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Facilitating Family Adaptation to Loss and Disability I

NIH - Bethesda, MD
4th term
Health Behavior and Society
2 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Class Times:
  • Friday,  9:00 - 10:50am
Auditors Allowed:
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Ellen Macnamara

Must be enrolled in ScM in Genetic Counseling Program


Provides theoretical constructs for understanding the meaning of loss in maternal and child health, and techniques for short-term counseling that facilitate a healthy grief reaction for the bereaved family. Case studies of typical and atypical reactions are discussed for losses such as perinatal loss (miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death, termination of pregnancy for genetic reasons); birth of a child with a genetic condition/birth defect; death of a child with a chronic illness; and infertility. Topics include the psychology of pregnancy; and perinatal loss; phases of grief reaction; the art of facilitating bereavement; practical interventions in the hospital; follow-up counseling and short-term psychotherapy; resources; special needs of family members; gender differences; grandparent and sibling issues; provider issues (counter-transference, self-care, and burn-out prevention). Includes lecture, discussion, role play, video, field trips, and presentations by bereaved parents.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze pre/perinatal loss cases in terms of attachment theory, theory of pregnancy, grief theory, and patterns of grief, within the context of culture and gender
  2. Develop and practice counseling interventions for individuals, couples, children, and families who have sustained prenatal or perinatal losses
  3. Recognize their own history of loss, including attitudes, behaviors, and counter-transference issues that affect their development as a genetic counselor involved in helping others with grief issues
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 15% Participation
  • 85% Written Assignment(s)

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Consent required for students not in ScM in Genetic Counseling program.

For consent, contact: