GEN PRAC 6021 - Nature of Grief

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2015

This course aims to provide an experiential, theoretical and evidence based framework for understanding the nature and characteristics of grief, and its potential to affect any dimension of the individual: physical, emotional, psychological, social, behavioural and spiritual. Students will also be introduced to some of the current controversies regarding grief and the nature and process of integrating the grief experience into the pattern of living. An opportunity will be given for students to examine their own personal grief experience, with a view to building an appreciation of the wide variety of grief experiences and responses reported by individuals.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code GEN PRAC 6021
    Course Nature of Grief
    Coordinating Unit General Practice
    Term Semester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Course Description This course aims to provide an experiential, theoretical and evidence based framework for understanding the nature and characteristics of grief, and its potential to affect any dimension of the individual: physical, emotional, psychological, social, behavioural and spiritual.
    Students will also be introduced to some of the current controversies regarding grief and the nature and process of integrating the grief experience into the pattern of living. An opportunity will be given for students to examine their own personal grief experience, with a view to building an appreciation of the wide variety of grief experiences and responses reported by individuals.
    Course Staff
    Course Coordinator: Greg Smith
    Phone: +61 8313 0148
    Location: Level 11, 178 North Terrace

    Learning and Teaching Team
    Phone: +61 8 8313 2128
    Location: Level 7, 178 North Terrace
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1 Review their personal grief history and clarify the personal and professional implications
    2 Identify different concepts and current theories of loss and grief
    3 Explain the multiple manifestations of grief
    4 Describe loss and grief issues from a life-span perspective (children, adolescents, young adults, middle-aged adults, and old age)
    5 Recognise the effects of grief and unresolved grief in families
    6 Recognise cultural differences in the expression of grief
    7 Differentiate between multiple contexts of grief and loss
    8 Assess and recommend different grief counselling approaches and techniques
    9 Identify situations when referrals to other professionals are necessary in the context of grief
    10 Demonstrate skills in grief counselling and psychotherapy relevant to loss
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1-10
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 1-10
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1-10
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 1-10
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 2-8, 10
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 1-10
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    See recommended resources.
    Recommended Resources
    Hooyman, N.R., & Kramer, B.J. (2006). Living through loss: Interventions across the lifespan. Columbia University Press.

    Worden, J.W. (2009). Grief counseling and grief therapy (4th ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing.
    Online Learning

    3.3.1 MyUni
    All students enrolled in a postgraduate coursework program have access to a Postgraduate Coursework Student Centre on MyUni. This course is available on MyUni at
    Please check the website regularly as it may contain announcements that are relevant to your study in
    the course. If you would like the opportunity to network with other students, you can use the
    Communication features in the site:

    Discussion Board – Users can post discussion items and reply to other posts. Note: If you would like to have a specific Discussion Board Forum created, please send your request to

    Send Email – This feature enables users to send email to fellow students.
    Group Pages – Groups enable Users to collaborate with each other. Groups usually consist of a smaller group of Users in a course or organisation, such as study groups or project groups. From a Group Page, users may send email, exchange files, enter discussion forums or enter collaboration sessions.

    Note: Only members of a particular Group can access the Group communication features (discussion
    forums, email, etc.). If you would like to have a specific Group Page created, please send your request to For example, Group Pages can be created to include students living in
    the same geographical area or students working for the same organisation.

    Please note that you also have access to individual MyUni sites for EACH course you are enrolled in.
    Please check the sites regularly as they may contain important announcements that are relevant to your
    study in the course.

    3.3.2 Access Adelaide
    Access Adelaide is the name of the online service that allows you to access and, in some cases, amend your records. It can be found at:
    You can log into Access Adelaide to view:
    your enrolment details for any term
    your academic results
    your unofficial academic transcript
    your personal details
    the fees, charges and payments on your University account
    your exam schedule
    your graduation eligibility details.

    As a student you can:
    change your address and telephone details (please inform the Discipline as well) change your password
    set a password clue to help you remember your password.

    3.3.3 Student email
    It is important that you set up your student email and check it regularly. Information from your course
    coordinator and student administration will be sent to you at your University of Adelaide email address.
    It is your responsibility to check your email. You will need your student number located on your student
    card to log in.

