Professional Development Courses

Tuesday, April 24 and Wednesday, April 25
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

These courses are offered in addition to the conference, as an opportunity for attendees to deepen their knowledge in an environment tailored to their current level of knowledge and experience in the field. Spend two full days with some of the finest minds in thanatology, and enjoy a unique and inspiring learning experience.

Separate registration and tuition are required.

ADEC reserves the right to cancel any specialty workshop or professional development course that does not attain minimum registration numbers. Registrants in a cancelled course will be informed and given the option to choose another session or receive a refund.

Essentials of Thanatology: Dying, Death and Bereavement
Faculty: Darcy Harris, PhD, RSW, FT and Andy Ho, PhD, EdD, FT

Intended Audience:
This course is intended for those in both counseling and education who wish to enhance their expertise in the field of thanatology. As such, this course will be helpful for professionals (nurses, physicians, psychologists, social workers, chaplains, funeral directors, police, EMTs, etc.) as well as individuals who are working as volunteers or support staff working with critically ill, dying or bereaved individuals.

Course Description:

This course gives an overview and summary of the field of thanatology based upon the Body of Knowledge Matrix published by ADEC. It explores the social, cultural, psychological, legal, ethical, and spiritual issues raised by illness, dying, death and bereavement. All information is relevant to everyday life and most specifically to those practitioners providing death education, as well as those supporting the dying and bereaved. The course explores the meaning of death and examines personal attitudes and fears to understand the grieving process and basic grief support throughout the life span. The course will focus on learning techniques for applying theory and research to expand your knowledge and skills. Comprehensive and interdisciplinary, it presents the essential topics and core knowledge for death-related counseling and death education.

Required Text:
David K. Meagher (Editor),‎ David E. Balk (Editor). (May 4, 2013). Handbook of Thanatology: The Essential Body of Knowledge for the Study of Death, Dying, and Bereavement. (2nd ed.). Routledge. ISBN-13: 978-0415630559

The latest edition of the following text is required: 
Worden, J.W., (2002). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner (3rd Ed.). New York: Springer. 
ISBN: 0-8261-4162-5

Additional Texts:
Kospminsky, P., Jordan, J. (2016) Attachment-Informed Grief Therapy: The Clinician’s Guide to Foundations and Applications. New York: Routledge.           ISBN: 041585721X

About Your Instructors:

Darcy L. Harris, PhD, FT, is an Associate Professor and the Thanatology Coordinator in the Department of Interdisciplinary Programs at King’s University College at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, where she also maintains a private clinical practice specializing in issues related to change, loss, and transition. She developed the undergraduate degree program in Thanatology at King’s University College, and she serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at Western University. She has served on the board of directors of the Association for Death Education and Counseling and is a current member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying, and Bereavement. She currently serves on the board of directors for St. Joseph’s Health Care in London, Ontario and has served as the series editor for the Death, Value, and Meaning Series with Baywood Publishing Company in New York. She has written many articles and book chapters, including Counting our Losses: Reflecting on Change, Loss, and Transition in Everyday Life (2010, Routledge), Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice (2011, Routledge), Principles and Practice of Grief Counseling (2nd edition, 2016, Springer), and the Handbook of Social Justice in Loss and Grief: Exploring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (2016, Routledge).

Andy Ho, PhD, EdD, FT, is Assistant Professor of Psychology in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He received his Doctor of Philosophy in Thanatology from the University of Hong Kong in 2013, and his Doctor of Education in Lifelong Learning from the University of Nottingham in 2016. He is an elected member of the prestigious International Work Group on Death Dying and Bereavement, a Fellow in Thanatology, a Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Mindfulness Practitioner. Andy specializes in the research and teaching of dignified and compassionate end of life care, life and death education, psychosocial gerontology, holistic therapy and community empowerment. Based on this body of work, he has produced many acclaimed public health campaigns and short film documentaries, authored over 50 books, chapters, and articles in prominent academic and professional journals, as well as presented over 100 keynotes, invited, and conference presentations across the globe. Andy’s social and scholarly contributions have been recognized with distinction by the Association of Death Education and Counseling, the International Palliative Care Network, the International Academy of the Visual Arts, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, and the Hong Kong International Cancer Congress.


