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Counselor Education and Supervision


Shelley Jackson


Experiencing the death of a loved one is often life changing, and learning ways to cope is an important part of the healing process. Such a change can be particularly difficult for late adolescents (individuals between 18 and 25 years of age) who are already going through significant life changes. Spirituality and mental health has received increasing scholarly attention in recent years, and the Association for Spirituality, Ethics, and Religious Values in Counseling has developed competencies for counselors to use when working with clients who wish to incorporate spirituality in their treatment. Despite increased interest in the field, there is little scholarly literature on the use of spirituality in counseling late adolescents who are experiencing grief and loss. The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the meaning and role of spirituality and spiritual practices in the grieving processes of late adolescents. Existential theory provided the framework for the study. Participants were recruited from a local grief center, college, and university as well as CESnet and ASERVIC listservs. Seven late adolescents took part in semistructured interviews regarding their grieving process. Lindseth and Norberg's phenomenological hermeneutical method was used to analyze the data consisting of naïve reading, structural analysis, and comprehensive understanding. Themes included experiences with death, surviving the loss, and changes. Findings indicated that spiritual practices were beneficial in helping grieving late adolescents cope with the death of a loved one. Results may provide counselors with additional ways to work with this population during their grieving process.

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