    3.3.4 Computers
    Where can I use a computer in the University?
    Computing facilities are provided to students by the University, and there are several suites of computers available, including at the Barr Smith Library and in Hub Central. The University web site has a list of computer labs at:

    3.3.5 Internet access
    The University provides a free dial-up service to students without the need for a commercial ISP account. This service is available at the cost of a local call to students residing within Adelaide (please refer to your telecommunications provider for confirmation of call costs). Students residing outside these numbers can dial into the University at STD call rates ( ). Postgraduate Coursework students will receive a University Funded Quota of 500Mb.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    The teaching methods in this course will employ a range of techniques to allow the integration and understanding of the content presented. Group-work and workshop activities will be employed in addition to the traditional methods of communicating information. It is expected that by creating an environment that promotes the practice of individual responsibility as essential for students in managing their own and others learning, it will also complement the expectations that current professional-based workplaces adopt.

    Students are encouraged to share their own knowledge and experiences, in a respectful manner, to enhance each other‟s learning processes.

    Due to the experiential nature of the course, and the topic itself, students may experience emotions that they may find upsetting. Should these emotions surface and if the student feels in need of support, students are reminded that the University provides counselling services and/or that they can choose to talk about it with the course coordinator.

    Finally, it is assumed that all students are of a mature age, professionally educated and motivated to adopt the responsibilities associated with post-graduate study. Therefore, a level of intellectual effort (including a minimum of 10 hours of private study time outside of formal class time per week), and a level of commitment and participation in class activities, is expected.

    Course structure
    This course will provide an overview to grief and loss over ten lectures. Fundamental aspects of grief and loss will be introduced in the first sessions.

    Lectures will continue with a series of guest presentations on areas of loss and grief that will be relevant in the students‟ future professional practice as counsellors.
    It is expected that students will actively participate in the lectures by having read the recommended readings, and preparing for each of the sessions.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    Seminars 1 & 2: Introduction to grief and loss
    As an introduction to grief and loss, students will become familiar with:
    • Classical and contemporary theories and models of grief, including but not limited to: task models, stage models, dual-process model, continuing bonds, meaning-reconstruction model.
    • Concepts and terminologies such as: disenfranchised grief, complicated grief, ambiguous loss, anticipatory grief, abnormal grief, chronic grief, delayed grief, etc.
    • Perspectives on the expression of grief and loss and societal expectations.
    • Understanding of current issues of loss and grief, including the potential inclusion of grief as diagnostic criteria for Major Depressive Disorder.
    Seminars 3 & 4: Grief across the lifespan
    Loss and grief can be experienced differently depending on the particular life stage that an individual is at when a loss occurs. Societal expectations, cultural norms, and life experience, can affect how people grieve.
    During these two sessions, systemic and developmental considerations of grief and loss will be discussed, providing an in depth look at the experiences of loss and grief in children, adolescents, young adults, midlife adults, and old adults. Responses to losses through death, but also through other losses will be the focus of these sessions.

    Seminar 5: Grief and loss: A cross-cultural approach Migrants / Refugees
    Guest Lecturer: 
    This unit will introduce students to variation or specific issues associated with specific populations. It will focus on what students need to know about working with grief and loss in migrant and refugee populations in order to begin to effectively engage with clients from these backgrounds.

    Indigenous Australians
    Guest Lecturer:
    This session will cover loss and grief counselling and education from an Aboriginal perspective. Students will learn that Aboriginal social, emotional and health challenges are not as complex as people have imagined (and some still do), emphasizing that loss and grief are human experiences! A model that can „unpack‟ these imagined complexities is the Seven Phases to Integrating Loss & Grief model which is purposely designed not to be academically based; rather, it is a „living‟ model and will be used to describe theories and argue its place as the missing link to addressing contemporary Aboriginal major social, emotional and health challenges.

    Seminar 6: Grief, loss, and trauma
    Guest Lecturer: 
    This session will discuss the types of losses that are commonly experienced by soldiers returning from conflict, and the normal vs. dysfunctional grief that may be associated. The discussion will also touch on the different approaches taken to prevent and treat the negative symptoms of functioning that can be associated with grief.

