The Institute for Grief, Loss, and Family Survival is an academic-community partnership that brings together practice and research professionals to investigate and address the needs of children, adults and families who have experienced grief and loss.
In what ways can we enhance and support the healing of individuals and families who have experienced grief and loss? Finding the best answers to this question is central to the mission of the Institute for Grief, Loss, and Family Survival at The University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work. The overarching goal of this collaborative initiative is to enhance and support individual and family survival.
The School of Social Work is seeking philanthropic support for the Institute, a multi-disciplinary collaboration among University researchers and community professionals in Central Texas who are investigating and addressing the needs of children, adults and families who have experienced grief and loss.
It is well documented that unresolved grief and loss issues can result in impairments in health, mental health, occupational and economic functioning, relationships, and overall well-being. The impact of a loss, especially a traumatic or complicated one, goes well beyond the individual experiencing the event and often extends to family, friends, community and the larger society.
Positioning to Lead
Despite recent interest in the topic of grief survival, little research has been conducted in the U.S. to identify the critical factors that facilitate positive adaptation and future functioning.
The Institute for Grief, Loss, and Family Survival, established at the School of Social Work in 2004, provides the infrastructure for bridging the gap between research and practice. The objectives are to develop and disseminate best practices in addressing grief and loss issues with individuals and families.
The Institute is achieving these objectives through community collaboration, funded research initiatives and empirically-based education at the local and national levels. The Institute is clearly becoming a leader in the development of innovative practice models.
Many of the essentials for success are already in place. The Institute has established a number of academic-community partnerships with hospitals, hospices, and health and human services organizations in Central Texas. These ongoing partnerships spurred dialogue on ways to improve practice and have identified needed research projects in the local community. To date, the Institute has hosted eight community meetings bringing together University and community experts to identify community needs, deliver continuing education, foster collaborative projects, and increase the interest in grief, loss, and family survival.
Training Social Work Students and Educators
In addition to its potential for enhancing professional development for social workers and health care professionals, the Institute supports and trains social work students who are preparing for professional roles in grief and end-of-life practice and research.
As leaders of the Institute, Drs. Beth Pomeroy and Barbara Jones have been instrumental in mentoring many interdisciplinary students at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels of education in pursuing careers in grief and end-of-life practice, research and education. These current and former students have gone on to gain key positions in academic and practice organizations throughout Central Texas and throughout the country.
The Institute’s impact on the social work classroom extends beyond The University of Texas at Austin. Two recent publications by the Institute co-directors offer practical advice for integrating the issues of grief and loss into social work education.
Additionally, in October 2008, Drs. Jones and Pomeroy led a national Faculty Development Institute on “The Integration of Grief and Loss Issues onto the Social Work Curriculum,” at the annual meeting of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in Philadelphia. CSWE represents more than 3,000 individual social work educators as well as graduate and undergraduate programs of professional social work education across the U.S.