Subscribe for Free Resources

Navigating the Journey: Therapists and the End-of-Life Experience

May 31, 2024
Navigating the Journey: Therapists and the End-of-Life Experience

As therapists, we are often called upon to guide individuals through life's most challenging moments, and few moments are as profound as facing one's own mortality.  This has come to the forefront calling us to heal more since the pandemic and grief and loss services have been a critical component of healing the world.  In this blog, we will delve into the unique role that therapists play in supporting individuals who are navigating the complexities of death and dying. From cultivating empathy to addressing existential concerns, we will explore the vital skills and considerations for therapists working in this deeply sensitive area.


  1. Understanding Personal Beliefs and Biases: Encourage therapists to explore their own beliefs and biases about death and dying. This can help them approach the topic with empathy and openness, allowing them to support their clients without judgment.  I encourage therapists to engage in a Grief Belief assessment in my EMDR with Grief and Loss Targets training to examine the theoretical framework you view death from and reflect on how this interacts with the patient framework.  Do you believe death ends a life? Do you believe in the afterlife? How do you perceive religious celebrations for the end of life?
  2. Building Empathetic Listening Skills: Discuss the importance of active and empathetic listening when working with clients who are facing their mortality. Therapists should be able to provide a safe and supportive space for clients to express their fears, concerns, and hopes.  Remaining attuned to the client can heal as they express their story.  
  3. Grief and Loss: Address the different stages of grief and the unique ways individuals cope with impending death. It's crucial for therapists to recognize and validate the wide range of emotions experienced by their clients and to help them navigate the grieving process.  As a therapist, normalize their grief reaction.  One of the key components in my practice is to create a safe, sacred healing space for patients to thrive.
  4. Cultivating Mindfulness and Presence: Encourage therapists to explore mindfulness techniques and the practice of being fully present with their clients. This can help create a deep connection and foster a sense of peace for the dying individual.  When I have been completely present with clients, it allows the validation to come through and help them feel TRULY seen and heard.
  5. Understanding Community Resources: Provide guidance on how to communicate effectively and compassionately with dying clients and their families. This includes discussing difficult topics, such as end-of-life care preferences, while being sensitive to the individual's emotional state.  I would recommend being familiar with your own resources in your community or have a few go-to-teaching tools available that you can refer to to help grievers.
  6. Self-Care for Therapists: Recognize the emotional toll that working with dying clients can have on therapists. Encourage self-care practices and stress the importance of seeking support and supervision when dealing with such emotionally challenging situations.  Also, in my practice I have to keep being kind to myself and be aware of when I am taking on too many cases, having too many session back to back etc.  It is critical to be aware of these types of things.
  7. Exploring Existential and Spiritual Concerns: Address the existential and spiritual concerns that may arise for both the dying individual and the therapist. This can involve discussing the search for meaning, the fear of the unknown, and the exploration of spiritual beliefs.
  8. Collaborating with Healthcare Professionals: Discuss the importance of collaborating with healthcare professionals involved in the client's care. Therapists can play a vital role in advocating for their clients' emotional and psychological well-being within the medical setting.  In your community, be aware of a referral network that can help people as they move forward.

We thank you for powerful conversations and to advancing the field of death and dying.  We support you and we see you and honor you on the path.  Visit us at for our free resource library, EMDR community and grief related trainings.  Until next time friends….


Kathy Couch and the Rewired360 Team

#Therapy #EndOfLifeCare #DeathAndDying #GriefSupport #TherapistJourney #CompassionateCare #ExistentialConcerns #MentalHealthSupport

Stay Connected


Get resources, motivation, and guided activities delivered to your inbox. 
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.


We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Fill out the form to get in touch.