Helping Families Learn to Live with Ambiguous Loss

This webinar is available for free to NCFR members and to Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs). Log in, or become an NCFR member or a CFLE, to access it.
April 21, 2015
Free for NCFR members & CFLEs / $89 for nonmembers

Pauline Boss

In this webinar, family therapist and NCFR Fellow Pauline Boss, Ph.D., discusses ambiguous loss, a term that refers to family members being lost physically or psychologically without verification of death. Because there is no closure, grief is ongoing, sometimes for a lifetime.

The theory of ambiguous loss is a helpful guide for educators, social workers, counselors, therapists, clergy and other professionals who work with families. The goal is learning to live with the ambiguity, not only from disaster or illness, but from the more common ambiguous losses in families from divorce, remarriage, adoption, foster care, LGBT issues, immigration, and more.

Approved for 1.5 CFLE contact hours of continuing education credit.


  • Understand what ambiguous loss is and is not, and how it differs from boundary ambiguity.
  • Be able to assess the effects of ambiguous loss e.g., frozen grief, sadness vs. depression, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder vs. ambiguous loss
  • Be able to help families learn how to live with ambiguous loss using Dr. Boss's six research-based guidelines for increasing resilience:
      • Finding meaning
      • Adjusting mastery
      • Reconstructing identity
      • Normalizing ambivalence
      • Revising attachment
      • Discovering new hope

About the Presenter

Pauline Boss, Ph.D., is professor emerita at the University of Minnesota; a Fellow in the American Psychological Association and American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy; a former president of the National Council on Family Relations; and a family therapist in private practice.

With her groundbreaking work as a scientist-practitioner, Dr. Boss is the principal theorist in the study of ambiguous loss, a term she coined in the 1970s. Since then, she has researched various types of ambiguous loss and presented six therapeutic guidelines for treatment when loss is complicated by ambiguity, based on her years of work with families of the physically missing during the Vietnam War, after 9/11, and in Kosovo, as well as in clinical work with families with loved ones who are missing psychologically—from Alzheimer's disease and other dementia, as well as from traumatic brain injury.

On-Demand Webinar Recording and Classroom Use

Even if you can't watch this webinar live, your registration will still grant you access to watch the recording at your convenience. This webinar is now free for NCFR members and Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs), and $89 for nonmembers.

License for classroom use by one professor is available for $129 for NCFR members, $199 for nonmembers.

License for departmental use (multiple professors) is available for $179 NCFR member / $319 nonmember.

Departmental license for CFLE-approved programs is $149.

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