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Friday Forum: The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change
Friday, July 29, 2022, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM CDT
Category: First Friday Forum (CE)

Friday Forum: The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change

Friday, July 29, 2022

This program will be held virtually via Zoom. Details with instruction on how to view the webinar will be sent to all registrants the day before the program (7/28).

Program: 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. This session is at the intermediate level and is designed for psychologists and other mental health professionals.

Friday Forums are cosponsored with the Metropolitan State University Psychology Department.

About the Program:
Dr. Boss, who coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s, describes it as a loss that remains unclear and unverified, and thus, without resolution. Not knowing the whereabouts of a loved one, or whether they are alive or dead, as well as the confusion about loss of interaction during the pandemic, tends to freeze grief, and lead to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, and isolation. Grief therapy does not work because those left behind understandably will not acknowledge that death has occurred. During the pandemic, losses have skyrocketed so this is now a time of massive unresolved grief. How do we assess this situation? It requires both/and thinking, plus clinical strategies to help people cope with the ambiguity and uncertainty surrounding their losses. Dr. Boss describes individual and family symptoms, plus six non-recursive guidelines for treatment and intervention that have been applied and tested across cultures. Taking into account cultural differences, these guidelines for coping with ambiguous loss are based on meaning, mastery, identity, ambivalence, attachment, and new hope. She also describes how we, as professionals, can increase our own tolerance for ambiguity. There will be ample time for questions and answers.
This program qualifies for 3.0 continuing education credits.

Participants will be able to:
1. Define and describe ambiguous loss, its two types, its relational assumption, its effects, and how it differs from ordinary loss.
2. Recognize what ambiguous loss is not and why closure is a myth with ambiguous loss, and perhaps to a lesser extent, with the clear loss of death.
3. Apply the six guidelines to treat individuals and families with different kinds of ambiguous loss—e.g., catastrophic: terminal illness, dementia, the disappeared or missing; more common: adoption, foster care, divorce.

About the Presenter:

Pauline Boss, Ph.D., received her Ph.D. in Child Development and Family Studies with a minor in Family Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Dr. Boss, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota, is a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, and a former president of the National Council on Family Relations. She practiced family therapy for over 40 years. With her groundbreaking work in research and practice, Dr. Boss coined the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s and since then, developed and tested the theory of ambiguous loss, a guide for working with families of the missing, physically or psychologically. She summarized this research and clinical work in her widely acclaimed book Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief (Harvard University Press, 2000). Her other books include Loss, Trauma, and Resilience (W. W. Norton, 2006), Loving Someone Who Has Dementia (Jossey-Bass, 2011,) and The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change (W. W. Norton, 2022). For more information about her writings and the ambiguous loss online training program, see www.ambiguousloss.com.

The speaker has indicated the following conflict of interest:

Dr. Boss' book, The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change (W. W. Norton), was published in 2022.

The Minnesota Psychological Association is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Minnesota Psychological Association maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

ACCESSIBILITY ACCOMMODATIONS:  If you need disability related accommodations to make this event accessible, please contact the Metropolitan State University Center for Accessibility Resources, 651-793-1549, or [email protected]


Registration Pricing:

Member Type MPA Member Non-Member Student Retired-Member (No CE credit)
Fee $60 $95 $15               $30


*Retired members have the option to pay the regular member rate to receive CE credit or take advantage of the discounted price with no CE.

MPA wants all members to have access to quality CE opportunities. If you are an MPA member and due to COVID-19 you are unable to work full time and can’t pay the full registration fee, please contact [email protected] to make other arrangements with staff.

Registration is now closed.

Click here to view and download a PDF program flyer and registration form.