Sitting with Suffering: A paradigm shift

Sitting with Suffering: A paradigm shift

Presenter: Dr. Joan Berzoff

Time: 12 – 1:30pm CST

Members -
Non-Members - $50

The prevention and relief of suffering is the primary aim of palliative care, described as an “obligation” (Cassell, 1982; Sacks & Nelson, 2007) and “duty” (WHO, 2014) for clinicians. This webinar will introduce the literature on suffering and a counter argument that suggests that there is intrinsic psychosocial suffering at end of life –- loss, feeling burdensome, loneliness, death anxiety and worry for family which may not be relieved despite clinicians’ best efforts. This shift from seeing suffering as transformational or meaningful, toward seeing suffering as intrinsic highlights a profound ethical and clinical tension in palliative care: the paradox of the expectation that we can relieve suffering, and our inability to necessarily do so. It also runs counter to the common adage that palliative care providers can and must “replace suffering with joy” or meaning for dying patients (Witt Sherman, 2015. p. 477). While there may indeed be meaning and joy at end of life, it is possible that there may be no meaning to be found, and the pressure to make meaning may work to increase suffering for patients, families and clinicians. That some suffering endures indicates neither poor quality of care, nor of clinician inadequacy, but rather that dying is intrinsically hard. Currently, little clinical guidance exists on how clinicians can work with psychosocial suffering that persists at end of life, and this workshop will help to fill this gap. This webinar will discuss what it means to sit with suffering, as clinicians, in order to help clients to do the same.

Continuing Education

This webinar is approved by the American Psychological Association and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for 1.5 CE Hours. Click here for the Learner Notification. 

Presenter Information:

Dr. Joan Berzoff is Professor Emerita at the Smith College School for Social Work where she taught for thirty- eight years. During her tenure there, she co- directed the Doctoral Program and developed and directed the End of Life Certificate Program. She is the author of over forty publications and four books: Living with Dying: A Handbook for End of Life Care Practitioners, Inside Out and Outside In: Psychodynamic Theories and Practice in Multicultural Settings (Editions l-4), Falling through the Cracks: Psychodynamic Practice with Vulnerable and At Risk Clients and Dissociative Identity Disorders. She is the recipient of a Soros Project on Death in America Award for Social Work Leadership, a runner up for the Gradiva Award, a recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award from NASW, and is an Outstanding Scholar with the National Academies of Practice. She has lectured nationally and internationally on death, dying and bereavement, including in Hong Kong, Sweden, Bulgaria, and Canada. Her most recent research is as a co investigator on a PCORI grant studying the use of advance directives for patients on dialysis. She is also in private practice in Northampton, Mass.


Cancellations will be accepted through end of business on the Monday immediately prior to each specific Webinar. Registrants who cancel within that time will receive a refund, minus a $10 service fee. Cancellations received after that day will not be refunded. To cancel your registration, call the ADEC office or email us. ADEC is not responsible for miscalculations relating to the webinar start time in your area and will not issue refunds for anyone who missed the event due to timing mix-ups.

Webinar Platform:

The webinar will be presented via Zoom and will require your system to allow the Zoom platform to be downloaded and ran to watch the live presentation. Log in instructions will be sent the day before the webinar to the email used during registration.
6/13/2018 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM

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