For some reason, the loss of a pet is often dismissed as a cause of trauma, and anybody who has ever experienced the tsunami of sadness that it can bring will know exactly what I’m talking about.
A recent study aims to alter that by supplying counselors with fresh points of view that they should bear in mind while dealing with clients whose animals passed away.
“When relationships are not valued by society, individuals are more likely to experience disenfranchised grief after a loss that cannot be resolved and may become complicated grief,” stated Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement President and pet loss grief expert Colleen Rolland.
“The major goals of this review are to provide counselors with an aspect to consider in their therapeutic work with clients dealing with grief and loss and present different factors that may impact how one grieves the loss of a pet. It also discusses considerations for counseling that can be utilized to foster a supportive and non-judgmental space where clients’ expressions of grief are validated.”
There was an increase in both pet ownership and the amount of time individuals were spending with their pets towards the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when lockdowns saw a third of humanity confined to their homes.
Studies have shown that having a pet may greatly improve a person’s quality of life, even saving their lives during times of extreme loneliness. The prevalence of pet cemeteries across the world attests to the significance of pets to people.
Rolland and study co-author Dr. Michelle Crossley, Assistant Professor at Rhode Island College, think that mourning the death of a pet still isn’t seen as a huge concern by many people despite the abundance of data demonstrating their worth.
They believe that if individuals worry that their sadness over a pet’s death would be received with ridicule, they may be less inclined to seek treatment when they actually need it, which might be harmful to their health.
Group therapy sessions (in-person or online) and therapeutic arts and crafts (especially for young children) are two methods suggested for helping clients cope with the death of a pet.
The goal of this study was to persuade therapists that the loss of a pet is significant for certain clients, and that validating grieving over animals is an important step toward facilitating recovery and expanding access to care.
“When an individual loses a pet, it can be a traumatic experience, especially given the strength of attachment, the role the pet played in the life of the individual, as well as the circumstances and type of loss,” said Crossley.
“Giving a voice to individuals grieving a disenfranchised loss is one way in which counselors can help clients through pet loss. It is also important to integrate pet loss work into counseling interventions and coping strategies that are already being used in the therapeutic space.”
Human-Animal Interactions was the journal that published the review.
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