    Guest Lecturers: 
    Grief, loss and trauma issues are highly prevalent within the forensic population, in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders. These issues may be compounded by the high incidence of substance abuse and other maladaptive coping mechanisms, such as avoidance or engaging in offending and self harm behaviours. The lecture will focus on grief, loss and trauma issues specific to the offending population, their relation to the offending behaviours and treatment considerations relating to this population.

    Grief in the aftermath of sexual abuse and or domestic violence
    Guest Lecturer:
    In this presentation students will be introduced to three key concepts which underpin narrative therapy responses to grief in the context of sexual abuse and violence. We will explore grief in the context of power relationships, practices that contribute to a restoration of what is precious that has been violated through the trauma and practices that foster a re-connection with valued and supportive memberships of life. Examples of work will be shared and there will be an opportunity for questions.

    Seminar 7: Other contexts of loss and grief

    Perinatal / still-birth
    This session will explore being alongside parents following loss and trauma, focussing on key considerations for care. It will provide students with:
    • awareness of perinatal grief and trauma- its manifestations and effects
    • knowledge about strategies and approaches to providing emotional care
    • knowledge of the neurodevelopmental and relational aspects of trauma in both parent and infant
    Guest Lecturer: 
    This session will cover some commonly experienced reactions to loss following suicide, showing how it is similar and different to other grief, and considering the role of the counsellor in providing a safe environment in which affected individuals can explore, manage, and progress within the stresses and challenges that follow upon suicide.
    Information on resources, both web based and local, to assist the bereaved will be included.

    Guest Lecturer:
    In your role as a counsellor there will be opportunities for you to assist individuals with disabilities, their families and sometimes the workplace to work through issues of grief resulting from a disability. The aim of today‟s session will be to explore strategies that have been shown to be effective, as well to identify the best strategies to use dependant on the circumstances and the client group. To do this we will start with a discussion around the term of „disability, loss and grief.‟ The term disability will explore both congenital disabilities as well as disabilities resulting from incidents such as workplace injuries, motor vehicle accidents, and where relevant, workplace diseases.

    Seminar 8: Grief from anticipated losses
    Deaths caused by life-limiting illnesses such as cancer, dementia, motor-neuron disease, and other advanced chronic life-threatening illnesses, are considered as expected or anticipated. The awareness of the impending death generates a series of challenges and adaptations for the individual with the illness, and for their direct and indirect environment. Over this session, students will become familiar with loss and grief issues faced by those who are dying, as well as the grief of those who are close to someone who is dying.

    Seminars 9 & 10: Counselling approaches and self-care
    These two sessions will provide students with tools, strategies, and techniques that can be used in grief and loss counselling in a variety of settings. Some of the approaches to be discussed are:
    • Fundamentals of assessment
    • General techniques and interventions
    • Individual vs. group interventions
    • Death education
    • Narrative approaches
    • Family-focused approaches
    • Cognitive-behavioural techniques
    • Use of rituals

    An emphasis on self-care will be present throughout most of the lectures. However, a section of the last session will be dedicated to explore fundamental aspects of self-care, self-awareness, countertransference, and potential positive and negative impact of working in this area.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week Topic Lecture
    Week 1 Introduction 1 Grief and Loss
    Week 2 Introduction 2 Grief and Loss
    Week 3 Specific Grief Issues TBA
    Week 4 Specific Grief Issues TBA
    Week 5 Specific Grief Issues TBA
    Week 6 Specific Grief Issues TBA
    Week 7 Specific Grief Issues TBA
    Week 8 Grief Counselling TBA
    Week 9 Specific Grief Issues TBA
    Week 10 Specific Grief Contexts TBA
    Week 11 Grief Counselling Practice TBA
    Week 12 Grief Counselling Practice TBA
    Specific Course Requirements
    Small Group Discovery Experience
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Item Weight Description Due Dates
     Class Participation 10%  In accordance with both university and the group norms idenfied in class.   Ongoing
    Exam 20%

    Multiple choice exam - MyUni (to be completed at home)

    Critical Review of Literature 30% Critical analysis of a journal article from a selection of papers provided to the students
    Reflective Paper 30% Personal reflection of own experiences of grief, interconnected with contents of the course.
    Lecture Reflections 10% A different group of students will elaborate a written reflection on the assigned lecture. Weekly, per assigned students
    To pass this course, students are expected to attend and actively participate in all sessions, as well as submit and achieve a minimum of a Pass (50%) for each component of assessment.
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Assessment Detail
    Assessment is based upon in-class participation, plus assignments are to be handed up during and before the end of the semester. There will be a multiple-choice online examination.

