friday, April 7, 2017
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuition: $135
CEUs for NYS: 6
CEUs for NASW- CT: 5


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The Ackerman Institute for the Family SW CPE is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #0052.

If you are an Ackerman alumni of the Externship or current Ackerman student, please contact the Training Department to register.

Damaly Ferreira
212 879-4900, ext 111
training@ackerman.org