Expired Advanced Ambiguous Loss Case Studies: Working with Trauma from Large-Scale Disasters

This workshop is part of Ackerman’s Ambiguous Loss Expert Series with Dr. Pauline Boss & Dr. Elizabeth Weiling. The goal of this series is to train the next wave of experts in ambiguous loss. Practitioners will learn how to effectively support their clients and are invited to carry forward the work of ambiguous loss for future generations. Please check course prerequisites before completing your registration.

In Advanced Ambiguous Loss Case Study: Working with Trauma from Large-Scale Disasters, Dr. Pauline Boss and Dr. Elizabeth Wieling will use case studies to discuss how to apply psychoeducational interventions in a community setting with multiple people. Both types of ambiguous loss will be included: 1) physically missing (e.g., loved ones gone missing, loss of home, loss of community, etc.) and 2) psychologically missing (e.g., loss of cognitive abilities from dementia or traumatic brain injury, loss of trust in the world as a safe place, loss of loved ones from serious mental illness, etc.).

Community-based interventions based on psychoeducation are useful and effective when there are ambiguous losses on (1) a large scale, (2) when therapists are not available to everyone, (3) when culturally, some do not want one-to-one psychotherapy, (4) when people cannot afford individual therapy, and (5) perhaps most important, when human connection to a community of peers suffering from a similar ambiguous loss becomes part of the healing process. After large-scale ambiguous losses (e.g., 9/11, hurricanes, floods, or pandemic), therapists are often in short supply. Psychoeducational interventions with multiple individuals and multiple families are thus useful—and effective.

Practitioners who complete this advanced workshop will receive certificates of completion, as well as the opportunity to be added to Dr. Pauline Boss’ ambiguous loss referral list.

Learning Objectives:

  • Psychoeducation Application: To be able to use psychoeducational groups to ease the stress and trauma of large-scale ambiguous losses and to prevent the cross-generational transmission of such trauma at the community or global level
  • Scope: To know when and why psychoeducation is needed and how to focus it on a specific ambiguous loss and trauma that impact multiple individuals within the same community or country
  • Cultural Sensitivity: To identify the role that global culture, and context play in both clients’ and therapists’ reactions to the ambiguous loss and frozen grief discussed. To understand need to normalize prolonged grief; lower the hierarchy; collaborate, e.g., asking loved ones left behind, “What does this situation mean to you?”
  •  Self-Knowledge and Self-Care: To acknowledge and reflect upon our own ambiguous losses to more effectively help others

Required Prerequisite:

To participate in this training you must have attended an ambiguous loss workshop at the Ackerman Institute within the last three years, including the 2023 Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change foundational workshop, OR have completed the University of Minnesota’s Ambiguous Loss Online Training.


Pauline Boss, PhD

Pauline Boss, PhD is Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota; emeritus family therapist; consultant; Fellow in the American Psychological Association and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. With her groundbreaking work as a scientist-practitioner, Dr. Boss is the principal theorist in the study of ambiguous loss, a term she coined in the 1970s. Books include Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 1999); Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss (W. W. Norton, 2006); Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief (Jossey-Bass, 2011); and The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change (W. W. Norton, 2022). For her many peer-revised publications, see www.ambiguousloss.com.

Elizabeth Wieling, PhD, LMFT is a Professor and Program Director of Marriage and Family Therapy Program at the University of Georgia. Her program of research is focused on preventive and clinical intervention models that demonstrate effectiveness with systematically marginalized and trauma-affected populations in the United States and abroad. She has expanded her work to include a multi-component interdisciplinary agenda that includes developing ecologically and culturally relevant interventions. Specifically, she uses Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) with individuals to address complex post-traumatic stress; GenerationPMTO with parents to interrupt intergenerational transmission of psychopathology and violence; and Ambiguous Loss to support immigrant and refugee families.

Ambiguous Loss Expert Series 

Return to Workshops

  • January 27, 2023
    1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Pauline Boss, PhD and Elizabeth Wieling, PhD, LMFT

3 CE Contact Hours

Location:   Online Event


A link will be emailed to you one day before the event. Online events are held in Eastern Standard Time (ET).

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