    Lecturers will aim to mark and return assignments to students within 4 weeks of the due date, or before the due date for the next assignment (whichever comes earlier).

    Assignment summaries
    Details of assignments are provided below. Where appropriate, Marking Guides will be made available on MyUni at least a month before the assignment is due.

    Class Participation
    Active participation and attendance are fundamental to the learning process. Lectures will provide an environment where students can participate comfortably. Criteria for assessing class participation are: a) the originality of the student‟s contribution, b) reference to relevant academic readings and/or personal experience, c) evidence of preparation for the lecture, d) use of critical thinking, and e) consistency of participation over the different sessions.

    Students are expected to participate in a respectful manner with lecturers and peers.

    Multiple-choice exam on MyUni
    With the purpose of consolidating and strengthening the knowledge acquired over the first four lectures, students will be asked to answer an online multiple-choice exam. Students will have the opportunity to use notes, however there will be a time limit to complete the exam. Further instructions will be provided on MyUni.

    Critical analysis of a journal article
    For this assignment, students are expected to prepare a 2000 word critique on a journal article of their choice, from a selection of articles provided. In the first lecture, the group will be given the opportunity to select a series of topics, to allow for a selection of articles. The articles will be made available at the beginning of September along with a marking guide.

    Reflective paper
    Students will prepare a reflective paper of no more than 2000 words. The paper should reflect the student‟s experience throughout the course, interconnecting contents of the course with a personal reflection of their own experiences of grief.
    Students are invited to reflect on the following questions prior to preparing the paper:
    1. How did the different lectures affect your understanding of loss and grief issues professionally?
    2. How did the different lectures affect your understanding of loss and grief issues personally?
    3. How did your experience in this course affect your perspective on grief and loss?
    Further instructions and a marking guide will be available on MyUni.

    Lecture reflections
    As a means to consolidate the knowledge gained in each of the sessions, a different group of students will prepare a reflection of each of the lectures. Students are free to choose whether they write it as a group, or individually. The reflection is not intended to be a summary of the contents, nor an evaluation of the lecture itself, but a deeper consideration of the topics covered, or of a specific aspect of the lecture that resonated with the student. Students will be randomly selected and assigned to each of the seminars during the first lecture. The reflection can be between 500 to 800 words and has to be handed in no more than ten days after the lecture.

    If the author of the reflection agrees, these reflections will be posted on MyUni, and can be compiled at the end of the course.

    Word limits
    You are advised to comply with word limits for written assignments. You are, of course, not expected to achieve exactly the required length and a 10% leeway on either side is acceptable. However, a penalty of 5% of available marks will apply for word quota in excess of the 10% leeway. Each assignment must include the word-count at the end of the document and in the cover sheet.

    Assignment cover sheet
    Assignments are to be submitted with an attached „Assignment Cover Sheet‟ (available on MyUni), which is to be signed and dated by the student before submission. The lecturer can refuse assignments that do not have a signed acknowledgement of the University‟s policy on plagiarism.

    Referencing of assignments
    It is essential that you reference all written work accurately and consistently. We ask that use the American Psychological Society Referencing Format (APA 6) and information regarding this system can be found at

    Referencing of assignments
    It is essential that you reference all written work accurately and consistently. We ask that use the American Psychological Society Referencing Format (APA 6) and information regarding this system can be found at 

    or more detailed information can be found at

    EndNote bibliographic software is a very useful tool for managing your references and it is provided free of charge through the university. Information about EndNote can be found at: 

    Be aware that marks will be deducted for incorrect referencing in all assignments.