Intermediate Course: Grief Counseling

Faculty: Jane Bissler, PhD, LPCC-S, FT

Intended Audience:
This course is designed for all professionals who have at least two years of experience working with the bereaved and/or the dying.

Course Description:
This course examines key concepts related to the human response to loss and the facilitation of healthy bereavement, with a bilateral focus on working with individuals who have lost an important loved one as well as individuals who are dying. Death competence is emphasized as a prerequisite for effective clinical care of the bereaved and the dying.

Using the most current research and theory available in the field, you learn about models of grief experience, forces that contribute to risk and resilience in bereavement outcomes, and developmental, cultural, family, and other mediating factors in normal, uncomplicated bereavement and in the dying process.  The use of ritual as a coping response to facilitate mourning and development of creative therapeutic interventions receive special attention. Sound approaches to enhancing self-care and preventing burnout are provided.  Videotaped examples of actual counseling sessions are included throughout the two-day course.

This highly interactive course gives you the opportunity to explore specific strategies and counseling tools to effectively support individuals, couples, families or groups coping with loss or facing an impending death. You will be given the opportunity to critically reflect with peers about the impact of grief and loss on your own professional work.  A variety of teaching techniques are woven throughout the course to help you transfer the skills you learn in the course to your own work setting.

About Your Instructor:

Jane Vair Bissler, PhD, LPCC-S, FT, is a clinical counselor, teacher, writer and speaker specializing in grief and bereavement. Over the past 30 years, she has counseled hundreds of grieving individuals, couples, families and groups through Counseling for Wellness in Kent, OH. Dr. Bissler taught at Kent State University for seventeen years in the Master's and Ph.D. clinical counseling programs. She has co-written three books on grief and one about clients having loving connections with their deceased loved ones. For the past 28 years, she has written a weekly grief question and answer newspaper column and has keynoted and spoken at numerous international, national, state and local conferences.

Recommended Texts:
Gamino, L. A., & Ritter, R. H., Jr. (2009). Ethical practice in grief counseling. New York: Springer Publishing Company.
Worden, J. W. (2009). Grief counseling & grief therapy: A handbook for the mental health practitioner. (4th Ed.). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Advanced Course: Complicated Bereavement and Grief Therapy
Faculty: Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD

Intended Audience:
Psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, nurses, physicians, pastoral counselors, or anyone with professional training seeking advanced skill development in bereavement intervention with challenging cases.

Course Description:
As contemporary models of bereavement have become more nuanced and empirically informed, so too have the practices available to counselors and therapists contending with complicated and prolonged grief in their clients.  This two-day workshop offers in-depth training in several of these techniques, nesting them both within the therapy relationship and in the context of current theories focused on attachment, the dual processes of coping with loss and restoring life, and meaning reconstruction.  Throughout, we ground principles and practices in contemporary research that provides flexible frameworks for intervention. Making extensive use of actual clinical videos as well as how-to instruction in the use of numerous therapeutic tools, we will discuss and practice several methods for helping clients integrate the reality of the loss into the ongoing story of their lives, while also reorganizing their continuing bond to their loved one.

About Your Instructor:

Robert A. Neimeyer, Ph.D., is Professor in the Department of Psychology, University of Memphis, where he also maintains an active clinical practice. Since completing his doctoral training at the University of Nebraska in 1982, he has published 30 books, including Techniques of Grief Therapy:  Assessment and Intervention and Grief and the Expressive Arts:  Practices for Creating Meaning (both with Routledge), and serves as Editor of the journal Death Studies. The author of over 500 articles and book chapters, he is currently working to advance a more adequate theory of grieving as a meaning-making process, both in his published work and through his frequent professional workshops for national and international audiences.  The recipient of the MISS Foundation’s Phoenix Award:  Rising to the Service of Humanity, Neimeyer served as Chair of the International Work Group for Death, Dying, & Bereavement and President of the Association for Death Education and Counseling.  In recognition of his scholarly contributions, he has been granted the Eminent Faculty Award by the University of Memphis, made a Fellow of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association, and given Lifetime Achievement Awards by both the Association for Death Education and Counseling and the International Network on Personal Meaning.

Required readings:  
Neimeyer, R. A. (2012).  Techniques of grief therapy:  Creative practices for counseling the bereaved.  New York:  Routledge.
Neimeyer, R. A. (2015).  Techniques of grief therapy:  Assessment and intervention.  New York:  Routledge.