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From The CriticsReviewer: Risa Denenberg, MSN, ARNP, ACHPN (Harborview Medical Center)
Description: This book addresses the suffering of caregivers who provide professional services to persons who are dying or in the process of grieving a death. The author provides a theoretical framework to understand individual caregiver responses, as well as the response of caregiver teams in the face of death, dying, and bereavement of their clients. The framework includes the author's models for professionals' grieving process; team functioning in death situations; and challenges of educating healthcare professionals.
Purpose: The author poses that in order to ensure humanization of care to the sick, dying, and bereaved, guidance is needed to humanize the role of professionals who provide this type of care. She states that the book is addressed to all types of professionals including clinicians, researchers, trainees, and educators whom she feels can benefit from a better understanding of the processes involved in professional grieving. This is clearly a worthy objective, but the book meets its objectives well for educators and less well for clinicians.
Audience: According to the author, this book is addressed to a very wide range of readers, including nurses, physicians, psychologists, social workers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors, as well as researchers, health managers, trainees, and even volunteers. This audience is too broad for a book that is highly theoretical and would be of most interest to those who supervise, train, or teach those in this audience. The author is certainly an expert and writes with passion, using many examples and case scenarios.
Features: This book covers a range of topics including descriptions and theories about the relationships between professionals and their patients; descriptions of tasks of professionals who work with dying and bereaved individuals and families; a paradigm for understanding grief reactions among professionals; a model for understanding how different care teams cope with loss; and ideas for educating health care professionals who work with this population. One shortcoming in the book is that the author has primarily worked with a pediatric population, and primarily uses pediatric narratives as examples.
Assessment: This is a fascinating book, applying important theoretical models (such as attachment theory; developing a holding environment; group theory, etc.) in order to describe and speculate about how professionals manage to work in an environment where suffering and grief are constantly present. This is an important and substantial addition to the mostly self-help literature about self-care for caregivers. I am not certain that the whole range of professional caregivers would want theory in such depth, but for those with an interest and background in psychology, this is an important and useful book.