    In preparing any written piece of assessment for your postgraduate studies it is important to draw on the relevant literature to support critical analysis. It is also essential to reference the literature used. Correct referencing is important because it identifies the source of the ideas and arguments that you present, the source of the actual words you quote in your argument, and helps to avoid the problem of plagiarism.

    Information on avoiding Plagiarism is available at

    The University of Adelaide Plagiarism Policy
    (available at  defines plagiarism as … „Using another person‟s ideas, designs, words or works without appropriate acknowledgement‟ (p. 2).


    Points to remember include:
    Referencing: providing a full bibliographic reference to the source of the citation (in a style as determined by the Discipline).
    Quotation: placing an excerpt from an original source into a paper using either quotation marks or indentation, with the source cited, using an approved referencing system in order to give credit to the original author.
    Paraphrasing: repeating a section of text using different words which retain the original meaning. Please note changing just a few words does not constitute paraphrasing and will be considered plagiarism if not appropriately referenced.

    Lecturers can refuse to accept assignments, which do not have a signed acknowledgement of the University‟s policy on plagiarism.


    Assignments should be submitted through the “Assignments” section of MyUni. Instructions on how to submit an assignment in this way can be found at: 

    Students who are unable to submit through MyUni (for whatever reason) should contact the Course Coordinator to determine alternative arrangements.

    Assignments must be submitted by 5pm on the day that they are due. Please note that MyUni will accept your assignment after this time but it will be marked Late.

    Make sure you include your name(s) in a header or footer on each page of your assignment, and keep a copy for your own records.

    Extension of time for assignments
    Up to one week

    It is expected that all assessments will be submitted by the specified time on the specified due date.

    However, students may apply for an extension of time to submit an assessment, if they are experiencing difficulty. Applications for extension must be made to the Course Coordinator, in writing (e.g. email) prior to the due date lodgement of the assignment. Anticipate that it may take a few days to receive a reply.

    The grounds for granting an extension include health problems, compassionate reasons and other extenuating circumstances. Extensions will usually only be granted for a maximum of one week, but can be longer at the discretion of the Chairperson of the Academic Progress Committee if substantiated with evidence such as a medical certificate. Only original documents or certified copies of originals will be accepted.

    You will be notified by email to your University of Adelaide student email account of the outcome of your application. If your extension is granted then it is your responsibility to keep in contact with the Course Coordinator and to hand in the assignment with a copy of the email (or other document) approving the extension.

    Failure to submit an assessment item on time without an approved extension will incur a penalty as detailed under "Late Submission of Work‟.

    Longer than one week

    If you require an extension for longer than one week, please contact the Course Coordinator to discuss your request. If you require an extension for longer than a week due to illness, a medical certificate will be required.

    Failure to submit an assessment item on time without an approved extension will incur a penalty as detailed under „Late Submission of Work‟.

    Late submission of assignments
    Late submission without an approved extension will be penalised at the rate of 10% of available marks for each day after the due date. Work submitted more than ten days after the due date may be returned unmarked. This action will be taken to prevent students who do get their work in on time being disadvantaged.

    Requesting a Re-Mark
    Any student who, after discussion of the result with the lecturer in charge, is still dissatisfied with the final grade awarded for a course, or with the mark awarded for a particular piece of assessment work, and who has specific grounds for objecting to the grade/mark, may lodge a written request for a review of the result or an independent second assessment with the Head of Discipline within 10 University business days from the date of notification of the result. Such a written request must contain details of the grounds on which the objection is based.

    Requests must include a summary of the reasons the student believes his or her assessment work deserves a higher mark. These reasons must be directly related to the academic quality of the work. Re-marks, for example, will not be granted where the grounds are that the student has paid tuition fees or incurred liability under HECS-HELP or FEE-HELP, or needs one or two additional marks to get a higher overall grade for the course. The Head of Discipline may seek the advice of the Academic Progress Committee, and will make a determination on review or second assessment and inform the student of his or her decision in writing.

    The mark awarded to a piece of work following review or second assessment as provided for in this policy or as a consequence of appeal to the Student Appeals Committee will usually stand as the final mark for the work, regardless of whether this mark is higher or lower than the mark originally awarded.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.